Meeting with the new Havant Tree Wardens – Monday 15th

Rob Ford, the new Tree Warden for Havant, and Malinda Griffin, The Havant Tree Wardens’ coordinator,  will outline their proposal for a ‘tree walk’ for Havant at a meeting in the Wheelright’s Arms on Monday evening, 15th October.D7C_7099

The Tree Warden scheme was set up by The Tree Council, the UK’s lead charity for trees, promoting their importance in a changing environment.  It was founded as the national tree planting campaign that would follow up the success of the campaign to “Plant A Tree In ’73”, encouraging action for trees and running National Tree Week.

With 34 Tree Wardens, the Havant Borough Tree Warden network has wardens in most areas, including Hayling Island, Emsworth, Waterlooville, Leighpark and Bedhampton. The HBTW network was re-established in 2006 and TWs are involved in the following activities: tree trails and publishing tree trail booklets, putting on tree exhibition, giving guided tree walks, giving talks about HBTW network, tree planting, seed collecting and planting projects with local (primary) schools, warning Tree Officer of threats to trees, supporting the establishment of Tree Preservation Orders.

Havant has been without a Tree Warden for a long while so this is a good opportunity for those of us who value the trees around us to get involved in the planning and development of this walk.   If you’re interested in joining us, the meeting will be held in the back room of the Wheelright’s from 6:30pm.

We’re backing Britain – again!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about the sad loss of the 1960s Colt office building at the north end of New Lane.  The ‘We’re Backing Britain’ campaign from 1968 which spread rapidly down the lane to Kenwood, has been immortalised in a BBC Radio 4 play, first broadcast on Sunday 23rd September.  Available on BBC iPlayer at this link, it’s well worth forty five minutes of your time if you remember those days and the importance of New Lane to the town of Havant in the sixties.

The ‘We’re Backing Britain’ campaign was soon picked up by Kenwood, just down the lane from Colt, and I was delighted to see a terrific turnout at The Spring on Saturday 29th September for the launch of their six month Heritage Lottery funded Kenwood local history project.

Soon after my seventeenth birthday, I punched into the time clock at the Kenwood factory for my first experience of paid employment. Within an hour I was handed a roll of ‘Kenwood – We’re Backing Britain’ stickers, the ‘K’ of Kenwood picked out in the colours of the union flag.  The stickers, intended for the boxes of appliances leaving the production lines, were also proudly displayed on the flasks, lunchboxes, bicycles and cars of the workforce.

#kenwood #havant

HCS AGM and Public Meeting – September 26th 2018

We would like to thank all those who attended last night’s meeting at St Faith’s Church, with particular thanks to our guest speaker Tracey Viney from Portsmouth Water Company.

ReservoirTracey’s presentation on the Havant Thicket Winter Storage Reservoir project was of great interest. It’s a project which has been long in the planning and approvals stage but which is now gathering momentum.

For further details, click on the image and the project website will open in a new browser tab.

The full set of slides from the HCS part of the meeting can be viewed by taking this link.

Following the re-election of the Committee, our new roles for 2018-19, correctly aligned to our recently restored constitution, can be seen by taking the links under ‘About us’ in the main menu of the website.

The online survey issued before the meeting proved to be useful, with 35 respondents to date. Rather than immediately deleting the records, we will leave the survey open for a further week so if you’ve not taken the opportunity to have your say, the survey will be active at this link until the Wednesday, October 3rd.

If you don’t want to page through the full slide set, those relating to the first part of the survey can be viewed here.  Summaries of the free text entries under the “Which aspects of Havant have annoyed you most?” and “Which aspects of Havant have pleased you most?” questions, duly anonymised, can be viewed by taking those links.  There’s something for everyone in there, though sadly few surprises.

We draw your particular attention the section of the presentation, slides 20 to 24, which covers Ann Buckley’s update on the Havant Borough Local Plan to 2036.  Please read these carefully and take note of the meeting dates in your diaries.  We will be adding the dates to our What’s On calendar in due course.

In our summing up, we stressed the opportunity that Havant now has to be the town centre destination of choice for our rapidly expanding residential population. It’s now critical that Havant Borough Council grasp that opportunity.  The regeneration of the town centre ‘brown field’ sites, with the quality of development that Havant deserves, is long overdue.

