Taking Responsibility for Traffic Management

Updated 18/4/2021 07:00

Background to this article

A planning application is under review for an unnamed international warehousing and distribution company to set up a ‘last mile delivery’ operation at the former Pfizer site in New Lane. The 24/7, three shift operation will provide the base for more than 800 delivery vans servicing Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey, generating well over 5,000 vehicle movements each day of the week.

This is a long read in five related sections. If anything in this article strikes a chord with you, skip to the bottom, and write to your councillors. There’s a link there to help you find their email addresses.

To skip directly to a section, take one of these links:

  1. HBC’s lack of focus on traffic
  2. Traffic – What’s the problem?
  3. The railway bottlenecksFrom Bedhampton to Bosham
  4. The future of New Lane
  5. Postscript for HBC Councillors

HBC’s lack of focus on traffic

The current planning application for the former Pfizer site at 32 New Lane has raised a storm of objections over the inevitable impact that the development would have on town traffic. Each of those objections stands on its own individual merits but a recurring theme throughout is concern for the increased danger to cyclists and pedestrians, from school age to the elderly, from such a significant increase in traffic movements on residential streets. This additional traffic and its inevitable pollution will directly impact the three primary schools within a mile of the site. Sharps Copse Primary to the north, St Albans Primary to the west and Fairfield Infants to the south.

When the Council announced its new constitution in January, it predicted that it would “make the operation of the council more agile, cost effective and able to respond to the needs of the community.” The Constitution itself defines a role of “Cabinet Member with Portfolio Responsibility for Traffic Management”, but the fact that no Councillor is named in that role in this current Cabinet demonstrates the lack of priority given by HBC to the impact of traffic.

This is not the first time that ‘Consultee Traffic Team’ has failed to recognise that Havant has a problem with traffic. In fact, we’ve seen this exact same response on previous occasions, word for word, right down to the email address which still returns mail as invalid. These consultee responses are sloppy, but they’re not the fault of ‘KRC’, who probably works out of East Hants District Council with objectives that cover little more than parking and closing a few roads for Remembrance Day. Without any clear Cabinet oversight of the job, the ‘Traffic Management Team’ – if they actually exist – clearly flounders.

[return to contents]

So what’s the problem?

Understanding why Havant town has a traffic problem isn’t rocket science. The problem stems from the growth of the town around the fixed railway infrastructure that once formed the town’s transport hub.

The migration of freight from the rail network to the road network over the past sixty years has resulted in the construction of a brand new strategic road transport hub, out of town to the south west at Broadmarsh. New employment areas have been built alongside the A27 and the A3(M), enabling rapid connection between the employment areas and the trunk roads, with minimal impact on the town traffic.

In the 1872 map, below, the railway network is clear, with Havant Station in the top right hand corner. The second image, from Google Earth, overlays the new trunk road infrastructure.

As the area to the north of the railway becomes increasingly residential and personal car ownership continues to increase, the bottlenecks formed by the five railway crossing points present challenges for journeys outbound to, and inbound from, the A27 and the A3(M). With no high volume traffic route between the A3(M) at Horndean and the A27 at Southleigh, the former New Lane industrial estate is now landlocked by residential development and starved of efficient access to the national road network.

[return to contents]

The ‘railway crossing’ bottlenecks

Park Road North road bridgeConstraints: Uninterrupted by train movements – Single lane vehicle approach, two lane exit

In brief: This crossing is heavily congested at peak times, weekends and holidays due to downstream congestion at Langstone Roundabout, Elm Road junction and Solent Road junction. There is increasing congestion associated with home delivery and ‘drive thru’ traffic generated by the four main fast food outlets sited on Park Road South.
Bartons Road road bridge Constraints: Uninterrupted by train movements – Single lane each way

In brief: The bridge of choice for ‘the back road to Chichester’, heavily used at peak times by traffic avoiding the congestion at the A27 Chichester bypass rounadabouts. The nature of the traffic flow over this bridge will change considerably once the Southleigh A27 Link is built since that will provide the quickest uninterrupted route to an A27 junction for a large area of Havant. Furthermore, if ‘traffic generating’ businesses continue to be tolerated or are allowed to grow at the New Lane employment area, then this crossing will become the route of choice for access to the A3(M) via the Comley Hill, Whichers Gate, Horndean rat-run and to the A27 via Southleigh.
New Lane level crossingConstraints: Closed for all trains on the London line and Brighton line

