New and revised applications linking East Street to The Pallant

Updated 29/10/2020 – Clarification of ‘supported living‘ application.

Just like buses, planning applications sometimes come in threes. One last week and two this week are worth considering together since between them they cover the missing link between the derelict frontages in East Street and the derelict frontage in the Pallant.

The common factors here are the local architect Peter Galloway Partnership, a practice which has clearly been busy over the last few weeks and months and the developer, which is ‘P & N Developments and Investments‘, operating under different company names from their Penner Road address.

Since there are rather a lot of drawings to look at, we’ve pulled out some of the details in this post.

While outside taking these rather badly stitched pictures in the rain this morning, I got talking with a local property owner whose vision had once been to convert this gap into “something attractive like ‘The Lanes at Brighton'”. Now that’s not really so very far fetched as an aspiration.

Sadly, in these sad days of ludicrous government housing targets and rather myopic local authorities, a few more ‘not quite’ shoe-box homes is what you’re inevitably going to see here.

Two more of the long running eyesore gaps in our town centre frontages, on the left, in East street, and on the right, in the Pallant, are the subject of three planning applications lodged in the past week.

On the slide below, East Street is on the left and the Pallant is on the right. The three numbered red rectangles show the rough site of each application which we’ll look at in turn, from right to left starting in the Pallant.

Application 1

The first application, APP/20/00913 is for “Demolition of existing buildings in a conservation area and erection of 2 No. 3 bed houses, 1 No. 1 bed apartment and 1 No. 2 bed maisonette.”

This includes demolition of the old Prince George Gallery, the single story picture framing studio and the former Streets kitchenware shop to its left. In their place, providing an entrance to the rest of the site, is this proposed frontage.

It looks tidy enough and the layout shown here shows two end-terrace houses joined by a ground floor flat and a 2 bed maisonette over three floors. In these drawings, The Pallant is on the right hand side, with the properties behind the frontage accessed via the arch beneath the ‘Guest bedroom’ on the first floor. Click the image to view larger.

Since it’s likely that vehicle access to all three of these developments will be via The Pallant, traffic in that road will increase very slightly. We say slightly, because there are only 4 parking spaces available for the twenty housing units proposed. Most residents are assumed to be using bicycles, buses or Shanks’ pony.

Construction traffic will prove to be a temporary issue, though it’s possible that much of the heavy delivery loads could be craned over from the Bear Hotel car park.

To view the main drawing as a PDF file, please take this link.

Take this link to view the full details of this application on the HBC Planning access site.

To comment on this application, take this link. You have until Friday November 13 to submit your comments.

Application 2

APP/20/00935 –  Erection of 6 No. 3 bed dwellings, with 4 No. car parking spaces at 11 East Street.

The second application is for a row of 6 town houses, with three bedrooms each and sharing just four car parking spaces. These houses will be accessed via the arch at The Pallant from the previous application.

It’s not clear why Peter Galloway has shown these frontages with six synchronised dancers on the doorsteps, but hey, we’ll call it ‘architectural licence’.

These frontages face west, with the backs of the properties overlooking the wall into the Bear Hotel car park. To all intents and purposes, unless you go through the archway in The Pallant, which I suspect will be gated, you’ll never actually see these townhouses.

Click the image to view the floorplans a little larger. Suffice to say, at 90m2 for a three bed, three story town house, they are perhaps a little cosy.

To view the larger drawing, including the other elevations, please take this link.

Take this link to view the details of this application on the HBC Planning access site.

To comment on this application, take this link. You have until Friday November 13 to submit your comments.

Application 3

APP/20/00933 – Demolition of existing retail unit (no. 9 East Street) and construction of 10 no. supported living units, use Class C2, 9 East Street

The last application, fronting East Street, is for number 9 East Street – the frontage adjoining Streets, in the middle of this drawing.

Use class C2 is for a ‘Residential Institution’ and looking at the Developer‘s company records, we assume that the operator is likely to be Dolphin Homes, registered as providing support for residents with ‘learning difficulties, challenging behaviour, physical disabilities and complex health needs, autism and Asperger’s syndrome’ who already run other properties in the area.

While the need for this type of ‘care in the community’ is not disputed, individual residents will have their own views on whether or not this is the best use for what should be a prime town centre property or whether, indeed, it’s the most appropriate location for the intended residents themselves. Within Havant Borough, Havant town already provides a fair share of such facilities and perhaps now other towns within the borough ought to be stepping up to the plate.