We ran out of time last night before I could pass the following comment.

“I was born in Southsea, brought up in Portsmouth and moved to Havant in 1975.  In my childhood, there were always two depressing, dirty railway towns ‘up the line’, one being Havant, the other Petersfield.

Petersfield got its act together long ago and it’s high time that Havant did the same. Of those two railway towns, Havant’s potential is so much the greater.”

As we said last night, please take the time to contact your councillors and make your views known. If you don’t know who they are, you can find them here. Their postal and email addresses are clearly stated.

If you’re unhappy with the response, please let us know.

Thank you for your support.

Bob Comlay

Chairman

 

 

 

 

 

Langstone Sea Defences

If you’ve been traveling into Portsmouth recently – or more specifically around Portsea Island – you cannot fail to have noticed the ongoing work on design and development of new sea defences.

While this is well outside our area, the problem of global sea level rise and the rapidly decaying state of sea defences along the British coastline is a significant issue.  Our own coastline is potentially at risk from Bedhampton and Southmoor in the west to Langstone and Warblington in the east,


On behalf of Havant Borough Council, the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP) will shortly be undertaking ground and structural investigation works around the Langstone seafront to determine the condition of existing defenses. These works will involve undertaking a series of boreholes, trial pits and concrete core samples to collect samples to determine the ground and existing defense structure conditions.

ESCP have invited Havant Civic Society to join their Langstone Stakeholder Working Group to provide input to the requirements and design phases of this important project.

Along with our partners at the Langstone Residents’ Association and other interested local stakeholder groups, we attended a workshop at the Langstone Hotel on September 5th, the first of a series of such meetings to be scheduled throughout the design and delivery projects.   There will be a public event in November where ESCP will present their shortlisted design options, and a further public event in June 2019 for residents and businesses to comment on the Outline Design.

Two documents from Wednesday’s workshop may be of interest and can be viewed by taking the following links:

Langstone Ground & Structural Investigation Works Poster
ESCP Presentation to LSWG 05/09/2018

We will keep you posted with news on these events as the program of work continues.

£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]

Litter vandals are on the loose in Havant Town Centre!

On most days, purple bags of litter are stacked for collection by Norse, Havant Borough Council’s operations management organisation. Sometimes up to twenty bags are stacked against the Bulbeck Wall, near Santander Bank, often left overnight.

Regularly, paper, food and other detritus of all sorts, is strewn across the grass verge, pavement and road.

In the Summer months at least it is contained nearer to the bags, but come Autumn and Winter and early Spring, the wind blows this rubbish across the road, into Homewell, a Conservation area, and it looks a mess.

Who are these litter vandals tearing the bags open and spilling the contents out in this way?  AA2_3474They are none other than herring gulls, with the support of the black headed gulls if they can get a look in.

The herring gulls were never seen in this area in the recent past, but now thanks to this logistical decision for the collection of the town centre litter, they are permanent residents in the area.

However the real culprit who has created this litter problem, the Mr Big behind the vandal gulls activities, is Norse, to whom Havant Borough Council has outsourced waste management and street cleaning.

Sometimes this mess is a health hazard, other times just a mess, but a better, more efficient method of storing the bags, ready for collection should be devised by Norse to deter the gulls and contain the bags in an aesthetically pleasing way in the town centre.

The bags are next to the town centre multi-storey car park, where visitors and workers arrive every day. What a visual welcome is arranged for them all?

Residents want to feel proud of where they live, and the local authority has a duty to implement a policy to improve the economy and well-being of the town, rather than allowing their agent to detrimentally affect this important aim.

Perhaps the Ward Councillors should take to regularly monitoring the situation at different times of the year, or request a better way to deal with the vitally important collection of town centre litter. It would certainly gain approval from the residents.

But then again, we could ask the Havant Borough Council Civil Enforcement Officers to issue litter fines to the organisation behind the litter problem. Now that would be interesting.

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.

Development Consultation Forum on Housing to the north of Bartons Road

Today’s Development Consultation Forum at the Havant Plaza gave us the first sight of an outline proposal for around 90 new homes on land immediately west of The Oaks crematorium. The presentation, by planning consultants engaged by the land owner, White Farming Ltd., aka Southleigh Estate, highlighted the fact that a considerable amount of work has already been done despite the fact that the site concerned does not appear at all on the currently adopted Local Plan.  Residents of the Barton’s Rise estate present at the meeting commented that they had been assured when they bought their homes that there were no plans for development on their eastern boundary ‘because of proximity to the crematorium.’  Their anger and frustration is justifiable.