In brief: Frequent traffic tailbacks across New Lane/Eastern Road junction to the north, and across the Fairfield Road/Waterloo Road junction to the south.
Southleigh Road level crossingConstraints: Closed for all trains on the Brighton line

In brief: Frequent tailbacks blocking access to residential properties and Warblington School.
With the New Lane / Eastern Road / Elmleigh Road rat run closed , this crossing may now be favoured by LGV traffic heading to A27 E/W at Warblington.
Bedhampton level crossingConstraints: Closed for all trains on the London line and Brighton line

In brief: Extended closure at times due to the short platform when long westbound trains stop at Bedhampton Station. Peak time local hold ups for commuter traffic to and from Southmoor Lane / Harts Farm Lane. These peak time problems will not be helped by the long term development plans for the Portsmouth Water estate bounded by West Street, Brockhampton Road and Solent Road, information about which is murky at best.

And further east?

Travel on eastward towards Bosham on the A259 and what do you see? All the way from Emsworth, through Southbourne and Nutbourne, a ribbon development of new housing crammed in south of the railway to help Chichester District Council meet its own housing targets. Constrained by the level crossings at Southbourne, Nutborne and Bosham, much of that new population will be driving to and from the nearest available A259/A27 junction, at Warblington.

Once the Southleigh A27 link (Option 1B) is open, just how well will the Warblington A27 interchange cope? (Answers, on a postcard please, to trafficteam@havant.gov.uk.)

[return to contents]

New Lane – Looking to the future

Sixty years ago, New Lane led Havant’s growth with the likes of Kenwood, Goodmans, Colt, Scalextrix and Britax. The quality and reliability of the West Leigh workforce with their famous ‘We’re backing Britain’ campaign encouraged IBM, Plessey, BAe and Siemens to invest in the Borough. As a regenerated employment area providing sustainable jobs within easy reach of the town centre bus and rail hubs, New Lane should have a great future.

Those famous manufacturing brands that were once synonymous with the New Lane estate have mostly moved offshore, with only Kenwood retaining office, shop and warehouse space on the site. Given its increasingly urban context, the site is now far better suited to businesses with sustainable day-time working and commuting patterns, ideally providing the local residential community with the higher skilled employment opportunities promised by Havant’s Regeneration Strategy. Eatons, Kenwood and Dunham Bush are all long established ‘good neighbours’ and with the opening of the corporate headquarters of Anetic Aid and more recently the new UK site for Sartorius, the potential for the right sort of growth is clear.

Businesses that generate traffic movements in excess of normal daily commuting should be actively discouraged and ‘managed out’ by Havant Borough Council, while office-based employment, technology based manufacturing and the type of high value, secure storage opportunities associated with the Solent Freeport should be encouraged. The Spring Business Park under construction on the former Butterick site, with Qvis CCTV and Security a convenient neighbour, could be readily adapted to support Havant’s Freeport opportunity,

A coherent strategy for the management of Havant’s traffic is the key to unlocking the potential of New Lane while at the same time reducing the peak time traffic which chokes the town’s road network. While the real authority on highways and traffic lies with Hampshire County Council’s Highways Authority, much closer liaison between the Borough and County council is required if we are to keep control of our streets and keep the traffic moving. The role of “Cabinet Member with Portfolio Responsibility for Traffic Management” should be recognised for its importance and should be filled with an appointee with vision.

[return to contents]

Postscript for HBC Council Members

The decision on this application is critical to the future of Havant. The wrong decision will simply exacerbate the existing traffic problems, will endanger the safety of residents and their children, and will deny the New Lane employment area the opportunity for the type of regeneration that will secure its future growth. The right employment profile will bring the business opportunities that lift educational standards across the Borough, just as the high tech businesses which followed New Lane’s first wave in the 1960s did.

