£25 Million Health and Housing Scheme Falls Through

Seven years ago planning consent was given for a new community hospital on the old Oak Park School site in Havant. The new unit would have provided a range of services including older people’s beds, replacing those at the Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital and Havant War Memorial hospital after they both closed.

Despite planning consent the NHS decided in 2010 not to proceed with the hospital but agreed to extend the existing Childrens’ Service building close to the Oak Park site in Havant. The Oak Park Clinic resulted and now offers day services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy but not  the beds for older people which would  reduce bed blocking at QA Hospital.

To recover the lost hospital beds, an imaginative scheme was drawn up to develop the large site, owned by Hampshire County Council (HCC) and the NHS.  It would be a nursing home with eighty beds and a hundred rented flats for older people.  These are flats that include a range of services on site including social care. The tender was drawn up and a consortium won the bid in 2014. The following year the planning application was approved.

Contradictory government policies initially paralysed the project.  While encouraging extra-care housing their Welfare Reform policy capped rent levels making supported housing more expensive relative to Housing Benefit which would not cover the costs. After much lobbying nationally, the government agreed to support these higher rents for these supported homes and negotiations continued.  Most recent investigations reveal that the appointed contractors have now pulled out thus wasting another 4 years work on the £25millon project and forcing HCC to start again.

In summary we started a journey eight years ago with the prospect of a community hospital; that gets cancelled and was replaced with a scheme to provide homes for older people and also a nursing home. This has now fallen through and we are back to square one. It’s hard to resist the view that there has been inadequate scrutiny, poor procurement, no information from Hampshire County Council and now a much smaller development than originally specified.

Surely Havant Borough deserves better?

[This post submitted by Ann Buckley, Coordinator of the Havant Borough Residents Alliance and member of the Havant Civic Society Committee.  Ann is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and former Hampshire county councillor]

Bartons Road new development – In the News

Havant’s hard working local news reporter was on site in the Council chamber last night.

Tamara Siddiqui has written an article in today’s Portsmouth News  on last night’s Development Consultation Forum for the Bartons Road ‘west of the crematorium‘ housing development.

Click on the underlined links to read the articles.  As always, we would value your comments.

39 West Street – In the News

Tamara Siddiqui has written an article in today’s Portsmouth News  on the current planning application for 39 West Street. The plan proposing a pizza takeaway for the former HSBC bank site is also covered in detail on the home page of this site.

Click on the underlined links to read the articles.  As always, we would value your comments.

39 West Street – Shouldn’t HBC practice what they preach?

One of today’s responses to the HSBC / Pizza takeaway planning application had me running for the search engines to find the source, and here it is.   Dating from as recently as November 2017, the HBC ‘Healthy Borough Assessment’ is well worth a read.

The whole of Section 3 – Planning and Health – is germane to the debate about fast food in the town centre while the paragraph (3.19) quoted by this clearly well-informed resident sums up the Council’s thinking on fast food in the town centre.

“Havant scores significantly worse than the England average against the excess weight in adults indicator (2012-2014). Figure 1 below also shows parts of Havant to have a high number of fast food outlets compared to other areas. Together, these statistics point to a justification for a policy restricting fast food outlets in Havant Town Centre.”

To provide a balanced view, I’ve completed the quote here with the remainder of the paragraph:

“However it is also true that hot food takeaways (A5) are not the only source of unhealthy food in town centres. A number of shops (A1) can also provide unhealthy take-away food choices as well. Furthermore, such a restriction would do nothing to address the health of the existing take-away choices on offer. Such an approach would benefit from an update to the Use Classes Order in order to specifically identify uses which could provide unhealthy choices.

PublicHealth

It’s encouraging to see that the Council is clearly considering the health and welfare of its residents as they plan for our future.  It’s no wonder then, that the Local Plan 2036 clearly proposes moving fast food out of the town centre in favour of “other uses which promote activity and have not traditionally been part of a town centre offer such as gyms or healthcare…”

With this in mind, the current application for 39 West Street should surely be turned down flat? The detail of opening hours becomes simply an irrelevant diversion.

(In fairness, this is a personal view and not necessarily the view of the Havant Civic Society)

 

Plans for 39 West Street

(Originally the content of the site Home page, August 2018)

There has been healthy debate among the members of the Havant Civic Society committee over the Havant Borough Council planning decision process.  In particular, the following paragraph has come under particular focus:

“It is not always necessary for an application to be decided by the Development Management Committee.  In most minor and non-controversial proposals, decisions are made by the Head of Planning, under what is known as ‘delegated powers’ “

The corollary of this is that an application listed for decision under ‘delegated powers’ should be a ‘minor and non-controversial’ application that does not require debate by the full planning committee.P1120056The planning application which has generated this discussion concerns the former HSBC bank site on the corner of West Street and Park Road South, an application we first highlighted on this site on July 28th.  Whether you view this application as ‘minor’ and ‘non-controversial’ probably depends on whether or not you live within the town centre . Those outside St Faiths might indeed view this change as minor, while residents of St Faith’s would have strong justification for believing it to be both ‘significant’ and ‘controversial’.

