Local Plan 2036 – Saving the whale

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve long thought that cetaceans have a more balanced view of their place on the planet than we humans have, but as far as the ‘Local Plan 2036’ goes, we should retain some sense of proportion; Brent geese and Bechstein’s bats are a little lower down the tree than the derelict spaces in the town centre and the traffic congestion, and an awful lot lower down the tree than those desperate for affordable housing in the borough.

At this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, much time was spent down in the weeds debating the relative importance of geese and bats. Should the Rooks Farm development allocation be removed from the Local Plan to avoid the aggravation of the bats of Long Copse Lane or should the latter allocation be removed from the plan to save upsetting the geese? After a little debate, the sensible conclusion was that these are not the only two highly controversial sites in the Local Plan 2036. There are, as Cllr Hughes articulated clearly, many others.

At one point during the meeting, I was sitting bemused by the debate’s preoccupation with Brent geese and waders, wondering just where the Council tax paying residents fitted in the pecking order. Just then, Cllr Baines queried why the meeting was “spending so much time discussing the needs of geese?”. At last, I thought, back to reality! Sadly, I was mistaken and she went on to suggest that “Bechstein’s bats have just as much entitlement to protection”.

In the end, the Cabinet voted to offer the ‘Pre-submission Local Plan 2036’ unchanged for this evening’s Council meeting to debate and rubber stamp, the general view being that we should all trust the Planning Inspector to do the right thing later in the year. David Hayward did a very efficient job of fielding the points raised by the deputees and the various questions from the Cabinet.

This evening’s Council meeting already has fourteen three-minute deputations to hear and we’ve spared them a fifteenth. Instead we’ll keep our powder dry for the Inspection and try and focus on a high level view of the issues in the context of the wider Havant town centre area.

Talking of high level views, here’s one to think about. Given that the new A27 access to Southleigh is out of the Plan, the Cabinet was told that the access to the Southleigh development area would be from an upgraded Warblington interchange, leading northward to a junction with Barton’s Road.

There’s a fair bit for us all to think about there. Especially the ‘Traffic team’, who as we noted last week need all the help we can contribute.

#rethinkhavant

Are the Traffic team asleep at the wheel?

This would seem to be the question of the moment (read on).

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that this afternoon’s Development Management Committee meeting passed the planning application for a Domino’s pizza takeaway at the former HSBC site by 4 votes to 2.

(To be fair, if the voting had been restricted to the three members of the panel who actually took part, the application would have been rejected by 2 votes to 1. A fourth member of the committee quite surprised us by explaining how intently she’d read the material before accepting the advice of her daughter on how she should vote. Of the remaining two members of the committee, both of whom remained silent throughout, one appeared to be preoccupied with her phone while the other, rather more worryingly, showed few signs of life).

As we’ve explained before, there was little material change to the content of this re-submitted application other than the inclusion of an appendix which seemed little more than a thinly veiled threat. And therein lays the rub…

Faced with an ongoing appeal and an application for costs, HBC were probably never going to reject this resubmitted application; passing the application would provide the easy way out. Against this background, we can forgive Cllr Pike his faux pas of having inadvertently excluded himself from the agenda since we doubt his input would have made any difference anyway.

Only Cllr Satchwell, who probably now has little to lose, provided a voice of sanity, latterly with Cllr Patrick in support.

[If this editor were writing a match report, which he isn’t, those particular players would have rated 8/10 and 7/10 respectively. The other players would have rated 6/10, 3/10 (generous), 0/10 and 0/10]

So what are we left with?

The obvious result is another fast food takeaway in an entirely unsuitable location. The less obvious result will be a measurable increase in the chaos which descends on Park Road South during peak times. Unless, that is, the council put mandatory road signage up to prevent drivers turning right across two lanes of traffic. It’s already bad enough with the entrances and exits from Bulbeck Road and Burger King. With up to 70 delivery drivers an hour coming into and out of the Domino’s site, yes that’s 140 traffic movements, you can see why the traffic impact will be measurable.

We can see that, so why on earth could not the consultee for ‘Traffic Management, East Hampshire District Council’? Havant Civic Society have raised the relevance of this issue til we’re collectively blue in the face, even emailing the gentleman directly. When we expressed our astonishment tonight that the Traffic Management ‘Team’ had not raised the obvious concerns against the application, the Chairman, with an air of resignation, conceded that he took our point. Cllr Satchwell was rather more forthright.

“In the four years that I’ve been on this planning committee, the number of times objections have been raised by Traffic can be counted on the fingers of one hand!”

It didn’t go unnoticed that absolutely no mention was made in the introduction to this agenda item of the public comments raised against this application. Perhaps with forty* objecting and just four in support, the Chairman felt it would be unhelpful.