A great many hours have been spent drilling into the documentation which accompanies application APP/21/00200, in order to arrive at an adequate level of understanding. For those elected representatives in decision making roles, the following paragraph from the Planning Code of Conduct is particularly relevant:

Do come to your decision only after due consideration of all of the information reasonably required upon which to base a decision. If you feel there is insufficient time to digest new information or that there is simply insufficient information before you, request that further information. If necessary, defer or refuse.”

The Transport Statement provided by the applicant is ‘topped and tailed’ with a soft, marketing spin that should not be taken at face value. The language in the ‘Summary and Conclusions’ is loose and the data within the document contains many inconsistencies and selective omissions. It is presented, as might be expected, in a manner supportive of the Applicant’s case so I would urge you to study this in depth.

An exhaustive critique of the document set would be a dry read indeed, so please just consider these two examples from the tables in the main document. This should give enough of a guide to the accuracy of its conclusions.

The first point to note in both of these tables is that the data shown covers a single one hour ‘peak’ in the morning, a one hour peak in the afternoon, and a total daily figure. The application is for ‘3 shift operation’ over a 24 hour day, 7 days a week, therefore the periods selected for these comparisons are not representative of the true impact of the business on the town’s environment.

Table 5.4 is used to demonstrate that, compared “to the previous maximum usage of the site the proposed development would generate less traffic both during peak hours and across the day”. That’s very convenient but also rather misleading since the ‘Previous Maximum’ numbers are theoretical, assuming the traffic that might be generated if the site were used to the maximum extent allowed under the planning permissions currently in place. This theoretical decrease of just 90 daily vehicle movements is referred to in the document as “significantly less vehicle movements”.

Table 5.4 is then used to demonstrate that the proposal would result in a decrease in both morning and afternoon peak hours of the existing site traffic, while only adding “an uplift of movements” to the overall daily total. This increase of 466 vehicle movements is referred to in the document as “slightly more traffic”. The residents of New Lane, who have lived with the operation of ‘the existing site’ for many years, question the veracity of the ‘existing site’ numbers quoted since they bear no resemblance to observed reality.

Not only are the authors of the Transport Statement creative in their use of English, but their basic mathematics is also equally loose. A nit, repeated too many times to be a typo, is their constant quoting of 2,415 vehicle daily movements. According to us, that’s slightly at odds with the source numbers for the proposed use provided in Appendix F, ‘Occupier Traffic Data’. That data source is a simple table that predicts actual movements arriving and departing from the site over a 24 hours period, based on the intended occupier’s existing sites across Europe (listed in appendix H).

We can safely assume that this data source represents just the HGV and LGV movements since there is no evidence in the data for the three shift staff commuting patterns the intended occupant proposes. Staff arriving for, and leaving at a midnight shift changeover will not be using public transport.

We looked at the occupier data and drew up a rather different picture:

The blue data is taken directly from Appendix F and shown for each hour of the day. The grey data includes the additional movements of the van drivers, arriving in their own cars in the morning to pick up a van and leaving at the end of their shift having dropped their van back in the vehicle storage unit. The yellow data assumes that there are 208 staff on site at any one time in the 24 hour day, with three shifts changing over at midnight, 08:00 and 16:00. Since the employee numbers, while clearly available to the applicant, are withheld in the paperwork, we’ve made a reasonable assumption that the 208 parking spaces allocated in the design are used by the warehouse work force. We know from elsewhere in the document that the van drivers will be parking their personal vehicles on the ‘van storage decks’.

In summary, the Transport Statement supplied in support of the application is at best, creatively misleading.

To view an earlier post containing a further selection of misleading ‘facts’, please take this link.

Please read deeply and consider the much wider implications of this application. The right decision will open the opportunities for regeneration that the town needs. The wrong decision will be remembered for a generation.

[return to contents]

Take the links from this page to find their email addresses.

If anything here strikes a chord, write to your local Councillors.

#rethinkhavant

32 New Lane – The full story on traffic and jobs?

Updated – 03-4-2021:
Read the main story here
Read our media comment here
Read our ‘Fact check’ post here

Consultation on this plan officially closes on Tuesday but comments can still be made online after that date. If you feel strongly about this, please do make your views known. Full details are given in the ‘Main story’ post, see the link above.