The application is for “Change of use from a former bank (Class A2) to a hot food takeaway (Class A5); installation of extraction/ventilation equipment and other minor external alterations”.

We draw your attention in particular to the proposed hours of opening, section 19 of the planning application document:

For the sake of clarity, that reads ‘Monday to Saturday, 09:00 am til 02:00 am, Sunday, 09:00 am til 01:00 am’.

(We note that the Design and Access Statement submitted on behalf of local landowner and developer Geo & R Carrell Properties Ltd. actually proposes slightly different  hours, but the impact on residents is broadly the same)

We are pleased to see that a number of comments have already been submitted by local residents and businesses and have just submitted our considered objections in good time for the closing date for comments which is August 17th.  We are also contacting the Ward Councillors in order to ensure that the decision process is appropriately informed.

The HCS Committee view is that there are sufficient formal grounds to object to this application and we believe that public debate on this is important.

With reference to the 186 pages of the currently adopted Local Plan, we believe the application falls foul of the following development policies:

DM5 Control of Class A3, A4 and A5 Food, Drink and Entertainment Uses. (Page 128)

“Criteria 5 – …indiscriminate customer parking and/or traffic
movement that would be likely to create hazards for traffic or pedestrians”

“Criteria 6 – …unacceptable disturbance to the occupiers of nearby residential property at times when activity in the immediate vicinity would otherwise be at a relatively quiet level.”

DM14 Car and Cycle Parking on Development (excluding residential)

“Development will only be permitted where it provides parking for cars, motor cycles and cycles in accordance with the relevant standards. Such parking provision must be appropriately located in relation to the development and be practical for its intended use.”

Policy C8 in the Draft Local Plan 2036 (page 309) will update and replace DM5, and equivalent criteria regarding ‘unacceptable disturbance’ are in already place.

In a further reference to the Draft Local Plan, table 1 on page 14, presents a strategy in which hot food take-aways are clearly and sensibly moved away from the core of the town centres.

Town Centre Strategy

Curiously, this table does not include reference to policy KS1, relating to Havant Town Centre.  Looking at the detail of Policy KS1, paragraph 3.16 is particularly appropriate.

“In the future, development will be supported that diversifies the types of uses in this area. Together with retail, other uses which promote activity and have not  traditionally been part of a town centre offer such as gyms or healthcare will be supported. The Council will also support proposals which help retain and enhance the outdoor markets which take place in West Street.”

(Note – the italics are ours)

In summary, no matter how the decision is made, the question of ‘unacceptable disturbance to nearby residents’ is paramount.  To place the application in context, consider that McDonalds operates from 6:00 AM til 9:00 PM daily.  Granting later opening hours in the increasingly residential core of the historic town would set a very dangerous precedent which others would surely wish to follow.

Time here is of the essence since the decision on this application is due to be made on August 17th.  If you share our concerns, we would urge you to take the following actions:

  1. Use your right to comment on the application by taking this link.
  2. Contact your ward Councillor and ask them to ensure that this application is referred for proper debate. Your councillor’s email address can be found on this page of the HBC site.

Havant Park – in the News

Following on from our earlier piece, the parlous state of the children’s recreation area in Havant Park is covered in the Portsmouth News today. Take this link to read the article.

For the latest response from Havant Borough Council, take a look at the online petition which can be found here.

Havant Park – Children’s play area

The Civic Society is concerned about the length of time it is taking to sort out the issues caused by tree roots in the play area in Havant Park.  It is now likely that the play area will now have to be relocated.D7C_7543

Part of the play area is now closed off and will not be available for the school holidays.  There is no information available from the council giving an update on likely completion date for the works or advising the location of alternative play facilities.

We have been in touch with local ward Councillors and await further information.

HCS response to recent News coverage

Reading the recent series of town centre articles in the local newspaper was very interesting, but in our opinion, The News had reported preconceived views of ‘no hope’ for Town Centre High Streets. That is unfortunate because there are successful shops and town centres.

In Havant, for instance, Astares menswear in East Street, and Button Up Baby in North Street, both independent retailers that seem to be trading successfully, yet they were not interviewed to see why they do well.  The fact that Mousetrap have relocated from Chichester to Havant also seems to have been ignored.

What was also missing was a response from the local authority. When councils develop well-informed strategic plans for town centres, taking into account economic, environmental and social trends, creating an holistic approach to develop a sustainable town centres for the future, positive results can be achieved.

In Havant’s case, where are the visionaries, either in the executive or elected side of the council, to push this approach forward?

In our opinion, Local Plans are not enough. Town Centres must be prioritised in the same way as Housing, and have on-going policy interventions to stimulate multifaceted developments and action.

A town’s identity is usually based around its town centre. It gives residents their sense of place, their sense of community and hopefully, their sense of pride. It is vital that we all work to achieve a thriving, modern style town centre that will be sustainable and successful.

East Street – ‘There is not enough here’

Our East Street traders are featured once again in tonight’s Portsmouth News.

“More businesses on East Street would be brilliant, because at the moment , there is not enough  to walk down here for – and often when people come in they say they didn’t even know we were here in the first place.”

For some curious reason, while we can find the article on Google, we can’t actually link to it so here it is, as printed.

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