Supported Living flats, 9 East Street

The ten flats are spread across four floors, with associated support offices, visitor accommodation and shared social areas. Click on the floor plans to zoom in to the detail.

Take this link to view the details of this application on the HBC Planning access site.

To comment on this application, take this link. You have until Friday November 13 to submit your comments.

As a last word to the applicant, since Nitrate Calculations are now the ‘flavour of the month‘, a little more attention to detail might be good. We’d also question the maths. Surely, given the fact that half of these are single bedroom flats, the average population of all twenty of these housing units can’t really be 2.4? Oh, and your use of ‘Comic Sans’ as a font hasn’t gone unnoticed. Perhaps this is just your way of suggesting that this nitrate mitigation approach is, after all, a bit of a joke?!

(Yes, I know the next image is a repeat, but it’s only here because the default image that Facebook picks up is the last one in the post. Sigh…..)

Retail secrets – My Yarnery

An unashamed plug for one of our wonderfully resilient niche independent retail shops. Forced to close by the lack of space in South Street to operate in a ‘Covid-safe’ manner, it looks like the folk at MyYarnery have now found a new – and highly individual – retail premise. Tucked away behind the old Clarks Shoe shop, they hope to open soon.

#rethinkhavant – Shop locally!

Havant Borough Council – Quote of the day

“Noted [14 times], however reasons why the work may be proposed is not a consideration which can be taken into account when dealing with a Section 211 notice.”

Yes indeed, Portsmouth Water are now free to employ out of town tree surgeons to clear branches and fell trees in what looks suspiciously like a pre-emptive clearance for a development project that still hasn’t been brought before planning.

They might at least have agreed to employ some of the many decent, hard working tree surgeons who live in and around the town.

Yet another delegated decision by Havant Borough Council despite the genuine concerns raised by owners of the neighbouring properties, staff at the Bosmere Medical Centre and other Havant residents.

If you wrote to object, you’ll find the council’s rather dismissive response to your concern in this document.

And we thought that a Section 211 notice applied to the preservation of trees. Silly us.


The very thin end of a very large Portsmouth Water wedge

[Updated, 15/10/2020]

We have a soft spot for trees. We also have a soft spot for green spaces. We also understand that Havant’s tree canopy is, at best, poor by national standards. In a world where the value of trees and the importance of the tree canopy to the overall health of the community is increasingly understood and valued, it’s worth checking out the seemingly innocuous planning applications for tree work.

Portsmouth Water currently have a planning application for proposed works to trees in a the Brockhampton conservation area. On closer reading, this one is undoubtedly a precursor to a series of planning applications for extensive redevelopment of the entire Portsmouth Water site, including the building of new industrial premises and a large tranche of 135 dwellings.

The current planning application details the works to be carried out on a number of trees around the Brockhampton Spring, behind the Portsmouth Water offices in West Street. The plan of works may be unreadable here, but if you click the image, the detailed plan will open and you can zoom in.

If you’ve not quite figured out where this is, it’s the area covered by the yellow rectangle on this image, with the Bosmere Medical Centre, M&S and Next at the bottom.

The detail of the work being proposed looks like straightforward maintenance of existing woodland:

Trees 2, 3 and 4 (all Ash)Crown lift all round to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Tree 10 (Wingnut) – Crown lift all round to provide 4.0m ground level clearance
Tree 11 (Willow) – Fell Dead trunk
Tree 18 (Lime) – Crown lift on the southern to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Trees 22 and 23 (Lime) – Crown lift on the southern to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Tree 24 (Ash x2) – Fell to ground level
Trees 25 and 26 (Willow) – Dead trees – fell
Tree 27 (Ash) – Fell
Grp 1 (Elder and Hawthorn) coppice at ground level”

Now it might seem that Portsmouth Water appear to be taking the health of their trees seriously, but the reality is rather more sinister. When we first looked at this one, we were distracted by the trees and didn’t see the wood, so to speak. Having now been gently reprimanded by a reader, we’ve taken a deeper look and would encourage you to read the fine print in that planning application. To help you, we’ve cut it out and you can see it by clicking this image.

The references to fencing and the need to accommodate heavy machinery to remove a culvert suggest strongly that this is indeed the first real planning application to emerge since we reported on the Development Consultation Forum relating to the proposed new Portsmouth Water HQ site almost exactly a year ago.

Given the position of the site in the Brockhampton Conservation area, we look to Havant Borough Council to take a proactive role here, defining an extended arboricultural plan for the entire site, preserving and extending the natural cover provided by this valuable local asset as a pre-requisite to all future development activity in the conservation area.