So far, neither the applicant – Havant Property Investment LLP, better known as Kingsbridge Estates with Bridges Fund Management – nor their Agent – Luken Beck – has come clean about the name of the ‘intended occupant’ they’re proposing to install at the former Pfizer Cold Chain Warehouse site.

Nor have they come clean about the real impact of traffic generated by the site, submitting a Transport Assessment (aka Transport Statement) which is riddled with inconsistencies and misses significant detail which would clearly be inconvenient to them.

We were recently encouraged to find that Hampshire County Council Highways share some of our misgivings but we’re not yet convinced that HCCH fully understand the nature of Havant’s rat run traffic issues.

Nor has the applicant come clean about the number of proposed employees, having deliberately left section 18 of the Application Form blank. Of course it’s quite possible that they just don’t know how to fill the numbers in given the type of business proposed.

Maybe a change to the form would help here:

We took a deeper look at the likely number and quality of the employment opportunities that a site of that nature and scale would generate. Only after doing this could we predict the real impact of the traffic with any degree of accuracy.

There will be jobs, for sure. Not all current employees of the unnamed company will be consolidated on this site. But let’s just think for a moment about the quality of those jobs. Half of them will likely be self-employed drivers on target-driven pay, with deductions for rental of the vans they’re using, while most of the remainder will be low paid, low skilled warehouse opportunities working in three shifts, round the clock, seven days a week. If you’ve forgotten that Scottish Daily Record undercover report on Amazon’s Last Mile hub in Lanarkshire, it’s worth reading again. Click the link.

Having taken a look at the quality of those jobs, let’s first look at the scale of the traffic. Previously, we were considering ‘just’ the HGV and LGV movements from the site, totalling near 2,500 vehicle movements per day. As if that wasn’t bad enough given the dreadful state of Havant’s traffic in normal times, you can now multiply that figure by 220% to get the real figures once you add in the impact of staff and driver commuting.

Operations in the warehouse will be running 24 hours a day, on a three shift basis, with a midnight shift changeover which would potentially generate another 400+ traffic movements through the local residential streets between 11:30pm and 01:00am.

Let’s have a look at the traffic movements in and out of the site:

With almost 800 vehicle movements at the site in the peak morning hour, it’s no wonder that they’re seeking planning permission for a new, third exit onto New Lane.

We’ll be able to confirm those figures once the Applicant completes the missing details and we can be certain that when they’ve figured out the best way to spin the ’employment’ data, the number will be sold as the headline grabber. At the end of the day, however, the real headline grabbing number is this one:

Vehicle movements

each day.

All of them using the well known rat-runs.

The real losers?

While the whole town loses out here because of the traffic impact, it’s the young and the unemployed who actually stand to lose the most. This is hardly ‘levelling up’ the local economy to use a fashionably meaningless term.

When the full Havant Borough Council Council signed off the Regeneration Strategy on November 7th, 2018, they committed to the following actions on ‘Skill levels’ and ‘Earnings’:

To work in partnership with business to boost employment within higher value roles – managerial, technical and professional occupations to increase local spending power.

To work in partnership with business to drive up the skill profile of the resident workforce to take advantage of higher value roles created within the Borough.

To increase wage levels of Havant residents by driving up the resident skills profile and creating higher value job opportunities in key sectors

We expect Havant Borough Council to make the right decisions for the future of the town and its kids. Please don’t let them down. Above all, don’t throw away a site that is perfect for the kind of employment that would satisfy those actions.

This application should be welcomed, but only if appropriately sited south of the A27 or alongside the A3(M), sites which would also be in the best commercial interests of the unnamed ‘intended occupant’.

You can turn this into a win-win, don’t ruin the real opportunity you have with New Lane.


#rethinkhavant

Portsmouth Water – Lack of ‘Master Plan’ transparency

If you’re a resident of West Street, of Brockhampton Road or if you’re simply one of the 20,000 patients of the Bosmere Medical Practice, you should take a keen interest in the designs that Portsmouth Water have on the land they own between West Street and Solent Road.