If Havant Borough Council hopes to get residents engaged with their much vaunted Regeneration Programme, they need to up their game, cut out the dead wood and fix some processes. Ignoring residents’ views and carrying passengers won’t cut it.

#rethinkhavant – Take this link to join us.

[* 37 objections filed by the planning process as ‘public comments’, plus 3 inexplicably filed under ‘Documents’]

Petition regarding the Langstone Railway cottages.

imageMany of us were saddened by last month’s destruction by fire of the railway cottages on the east side of the Langstone Road approach to Hayling Island.  The Grade 2 listed cottages were originally built as labourers’ cottages and later lived in by the crossing-keeper for the Hayling branch line.

A private petition has recently been set up with the intention of urging Havant Borough Council “to do all in its power to ensure this building is restored to its original appearance, thereby recreating the iconic visual feature along Langstone Road, which has existed since the 18th Century.”

With the causes of the fires still under investigation, HCS does not believe that some of the public speculation expressed in comments on this petition is helpful.  However, we are firmly committed to the intention of this petition and support this initiative to seek appropriate restoration of this landmark building.

If you would like to sign the petition, please take this link to Change.org.

St Lucy’s Day pictures

Thursday 13th December marked the first of what we hope will become a regular event in the Gazebo Garden in the run up to Christmas.  This rather magical picture of our ‘St. Lucy’ sums up the evening.

lucymain

For those of you unfamiliar with the Scandinavian tradition of a St Lucy’s Day festival and procession, you will find some background information on Wikipedia here.

Ann Buckley and Canon Tom Kennar from St Faith’s were instrumental in bringing the tradition to Havant in 2018 and we hope to make it an annual event.  We couldn’t fault the lovely gingerbread snacks, the stollen, the mulled fruit drinks and the coffee, but next year we’ll be looking to encourage more enthusiasm in the ‘lantern’ department!

It was a lovely evening in the run up to Christmas and a fine example of the kind of event that the Gazebo Garden can be used for.

Langstone Railway cottages

Like many of our friends and colleagues, we were saddened to see the destruction by fire of the Langstone Railway station master’s cottage last weekend.  The much loved building with its faded yellow wooden siding has been a landmark near the Hayling Billy track since the late 18th century.

We hope that the structure, listed for its historical importance but sadly neglected in recent years, will be restored by the current owners.

The fire is now the matter of a police investigation and further details can be seen in this Portsmouth News article from Tuesday.

Dominos – 39 West Street planning application re-submitted

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised by last week’s re-submission of the 39 West Street ‘Dominos Pizza’ takeaway planning application by Geo. & R. Carrell Properties Ltd. The cynical timing of this application follows an approach often used with contentious applications, sneaking them in during the holiday period when the public are normally distracted.

Once again, this application has been recorded by HBC as  ‘suitable for delegated decision’ by a planning department who are themselves already distracted by a notable lack of management.  Fortunately, the St Faith’s Ward Councillors have responded quickly to our request for support and the application has been ‘red-carded’ to ensure that it will be debated in public by the Development Management Committee in the new year.

39WestStreet

Little, if anything, has changed with the re-application, other than the submission of a 39 page ‘Technical Traffic Note’ which in our view presents little of substance.  Stripping away the largely irrelevant content including three pages in Welsh, we find a ‘detailed’ survey of West Street car parking during a three and a half hour period on a single Friday evening in November.  This primarily relates to the spaces occupied by 6 vehicles in the yellow box in the image above. We are already monitoring use of the car parking over a more representative timescale.

Apart from the obvious issues of parking, both for delivery drivers at the rear of the site and for customer collections, we have a serious concern about the impact on traffic in Park Road South.  The delivery drivers will be turning into and out of the site using the entrance between Rothman’s Accountants and Ian’s hairdresser, marked by the double yellow arrow in the image.  Those of us who use Park Road South regularly will be aware of the impact of traffic turning into and out of Burger King and Bulbeck Road and if this application is approved, then the Dominos delivery traffic will significantly add to that traffic chaos.

The six ward Councillors on the Development Management Committee on October 18th  rejected the original application unanimously and given that there is no material change to this re-application we should expect the same result.

However: Do not assume that because you may have objected to the previous application, you need do nothing.  Previous comments will not be considered and new objections must be raised.  If you agree with us that this re-submitted application should be refused, please take the time to submit an objection by taking this linkComments must be received by Wednesday 2nd January.

If you’re at a loss for words, feel free to take a look at our own response by taking this link.

To view a summary of all previous articles on this website relating to the applications submitted by Carrells for 39 West Street, please take this link.