There is a much bigger picture that really should be considered. The portfolio of changes proposed by Portsmouth Water is far reaching, including the building of a new HQ building and new industrial premises immediately to the north and west of the Bosmere Medical Centre, and the construction of up to 135 dwellings on the the remainder of the land formerly occupied by the current West Street headquarters buildings.

These development plans, for various demolition, construction and landscaping works, will be drip fed into the planning system by the landowner, each in isolation. Common sense dictates that an overall master-plan should be documented, consulted on and approved to fully assess the cumulative impact of these plans on residents, the Bosmere medical centre, the town centre traffic and the environment.

We will be making this point clear in our response and strongly objecting to this planning application until such time as a master plan for the site is available for public scrutiny. If you want to make your own comment on this application, please take this link and complete the comment form.

Comments must be submitted before Tuesday October 27th.


That Planning Reform debate…

There were some excellent contributions from a wide variety of backbenchers – notably mostly from the same side as our own Alan Mak MP. Having read with interest the submission that he put his name to, we were looking forward to his contribution to the debate, a summary of which can be found in today’s Grauniad.

If you have 5 hours and 40 minutes to spare, you can watch it here on iPlayer for the next 29 days. If you want to skip the last 5 hours, you might just be in good company.

The Speaker kicked things off with a warning that since so many back bench MPs wanted to speak in depth about their constituency’s concerns, each would be limited to four minutes. Now there are a lot of important points about Havant’s housing concerns that could be voiced in four minutes by a dedicated MP so we settled down to watch.

Bob Seely, from our neighbouring Isle of Wight constituency, started the debate in eloquent style, with our man waiting eagerly for his chance (top left).

It was rather unfortunate that Bob Seely’s proposal was interrupted unnecessarily at times by other MPs clearly seeking selfies for their constituency blogs before heading for an early exit.

Then just thirty minutes into the debate, we note that our man had moved down beside Phillip Hollobone (Con. Kettering) and is seen here adjusting his tie before his own stage entrance.

Exactly 32 minutes into the debate, Philip Hollobone politely gives way and our man gets to his feet to use all of 12 seconds to tell the house that his ‘constituency of Havant has areas of high urbanisation and areas of environmental sensitivity’.

Here’s the clip. We catch Phillip Hollobone half way through his considered contribution, including the 12 seconds in the middle where our MP makes what might have been his sole mark on the debate*.

A few short minutes later and poor old Bob Seely looks remarkably short of support from this part of Hampshire.

* For the avoidance of doubt, We’d be grateful if somebody could watch the whole five hours and forty minutes of the debate at the link at the top of this post and let us know the time at which Alan Mak returns to make his full four minute contribution. We’ll then update this post for all to see.

Update: We’ve checked Hansard and those were indeed the only words spoken by him.


Tiny flats to be banned under new planning rules

In another government outbreak of sanity, following on from our piece on Shoebox living, we’re pleased to notice in the Times today that the government is now planning to clamp down on this abuse of Permitted Development rules.

Interestingly, the new minimum space requirement will be 37 m2 for a one bedroom flat, meaning that the Prince George Street development behind the North Street Arcade just about squeezes in. The flats already for sale at the former Trentham art gallery on the other side of the road, at 30 m2, don’t though. Hmmm.

Full text of the Times article follows:

“Developers will be blocked from creating tiny flats in former office buildings dubbed the “slums of the future” after the government announced that it would impose minimum size requirements.

A relaxation in planning rules in 2013 paved the way for office blocks to be converted into thousands of flats without any space standards. Some landlords exploited the freedoms to build minuscule, sub-standard flats with limited access to natural light that were often used by councils to house children and vulnerable adults.

Times investigation last year revealed that landlords were making millions from flats as small as one third of the minimum required under normal planning rules.

Families have been squeezed into noisy, mould-ridden bedsits built on industrial estates and alongside busy roads. Some developments had no outside windows while in one case a developer lodged plans to convert a ground-floor office into flats measuring 8.3 sq m and 9 sq m, smaller than a standard parking space.

Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said that permitted development rights were helping to deliver new homes and that “most developers deliver good homes and do the right thing”.

He said he was “tackling the minority of developers abusing the system by announcing that new homes delivered will have to meet space standards”.

Minimum space standards, which require at least 37 sq m for a one-bed, one-person flat and 61 sq m for a two-bed flat for three people, will now apply to conversions carried out under permitted development rules.

The government will use secondary legislation to make the change, although a spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government declined to say when this would be.

