Byron Melton’s report on last night’s Council Meeting can be found
in today’s Portsmouth News by taking this link.
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.
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’]
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.
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 link. Comments 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.
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.
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.
An application has been submitted this week, by Persimmon Homes, for part of this area, which is proposed for housing in the Draft Local Plan 2036. Yet another application coming in ahead of the plan being adopted and approved.
Details can be found by using this link:
On October 24th, Havant Borough Council’s Cabinet approved the publication of ‘Opportunity Havant’ – A Regeneration Strategy for Havant Borough, 2018 – 2036′. For much of last week, local residents groups were meeting in huddles, active with blue pens and brimming with ‘constructive criticism’ of the work.
If you’ve not already done so, it’s worth reading the document. If you click on the link above it will open in a new browser window so you can review it alongside these notes.
Here’s our ‘boiled down’ précis of the content, section by section. “Text in quotation marks and coloured thus” is taken directly from the document, occasionally underlined by us for emphasis. “Text in quotation marks in this colour” has been paraphrased by us, the rest is our editorial comment.
“This strategy sets out the economic case and opportunities for regeneration in Havant Borough. It highlights the key areas where direct targeted intervention will have the greatest impact and states what the Council will do over the next eighteen years to deliver regeneration – including governance, funding and resourcing.
The Delivery Plan then sets out the actions (including approvals, funding and project planning) that will be required to facilitate the delivery of phase 1 from 2018 to 2024.”
The document structure is confusing, so in the absence of heading numbers we’re grouping the rest of the document as indented below:
THE CASE FOR REGENERATION
“Havant Borough sits in a prosperous part of the South East of England with an affluent population/catchment and a high demand for housing. [but due to a variety of factors there has been]… a prolonged lack of investment in renewal in the Borough.”
“To break this cycle councils are beginning to realise that they will need to take a more interventionist approach. By directly driving and investing in regeneration projects councils have been able to halt or reverse decline and create conditions more attractive for private sector investment. The new political leadership at Havant Borough Council has signalled a clear ambition to drive forward the regeneration of the borough and have recognised that this will need to be adequately resourced.“
“Havant Borough Council has recognised and progressed the need for an active interventionist approach to regeneration.”
“To meet the housing challenges, the economic base of the borough is a key focus to sustain the wealth to take the area into the future.”
In other words, we’ve got to drive inward investment, push local wages up and stimulate the premium housing market while at the same time providing affordable homes for 1,800 people on the housing list.
“Havant workers are lower paid, have lower skills and a lower value of role than the average for the South East. More people commute out of the borough to work than commute into the borough to work.”
“Havant Borough has a wealth of strategically and regionally important natural and economic assets that make it a prime location for investment”
A statement of the obvious which simply begs the question ‘why have we not exploited it yet?’
Key Issues & Objectives
An interesting section which, to our mind, is full of questionable ‘issues’, for example on the ‘reduction of Town Centre Retail vs Portsmouth’. Given the overall success of Solent Road and the recent cautious growth of innovative small businesses in the ‘old’ town centre, we think the authors are not in touch with current trends on Havant’s retail frontage.
“There are five key regeneration areas in the borough:
1) Havant Town Centre (including the Civic Campus)
2) Havant Strategic Employment Sites (Brockhampton West, Langstone Technology Park & Dunsbury Park)
3) Hayling Island Seafront (West Beach, Beachlands, Eastoke, Southwood Road, Ferry Point & improved access)
4) Leigh Park Centre
5) Waterlooville Town Centre
There is a need to improve access to the focal areas on Hayling Island. This will drive visitor numbers and increase viability of attractions.”
“A schedule of projects has been developed in the five key development areas. This list makes up the Regeneration Programme. This programme is a separate, dynamic document setting out the details of individual projects including some which are commercially sensitive. The delivery of the projects on the Regeneration Programme will be progressed in a way that is focussed on the objectives of this strategy…”
PHASE 1 (2018 – 2024) Quick wins, sites entirely in HBC ownership & opportunities for income generation
PHASE 2 (2024 – 2030) More complex longer term projects
PHASE 3 (2030 – 2036) Aspirational projects that are more challenging, or where market conditions are less favourable”
Pages 12 and 13 of the document contain the visionary statements which have had many of the local groups most exercised. There are six of them, one for each of the five key regeneration areas listed above. Wait…. six? Yes, the sixth relates to the ‘Civic Plaza Area’, conveniently listed earlier with ‘Havant Town Centre’. The reason for this appears simple, in the first five years of the Regeneration Programme, the only site where action might be visible will be somewhere on the car park of the Civic Plaza, where we might expect to see 100 new houses.
We won’t see any change in our parts of the borough before 2025.