© Historic England – Britain from Above

It is no surprise that the Hong Kong registered owners of ‘Portsmouth Water’ wish to capitalise on the value of the land that they own on the Havant site for the benefit of their shareholders. The emerging Local Plan shows a housing allocation (H17) for 135 housing units on the site of current office buildings in West Street and a Development Consultation Forum (DCF) held in November 2019 showed a proposal for a new Headquarters building and industrial units to the south west of the site.

That DCF raised serious concerns about the traffic impact on both the operation of the medical centre and on existing Solent Road traffic which is already often gridlocked at precisely the times of day that the NHS contract states the surgery must have its hours.

No planning application has yet been raised for either of these developments and no further Development Consultation Forum has been scheduled. Instead, planning applications are being drip fed in a piecemeal fashion without regard to the overall overall context in which they should be assessed. The granting of one application in isolation will clearly alter the context in which the subsequent applications will be assessed, potentially disadvantaging local communities.

In October, Portsmouth Water raised an Application for ‘Tree Works’ at the southern boundary of the existing office site, a thinly disguised project to clear trees in preparation for future development. Local objections were ignored and the application was passed through a delegated decision.

Portsmouth Water have now raised a further application for the creation of a new site road access from Brockhampton Road, ‘to improve access to the yard, following demolition of existing buildings within the Conservation Area’.

The proposed design of this new site access road appears suitable for HGV use, but whether this is simply for Portsmouth Water or to service the proposed new industrial units is unclear.

Either way, the local residents, together with the staff and patients of the Bosmere Medical Centre, deserve a clear answer.

In order to finance this development and maximise value for their shareholders, Portsmouth Water will clearly have a master plan showing how each of these ‘future projects’ integrate within an overall programme of work. We would expect the next application to be raised to be the development of the industrial units first shown at the 2019 DCF. This project will then contribute funding to the next site project, the development of the new HQ buildings. Once the HQ building is complete and occupied, the application for the demolition of the current West Street offices and the construction of the houses will appear. Havant Borough Council must already have sight of this plan given that their primary focus will be on ‘ticking off’ another 135 housing units.

However, each time that we ask for sight of this masterplan, all we receive is a stony silence. It isn’t a particularly tough question to answer, HBC already know the answer, they’re just hoping that by chipping away at these projects piecemeal, we’ll end up just accepting the additional impact of the increased traffic from the complete set of projects.

Of course, HBC may already have done the modelling of the traffic flows and found that there’s no issue here. But if that’s the case, then why don’t they come clean and answer the question?!

There will obviously be additional traffic in West Street and Brockhampton Road from 135 new homes, but that’s to be expected. What we’re pretty certain they won’t have modelled is the impact of the traffic servicing three industrial units and the new Portsmouth Water headquarters building, all routed through the existing dedicated entrance of the busiest medical centre in the town!

The Brockhampton and West Street residents and the 20,000 patients of the Bosmere Medical Centre, all of whom pay the Council Tax that funds the planning service, deserve some transparency here.

#rethinkhavant

Consultation on changes to the pre-submission local plan is available for comment until December 17

The following video provides a useful (?) introduction to what is required of you here:

Click the image to open the document.

Since the consultation on the Pre-Submission Plan at the beginning of 2019, Havant Borough Council have made a number of changes to the Plan which are now subject to public consultation. The consultation will mean that a consolidated plan can then be submitted for the independent inspector to consider.

This consultation is focused on the changes, particularly those more significant ones which are marked up with an arrow and reference number within the consultation version of the plan.

To read the details on the council’s website, including the links to the documentation and guidance on how to submit responses, please take this link.

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 20 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 20 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…..)

Havant’s ‘Healthy Borough’ or Fortitudo’s ‘Healthy Profit’?

We’ve been looking a little harder at the old Southern Electric site on the corner of Petersfield Road and Bartons Road.

Poole based developer Fortitudo Properties, have their sights set on building another McDonalds and another Costa Coffee on what really ought to be a northern gateway to Havant Town Centre.

It seems that even before they applied for planning permission for the container stack on the site, they had already agreed a new 25 year lease with McDonalds at a rental of £105,000 per year. With Costa, they’d already agreed a 15 year lease at £78,000 a year. At the same time, they’ve offered both companies a 6 month rent free period as an incentive.