Christmas wreath making workshop success!

The Christmas Wreath making workshop was organised by the Havant Civic Society and held on Friday 7th at St Faith’s Church, a beautiful  and welcoming venue.

All proceeds were donated to the fund for restoring the historic banner depicting St Faith which is currently at the London School of needlework for assessment.
Hilary Deadman gave an interesting presentation about the banner and the restoration work that is now needed. A presentation about this can be seen on the St Faith’s website.

A ‘Trojan Horse’? – East of Castle Avenue

On November 9th, our Planning Representative noted the application by Persimmon Homes for land east of Castle Avenue. To give some context to this application, here it is superimposed on the current site to the east of Castle Avenue.  Southleigh Road runs to the north along the left hand edge of this image with Warblington Station at the top left hand corner.

Capture2

Our response to this application can be read by taking this link.

This application is just one more in a series of speculative applications which have been appearing for development on land which is proposed for allocation to housing in the Draft Havant Borough Local Plan 2036.

This plan has yet to be adopted by Havant Borough Council, let alone been subject to the necessary formal scrutiny by a Planning Inspector.  As such, we suggest that this application should be rejected until such time as the Draft Local Plan has been adopted and inspected and the bigger picture made much clearer.

For the record, we will also ask that be decided by the full Development Management Committee, not left as a delegated decision.

 

Planning for Biodiversity – FoE meeting

The meeting was organised by Havant Friends of the Earth and held at the United Reformed Church meeting place on Tuesday November 27th at 7:00pm.  HFoEmeeting

Sue Holt introduced Dr. David Rumble of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust who presented on the subject of Planning for Diversity.  The following notes provide a summary of the presentation, including a large number of active links through which the documents referenced by David can be viewed.  Just click the highlighted links to open the references in a separate tab in your browser.

1 – The national picture

David spoke of the decline in biodiversity since the 1970s, illustrated by charts showing the rapid loss of species throughout the seventies as a consequence of the implementation of intensive farming techniques. More recently, as the decline due to agriculture has flattened out, the impact of planning and development policy on habitat loss is more noticeable.

Four documents were referenced, please follow the links to access the detail:

  • National Planning Policy Framework – Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The NPPF contains comprehensive guidance intended to ensure maintenence and development of biodiversity.
  • A Green Future – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. DEFRA’s recently published approach to managing the environment.
  • Biodiversity Net Gain – Good practice principles for development from the construction industry and for developers, intended to ensure that projects leave biodiversity in a better state than before work begins.
  • A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife – Chris Packham’s recently published campaign document.

2 – The local picture

The Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) has resulted in plans for 104,350 new homes and 1 million square feet of new employment across the Solent area.

David outlined how direction and targets set by central government has left local authority planners ‘between a rock and a hard place’.  The current State of Hampshire Biodiversity document is now 12 years old and the importance of enforcement of the NPPF, DEFRA and Biodiversity Net Gain guidance in planning decisions was stressed.

Local biodiversity topics were covered, including the newly published Solent Waders and Brent Geese Strategy.

Bird Aware Solent is an initiative to raise awareness of the birds that spend the winter on the Solent, so that people can enjoy the coast and its wildlife without disturbing the birds.

There are a number of local coastal defence issues arising from predicted climate change sea level rise.  Havant Civic Society is already involved with the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership exercise on the Langstone shore, but David also stressed the issue of loss of habitat to the west at Southmoor where privately owned sea defenses are in danger of imminent collapse.

On the positive side, the Havant thicket reservoir project could create significant biodiversity net gain.

More information can be found on the HBIC – Hampshire Biodiversity information Centre website. David presented a summary of the Ecological Network Map for Hampshire detail from which can be seen by taking the link.

3 – What can be done.

In addition to aligning with county based initiatives,  Havant Borough Council should revisit and revise the ‘Havant Biodiversity Action Plan’.  The latest version of this document, viewable here at the Havant FOE site, dates from 2011 and is out of date.

The Wildlife Trusts and friends have convinced Westminster Government of the need for a new law – an Environment Act – to improve protection for the country’s wildlife.MPs will be voting on this soon, so we need them to support a strong Environment Act.  You can find out more and take individual action here.

HIWWT have written a Discussion Paper entitled ‘Wilder’, opening discussion on creating a wilder Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Havant Borough Environment Group Questionnaire

Ray Cobbett presented the work-in-progress findings of the Havant Borough Environment Group questionnaire.  More than 670 responses have been received to date and if you’ve not already had your say, please take the link to complete it.

Havant Friends of the Earth can be found here.

You can follow David Rumble’s blog at this link.