From a parochial Havant Civic Society viewpoint, it could be argued that the Barton’s Road site is ‘not in our patch’.  However, with rapid expansion of housing development now encircling the town centre, it’s important that we consider the potential impacts on and benefits for the town centre as a natural destination for these new communities.

Firstly, some geographical context to this evening’s Development Consultation Forum. In the picture below, ‘The Oaks’ crematorium is at the top left and the Wyevale Garden Centre is at the bottom of the frame, slightly left of centre. Bartons road runs from the west at the bottom, to the north at the top. Eastleigh Road can be seen running southwards – left to right – from the Spire hospital to its junction with Southleigh Road, centre right.

This same aerial view will be radically different in ten years time, with most of the arable farmland replaced by housing.  Whether or not the schools, GP surgeries and transport infrastructure will be in place to service those houses were questions high on the agenda of the members of public represented at tonight’s Development Consulting Forum.

At the top of the picture, Southleigh House is already earmarked for around 90 homes.  On the large field occupying the right hand side of this image, the site road is already under construction from Barton’s Road leading to another 175 houses planned by Bellway.  Towards the bottom on the left hand side, the Linden Homes ‘Barton’s Rise’ estate can be seen opposite the entrance to the garden centre.  Each of these housing developments are on land allocated in the currently adopted Local Plan and, therefore, come as no surprise. The issue we are highlighting is that the proposal now under discussion relates to land not previously allocated for housing.

The development forum was considering the preliminary stages of an application by the Southleigh Estate to develop the land between the Crematorium access road and the recently developed Linden Homes ‘Barton’s Rise’ estate.  Using the landowner’s consultant’s charts, here is the site in its more normal ‘north up’ orientation with Barton’s Road running from left to right in the middle with the Spire Hospital at the top right. The crematorium is off the top of this picture, but the site access road can be clearly seen.

Now, let’s put the proposed development into this context:

The proposal is for around 85-90 houses, with the usual mix of ‘affordable’, running from a site access road taken straight from a new T- junction from the crematorium access road.

It’s interesting to note that the bottom half of this picture falls within the remit of Havant Borough Council while the top half, left pleasantly green, is the responsibility of East Hants District Council.

The efforts by the landowner’s consultants to assure residents that the land to the north of the new houses, including the community orchard visible at top right of the diagram alongside the crematorium, would remain as a well run and managed ‘open space’ probably fell on deaf ears.  It doesn’t take much of a gambler to lay odds that EHDC would jump at the chance of developing the top half of this site should HBC set the precedent.  After all, that would be another fifty houses off their own targets while Havant schools and GPs would be left shouldering the responsibility for the residents.

Graham Beeston from Warblington and Denvilles Residents’ Association and Frank Ball from Rowlands Castle Parish Council both made presentations expressing similar concerns. Both groups share our frustration that these development proposals seem not to be underpinned by a robust and comprehensive infrastructure plan designed to ensure that the necessary schools, medical, services and transport infrastructure are in place before these new residents pick up their front door keys.

We appreciated Councillor Leah Turner opening the meeting to the floor in a welcome change from normal protocol. However, the resulting discussion was illuminating, highlighting the anger and frustration of the Barton’s Rise residents outlined above.  A resident from the south side of Barton’s road asked whether the Council fully appreciated that the area had no access to shops and services and poor transport links, with the nearest bus stop 800 metres away.  The consultants responded that they’d discussed that issue, but First Bus saw insufficient demand from this site to justify re-routing their buses.  If ever there was a need for an overarching and comprehensive infrastructure plan, this was it.

There was further worrying news from the Barton’s Rise residents who reported that bat boxes on the proposed development site had mysteriously been removed within the last couple of weeks; curious timing given tonight’s Development Consultation Forum.  The landowner’s consultants were quick to say they had no knowledge of such action and were equally quick to confirm that such an act in an area known to host Bechstein’s bats would be a criminal act that would not be in the interest of the landowner.

We will keep a close eye on any plans for this site as and when they are lodged with HBC.