It looks like they’ll also be offering the buyers of the flats £500 towards their legal fees and a £1,000 John Lewis or IKEA voucher.

If you’re wondering where this comes from, it’s buried in the ‘Viability Assessment‘ accompanying the planning application, the best bits of which you can read here)

Now given that there are already two McDonalds within healthy walking distance, 38 minutes to Larchwood Road and 26 minutes to West Street according to Google, we hope that HBC will take note of what they themselves have written in their own Healthy Borough Assessment. (We’ve been here before, haven’t we?)

The maths is simple, in just over five years, Fortitudo will have recouped their costs on both fast food outlets and will be turning in a healthy profit to take back to Sandbanks at the cost of the health of Havant Borough residents.

Fortitudo wouldn’t have got away with it in Poole so we don’t expect Havant Borough Council to roll over on this one.

As that regeneration banner on Park Road South says – “Have Pride in Havant”.

If you want to make a comment on this planning application, please click this link and complete the online form. Comments must be received at the council by Friday October 30th.

If you would like to support Havant Civic Society, please click here.

#rethinkhavant

Southern Water – ‘Performance Status Red- significantly below target’

On Friday October 2nd, the Environment Agency published their long awaited ‘Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) results 2019 for water and sewerage companies’ document and the results don’t make for happy reading for Solent area residents.

Click on the chart if you want to zoom in on the detail of why Southern Water have just been revealed as the poorest performing water company in the country.

The full Environmental Performance Assessment for 2019 is available here.

September Digest – A ‘perfect storm’ warning?

[Originally written as an email update to members]

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the website, you’ll be aware of the staggering amount of change happening around us.  If you haven’t, then please take the time to follow the links in this email to read more detail.  While the primary focus of the Civic Society is on the centre of the town around St Faith’s, we cannot ignore the wider context of the borough and the length of this email simply reflects the fact that there is an awful lot going on.

The current pandemic has changed the way we work, shop, meet, communicate and use public transport and some of that change may well be permanent. Nobody can sensibly predict the impact that this dramatic change in circumstance will have on the profile of Havant’s residential and business communities. Central and local government are not making life any easier either, threatening a ‘perfect storm’ of change, much of it firmly rooted in pre-Covid, now obsolete, thinking.

The house building target of 504 homes per year from the ‘Havant Borough Local Plan to 2037’ was torpedoed in August by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government white paper on ‘Planning for the Future’. The updated ‘housing need’ algorithm jacked up the Havant number by an astonishing 91% to 937 homes per year. CPRE has been leading the charge against this unprecedented escalation of housing targets in the south, and bowing to pressure from the residents’ groups which make up the Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance, Havant Borough Council has finally seen the light, executing a handbrake turn and pushing back against the white paper just hours before the consultation deadline yesterday.

Meanwhile, European legislation on ‘nitrogen neutral’ development triggered a moratorium on new development approvals in the region this year. This EU directive provided protection for the environmental and ecological health of the Solent which is in serious decline due to the levels of agricultural and wastewater sourced nitrate laden pollutants flowing into it.  For a housing plan to be approved, a developer must prove no net increase in the pollution entering the Solent from their site.

Desperate to clear the planning and development log-jam and meet the increasingly unrealistic house building targets, HBC and other Solent area local authorities jumped on the ‘re-wilding’ bandwagon stitched together by Natural England and the Wildlife Trust.  Touted as a ‘win-win’ solution for the charity, the developers and the local authorities alike, the reality is that it is based on a convenient and selective interpretation of science with the main losers being the residents and the wildlife. Warblington Farm will evolve into a wildlife sanctuary over time as HBC calls off areas of the agricultural land to ‘re-wild’ and generate nitrate credits to sell on to the likes of Persimmon Homes. The government’s proposed online ‘nitrate trading’ auction platform will surely only accelerate this process.

In the midst of all this, HBC are charging headlong into an ever closer union with East Hants District Council. The executive and senior management layers of the two authorities merged a while ago, but we are concerned that the recent decision to move to a single combined workforce will have an adverse impact on the morale of the staff and the quality of the services delivered to you. With the council’s call centre sited in Coventry and services managed from Petersfield, the future doesn’t look too bright for us.