A report commissioned by the government which was belatedly released this year found that 78 per cent of flats built under permitted development rules did not meet minimum space standards.

Ben Clifford, who led the team of independent academics who wrote the report, said that “most of the permitted development schemes we saw were significantly below” minimum space standards and were “cell-like” in size.

He said that 60,000 flats had been built under permitted development rights, meaning that there was already “a huge volume of really tiny flats that we’re stuck with and may be dealing with the consequences of for some time”.

Nevertheless, he said that it was a “welcome announcement”, particularly before a possible increase of office conversions as the coronavirus pandemic has led many companies to encourage staff to work from home.

The government made changes this year to require homes built under permitted development rights to provide adequate natural light.

Alan Jones, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, welcomed the change.

“The government has done the right thing by closing this dangerous loophole and ensuring new permitted development housing across England will have adequate space and light — standards that should be a given,” he said.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, said that it was a “positive step” that “along with the earlier announcement requiring homes to have access to natural light, will hopefully prevent the very worst homes coming through permitted development rights”.

She said further action was needed to ensure that homes were built in suitable locations and with access to outdoor space.

“We have seen families being forced to live in the middle of industrial estates, where the only place for children to play is car parks,” she said.

The association is calling for legislation to set basic standards for healthy homes.

The government is expanding permitted development rights to allow two-storey extensions on blocks of flats and detached buildings and the change is to be debated in the Commons.

Some Conservative MPs — particularly those in suburban London constituencies — have expressed concern over plans to allow two-storey extensions to be added to homes and tower blocks without planning permission.”

Debating the ‘Shaping’ of ‘our Future’

Wednesday evening’s council meeting lived up to expectations. Not a particularly hard challenge since expectations were frankly not high to start with. It was the first time I’d watched a full council meeting via Skype for Business and all I can say is I sincerely hope that the the council’s move to Microsoft Teams Live Events provides a better ‘user experience’ for us council tax payers. Netflix it isn’t.

The main reason for sitting in on it was to watch the debate on the ‘Shaping our Future‘ initiative. This also went as well as might have been expected. With four council members and the Mayor in the chamber, the rest were remote, some attentive, the others probably distracted by their phones as has been observed in these pages before. No change there then. We weren’t even given the opportunity to examine our councillor’s personal background bookshelf arrangements and just had to put up with the single live (?) feed shown in this image.

The document under debate can be seen here. Put in simple terms, Havant Borough Council agreed a few years back to an executive takeover by East Hants District Council, so having followed it by the abdication of the next level of management down, isn’t it obvious that they should now move to a single, shared workforce at all levels of the company. (Ooops sorry, I mean ‘democratic institution’)

This point wasn’t lost on Councillor Beryl Francis who pointed out that the decisions taken so far on this topic had lacked even council scrutiny, let alone public scrutiny. At the end of the ‘debate’, Cllr Francis was the only member who appeared to vote with her conscience, with regard to her constituents and on behalf of those members of the Havant Borough Council work force most affected by this.

No matter, as expected, the motion was carried. With one vote against and one abstention (That was Cllr Patrick, who having taken fifty minutes to master the technology and log into the meeting, did the only honourable thing she could.)

The rest of them followed their herd instinct, rather like their peers at Warblington farm on my early morning walk today. As for promises of cost and efficiency savings, well we’ve heard all that before haven’t we? Cllr Pike, who in his private and public life normally drives the herd rather than follows it, cautioned that with central government interventions on devolution in the pipeline, directions may need to change.

Does any of this matter? Well I think it does. I’ve been in contact with HBC this week on the subject of the dilapidated and dangerous state of some of the East Street buildings. So far, I’ve been really impressed by the interaction and feedback on proposed actions that I’ve been getting from the combined HBC/East Hants management team.

There is one slight cloud though. The email below, spotted in an exchange today, is a little bit of a giveaway. It seems that if you’re engaging with East Hants management staff, unless you can get a councillor to speak for you, you’re probably wasting your time.

Is this really the service that Havant Council tax payers are going to get when our ‘Future’ has been ‘Shaped’?

CPRE ‘Call to Action’ on planning reform

(Post updated, 23/9/2020)

CPRE, ‘The countryside charity’, has produced a couple of important presentations that are well worth your time to read and understand. The material was shown at a seminar given by Caroline Dibden, Vice-president CPRE, to members of the Havant Borough Residents Alliance yesterday at the Gazebo Garden. While we weren’t present at this meeting, Caroline has passed on the material and reviewed this post.