By all means read the text in those blue boxes, but do please have the salt nearby…
Picking out a few key word and phrases:
“flexible policies that adapt to our rapidly changing society”
“Integrate regeneration into the Corporate Strategy for whole council focus”
“Borrow to Invest”
“Where necessary the Council will utilise its Compulsory Purchase Powers to bring forward schemes and will make the required budget available. This will give greater certainty over delivery of the Regeneration Programme.”
We do like that last one (it’s on Page 14).
And here it is again (repeated verbatim on Page 15) as if to reinforce the fact that they’re obviously serious about it.
“Where necessary the Council will utilise its Compulsory Purchase Powers to bring forward schemes and will make the required budget available . This will give greater certainty over delivery of the Regeneration Programme.”
“We’ve already engaged the architects of Berewood to produce some impressive CGI visualisations of what this might look like.”
“Havant Borough Council is not a commercial developer and as such does not have the breadth of skills and depth of resource required to carry forward such an ambitious regeneration programme.”
In other words, we’re going to have a ‘resourcing challenge’.
Governance & Management
A dull heading perhaps but activities critical to the delivery of such a complex programme of work. Summarised in a few bullets and a ‘Governance Structure’ chart.
You might wonder why the ‘External Stakeholders’ box is so large and so vacant. If you do, read our response to the document.
Appendix A – Economic Evidence Base
A few tables giving the evidence behind the suggestion in the document that “Havant workers are lower paid, have lower skills and a lower value of role than the average for the South East.”
That’s it, in a nutshell. Our response will follow shortly.
If the content you find here is of interest to you and if you share our desire to make an active and positive contribution to the regeneration of Havant, please consider joining us. The outlay is small but the potential impact our combined voice can have is significant. Please take this link to view the various membership options available, including a simple online form.
We’re quietly celebrating the fact that tonight’s Development Management Committee meeting listened, questioned, debated the detail and came to the only sensible conclusion regarding the application by Geo & R Carrell Properties Ltd to re-open the old HSBC bank building as a pizza takeaway.
The planning consultant involved seemed clearly out of touch with the local area and the needs of its residents. He also seemed surprisingly out of touch with some of the detail, for example the current operating hours of the intended tenant, Domino’s, at their existing site in North Street. But that’s just a small detail and we should make it absolutely clear that we have no issue at all with Domino’s at their current site.
The Development Management Committee clearly agreed, overturning the recommendation of the Planning Officer and voting on an amended proposal to reject the application by six votes to one, the solitary supporter being the Chairman of the Committee who expressed the need to support his beleaguered troops.
Havant Civic Society split our five minute slot, objecting to the application on two fronts. The first part, delivered by our chairman, can be viewed by taking this link. The second part was delivered as a personal statement by one of our committee members who lives in West Street, just a stone’s throw from the site of the application.
The ‘obvious’ objection that it was for ‘another fast food outlet’ carries no weight at these meetings, so the core of our objections were ‘the lack of parking at the site’ and ‘the unacceptable impact on Park Road South traffic’.
Tim Pike, as the St. Faith’s ward Councillor who at our request had pushed for the application to be heard in Committee, gave a spirited address which clearly reflected the many letters of objection he had personally received.
In the end, all six council members on the committee voted to reject the application, motivated to a significant degree by their recent visit to a site which was so clearly and unquestionably unsuited to the applicant’s purpose.
A good result all round, particularly for Domino’s who we assume can now remain at their North Street site with its unrestricted opening hours and virtually unrestricted late night parking. To the landowner and their planning consultant we say, look for a more intelligent regeneration option for the site. Apply some lateral thinking and we’ll be the first to support you.
There are, however, a few questions worth asking:
1) How did the developer ever think that they could operate a pizza takeaway in this bizarre location? Surely a ‘dark kitchen’ site in an accommodating local car park would have been more obvious?
2) How did the Traffic Management team miss the very obvious issue of the traffic impact on Park Road South? (Perhaps we’re starting to understand why that issue goes unaddressed. In fact it’s interesting that the members of the Development Management Committee didn’t latch on to it either. Perhaps, being from out of town, they rarely drive through Park Road South?)
3) How come HBC still fail to appreciate the logical boundary of the Town Centre? The shops and new retail businesses surrounding the old HSBC bank, Sherwood Florist, Kuru, Next Floor, Havant Music Mart, and Inspire surely deserve recognition as part of the “primary frontage” of the town centre?
Or are they just content with an arbitrary delineation of the town centre boundary? (We’re only just getting started on this point since we have, of course, the same concern about the dropping of East Street from the ‘town centre’. This is a subject we shall return to)
4) And perhaps most importantly: How come this obviously flawed planning application was originally defined as suitable for a delegated decision? Had it not been for Havant Civic Society jumping up and down and the subsequent support of St Faith’s Councillor Tim Pike in getting this application red-carded for review by tonight’s development committee, this application might well just have gone through ‘on the nod’.
It doesn’t really bear thinking about, but here at HCS we’ll ask the questions for you anyway!
“I am writing on behalf of Havant Civic Society, to register our reservations about this application.
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]