The depression at the centre of this perfect storm is deepening while political eyes are off the climate change ball.  Predictable change in the integrity of the coastal margins should be ringing warning bells against increased housing development in some southern parts of the borough anyway. With central and local government budgets stretched, the cost of local coastal defence strategies may not always remain justifiable.

With so much change – and we’ve not even mentioned Brexit – we believe HBC should stop and take stock of the pre-Covid foundations underpinning previously published ‘strategies’ before this all ends in tears.

Please take the time to read and digest the website links in this email.  As HBC adopts their new ‘Digital’ strategy with the emphasis on remote online communication, we will endeavour to keep you up to date through our website, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the occasional email.

If you didn’t receive this recently as an email, then you’re not on our mailing list! To fix that, simply take this link and join us.

#rethinkhavant

HBC Warblington Press Release – Greenwash at its worst!

An excellent letter from from Ann Buckley, co-ordinator of the Havant Borough Residents Alliance, to the Portsmouth News in response to the recent HBC press release .

“I write in response your recent article “Trailblazing move to help housebuilding’.

My first reaction to this was, if Havant Borough Council had listened a decade ago and acted upon a motion put to the council on housebuilding and pollution in the harbours it would have been trailblazing, but they did not take action. The borough would not have ended up in the situation when most of the building industry locally has been on hold for more than a year because of nitrate pollution in Langstone and Chichester harbours.

Havant Borough Residents Alliance (HBRA) brings together residents’ associations and conservation groups from across the borough and has carefully scrutinised the progress of the Local Plan to 2037 over the past four years.

The council’s press release for the launch of the Warblington Farm Mitigation Site which is part of the Local Plan, seems to HBRA to be misleading and inaccurate. The press release states that the council has purchased the farm. This is not correct. The council has owned the farm for decades and has simply changed or regeared the farmer’s lease.

In your article, a quote from the environment minister Rebecca Pow gives the impression that Havant is about to get a nature reserve a ‘green open space for them to enjoy’. In reality the current scheme is for a third of the council-owned farmland to be taken out of agricultural production and then looked after by the farmer without public access. HBRA was told by the council there would not be a nature reserve for at least a decade.

The council’s cartoon that accompanied the press release shows a cow with a suitcase. This seems to indicate the dairy herd will go and as you say in your News article ‘reduce cow waste’. This is not the case, the herd and the much-valued Warblington Castle Farm Dairy, which delivers milk in reusable glass bottles locally, will continue. The council also gives the impression that the land is intensively farmed but that is not true either and the farm already has a rich coastal ecology with hedgerows,wild flowers and wetland habitat for birds and other creatures.

HBRA is also concerned the well-respected Chichester Harbour Conservancy and the Langstone Harbour Board have not been included in discussions about the Warblington coastal mitigation site.

The whole process leading up to Havant Borough Council’s decision on the Warblington site was lacking in transparency with residents excluded from meetings and some reports. Even towards the end of the process residents were told there would be a planning application for ‘change of use’ from a farm to a nature reserve, where details could be scrutinised, but that also was not true and has now been dropped!

It seems likely there will be no nature reserve for now but plenty of housebuilding in the Havant borough is again possible. Perhaps those new developments should include signposts for the displaced wildlife to their new off-site habitat at Warblington Farm.

Greenwash at its worst!

Ann Buckley
Co-ordinator HBRA

Online public meetings

Over the past few months, many of us have become accustomed to holding meetings online using the various technologies available and it seems a common view that these meetings have been surprisingly productive.

If nothing else, this morning’s HCS Committee Zoom meeting served to reinforce our lack of diversity! (Expect to hear more of this in due course.)

One particular benefit noted is that these online meetings encourage active participation from a wider cross section of the community than might have been served by traditional on-site meetings. As such, we welcome last week’s HBC Cabinet meeting discussion on the use of online technology for forthcoming public meetings. So much so that we’ve written to HBC offering to help them with their testing of the technology with a public audience. Their stated plan to have ‘Cabinet and other public meetings’ opened online to the public by the mid-October is fairly aggressive, but is to be welcomed.