The government’s recently published White Paper on Planning for the Future (PftF), available online in both glossy or detailed formats, has been published as a consultation exercise and it is vital that we all read, understand and respond to this. The timelines are tight with the first level of response, to the housing need numbers, having a deadline of October 1st.

CPRE have responded with two presentations from which the slides below are taken. There are links to the two presentations in PDF form in the following text and we’d urge you to digest the detail and consider the guidance provided while you shape your own responses. The impact of the proposed planning reforms on Havant and the rest of South Hampshire would be high. The first presentation covers the CPRE response in its own White Paper. The second presentation contains more detailed analysis, with hints and tips on how to respond. To view the presentations, click on the links and they will open as PDF files in separate browser tabs.

The two ‘killer slides’ from the CPRE White Paper are shown below. The first demonstrates the effect of the change in the ‘Standard Method‘ used to calculate housing need across the South Hampshire area. For Havant, this suggests an increase from 504 homes per year based on the 2014 numbers currently used, to 962 homes per year in the ‘new world’, a 91% increase.

Click on the image to view in a separate tab

The second slide demonstrates the extent to which the new ‘housing need’ exceeds the actual demographic need for homes in each borough which in the case of Havant is a whopping 105%! This might be great news for HBC coffers and the likes of Persimmon Homes, but it’s clearly bad news for the quality of life of residents and wildlife alike.

With HBC trumpeting the dubiously coloured herring which is the Warblington Farm nitrate mitigation initiative as the magic answer to their ‘development log jam’, we should all have cause for concern.

The following chart from the second CPRE presentation shows an analysis by Lichfields of the national impact of these changes. This chart demonstrates that despite the government’s stated intention to ‘level up’, the bulk of new house building remains in the south east. As a long-established planning consultancy, Lichfields own blog entry on the subject is also a useful reference.

Once you’ve digested the reading, select an appropriate beverage and settle down to make your views known to the government.

To respond regarding the new housing numbers, respond to the Changes to the Current Planning System by the deadline of 1st October by taking this link and scrolling down page to ‘Ways to respond‘. You will see the options to Respond online, by email or by letter.

To respond regarding democracy, respond to the Planning White Paper by the deadline of 29th October  by taking this link and scrolling down page to ‘Ways to respond‘. You will see the options to Respond online, by email or by letter.

Please also write to your MP about this matter.

Last but not least, please consider signing this petition set up by CPRE.

This is an important use of your time!

Other useful reading:

The Wrong Answers to the Wrong Questions
A really useful article by planning academics challenging the assumptions behind the White Paper

An explanation of the reasons why the reforms won’t address housing need and affordability

RIBA blog
The architecture profession’s reaction to the reforms

A crowdfunded legal challenge to the GDPO and Use Class changes

Planning Law Blog
A blog by ‘Simonicity’ – includes analysis of the legal challenge

Drowning in Development: The Planning White Paper and the full-scale
attack on local democracy.

A discussion paper from the Bosham Association

CPRE seminar held at the Gazebo Garden

Caroline Dibden, CPRE Vice-president and our local contact for the CPRE South Hampshire District Group, met with members of the Havant Borough Residents Alliance yesterday at the Gazebo Garden and ran a ‘socially distanced’ seminar.

CPRE seminar to HBRA contacts at the Gazebo Garden, 21/9/2020. (Photo by Ann Buckley, HBRA)

From left to right, Anne Skenerton, Chair ‘Hayling Island Residents’ Association’, Pat Moore, ‘Havant Climate Alliance & Friends of the Earth’, Charles Ashe, Planning Officer ‘Emsworth Residents’ Association’, Caroline Dibden CPRE, Dave Parham from ‘Save our Island’. 

HCS were not present at the seminar due to lack of space in these Covid times, however we did receive the material on circulation afterwards.

We are indebted to Caroline for the copies of her slides and you can take this link to read our own understanding of the issues.

Detail from the East Street ‘hard hat’ area

Following on from our recent set of tired but lovely photographs, here’s an altogether more disturbing set of images from East Street. Each one shows clear points of danger to pedestrians in what must surely be one of the worst kept Conservation Areas in Hampshire.

In order, dangerously loose and broken tiling to the faces of the former White Hart, dangerously loose lead flashing at 19 East Street, loose and missing roof tiles above Filarinskis, serious render and window sash deterioration at Streets and loose tiles over broken guttering at 23-25 East Street.

All of these danger points overhang the pavement in East Street, and all of them represent a clear danger to pedestrians passing underneath.

We’re asking Havant Borough Council to step up to the mark and take appropriate enforcement actions.