Spot the difference! The Domino’s challenge.

Here’s a little something for the weekend. Are you ready to take the Domino’s challenge? Well if you are, here’s a little ‘Spot the difference’ test:

Do you remember the planning application for the Domino’s Pizza Takeaway at 39 West Street? Well, to be more correct, both planning applications for 39 West Street? Turned down unanimously last October, then curiously passed when it was resubmitted in January?

Well the application, and subsequent approval, was for a ‘Hot Food Takeaway – Use class A5. Why is this significant? Well A5 covers ‘hot food take-away’ only. To be used as an eat in establishment, which Domino’s at 39 West Street is morphing into, they’d need to have another change of use to A3.

In support of their application, they submitted a plan for… well… a takeaway. Just take a look at the detail on that plan, below, and note the position of the ‘oven’ and the ‘preparation area’.

Then next time you’re walking past, take a look at what they actually built!

We’re delighted to see that the enforcement team are on the case and we’ll keep you posted on their progress.

Is there a future for the original IBM Havant site buildings?

Back in January, we reported on a move to list the former IBM Havant Plant buildings at what is now the Langstone Technology Park. If such a move is to bear fruit, it can’t come soon enough. Havant Borough Council’s Development Consultation Forum #48 will consider the future of this site on Tuesday 21st May at 6:00pm and the author of this piece plans to be there..

An early image of the Havant Plant, taken from the north western boundary.

The first Havant IBM manufacturing building in Solent Road has long since disappeared, demolished to make way for Havant’s first ‘out of town’ Tesco store. The building which replaced it was the long, elegant structure shown above, designed by Arup Associates and winner of the prestigious Financial Times Award for Industrial Architecture in 1972.

The IBM Information Services Ltd. building constructed on the same site, linked to the plant building by a glazed corridor and reception area, was an integral part of Arup’s design. Known internally as the Respond building, an IBM acronym that escapes me now, the building resembled a record deck with a concrete rendered lower part concealing a computer centre and a dark glazed upper part containing offices.

Sadly, the visual impact of the two original buildings in the context of the green field in which they stood has been greatly reduced by the development of the large car park at the eastern end. The original architecture contained a small car park for visitors and executives at the steps up to the main entrance in the glass link between the buildings.

The main car park was just to the south of the manufacturing plant and also included a number of temporary buildings which provided the home for two groups of systems and application programmers, one looking after the IBM manufacturing information systems, the other developing the systems which ran IBM’s World Trade business operations. To the south of those temporary buildings, past the original car park, the remainder of the land down to the shore remained undeveloped, save for playing fields and the IBM staff club on Southmoor Lane.

This shot shows the site after the second phase of development, but still before the rest of the Southmoor area had been ‘developed’. The two original buildings are the Respond building at the left of this group of four, with the IBM Plant building in the foreground. The first, sensitive extension of the plant building can also clearly be seen at the right hand, western, end. The two buildings in the background of the group are Arup’s second, later bite of the cherry. This shot shows the small visitors’ car park at the main entrance and the glass walkway between the two original buildings can still be seen.

In 1977, the new IBM UK Headquarters offices opened at North Harbour, with staff relocating from the Havant temporary buildings, the original London headquarters building in Chiswick and the single storey glazed temporary building in Northern Road, Cosham.

The Havant temporary buildings were bulldozed to make way for the second phase of the Langstone site development. The old London HQ site still exists, renamed Chiswick Tower and now home to the British Standards Institute, while the young Norman Foster’s ‘temporary’ glass building at Northern Road, Cosham, was eventually awarded Grade 2 listing and has for some years been occupied by HMRC as ‘Lynx House’.

Going back to the two original buildings at Langstone, it’s worth understanding how important this site was, both to IBM and to Havant. At the time of their construction in the early 1970s, Havant was already home to a number of global manufacturing brands, Kenwood, Colt, Lewmar and Goodmans being four other significant global brands. Minimodels, the manufacturer of Scalextric was moving out of its Leigh Park site but the Havant area was still a hotbed of technical development and manufacturing with a proven quality workforce. The existence of these brands in Havant were influential in IBM’s decision to build such an important manufacturing and development site on the Langstone site.

A little background is probably appropriate…

By the early 1970s, the IBM world was divided into two parts of roughly equal business size, IBM US and IBM World Trade, the main company product line being the IBM 370 series family of mainframe computers. Now dwarfed by the technology in our homes and pockets, these huge machines were the state-of-the-art computers of their day and were used to run the business of many of the Fortune 500 companies.

An IBM 370 series installation, including the Central Processing Unit at the back, tape drives on the left, removable disk drives on the right and printers in the foreground. The Havant Plant building and the Respond building each typically contained around four of these water cooled behemoths at any one time in secure air conditioned machine rooms, running IBM World Trade’s operational and manufacturing business.

The US arm of the IBM corporation produced all of the component parts of these systems for the North American market in a number of plants across the United States, each plant concentrating on a specific component.

For the World Trade division however, the manufacturing plants were spread around the world with the new Havant plant site building the Central Processing Units (CPUs). Other plants, notably in Sweden, Germany, France and Italy, but also in Japan, Mexico and Argentina produced peripheral components all of which were brought into the Havant Plant building for ‘systems integration’ before final shipment of the complete, tested system to the customer site.

In the 1970s, that long flat building was divided into three parts. At one end was the machine room, housing the computers that managed the manufacturing process while at the other end was a clean room where semiconductor chips were developed and manufactured. The bulk of the floor space in between was taken up by the manufacturing space for the ‘big blue boxes’, the CPUs. Hanging from the ceiling above each of the half dozen or so being constructed at any one time was a board with the name of the customer for whom that system was being built.

To those of us who witnessed this manufacturing operation ‘from the inside’, it was an impressive spectacle, a demonstration of the power and reach of the IBM corporation as a once genuinely global business.

So should the site be protected by listing?

The original buildings date from a time when Havant peaked as a globally acknowledged centre of high tech manufacturing industry. It could also be said that the time also marked the point at which IBM’s dominance of the global computer systems market peaked.

By the 1990’s, the IBM Havant plant was reduced to the development and manufacture of computer disk drives. In 1993, with UK manufacturing costs being too high, the IBM Corporation let the Havant plant go to a management buyout and the site became the home of Xyratex.

As soon as they were contractually free to do so, IBM opened a new low cost disk plant in Hungary in direct competition with Xyratex. The ethical principles espoused by Thomas Watson for IBM had been diluted and devalued by the 1990s. The creaking IBM printer business was similarly sold off in a leveraged buyout, forming the Lexmark company. Once again, when contractual constraints were lifted, IBM re-launched its own printer division using low cost manufacturing.

I’ve not seen inside the Havant Plant building since the late ’70s but feel sure that the overall architecture of the space must still be sound. As a large exhibition hall with superb transport links, it might be preserved by a far sighted owner.

But then the progressive vandalism of the last forty years of insensitive planning and development might just have rendered it beyond recovery…

I might also argue that IBM actually started the rot here by selling off its own global property portfolio in order to keep balancing the books. The relentless increase in performance of computer hardware predicted by Moores Law , coupled with the commoditisation of the computer hardware business, necessitated desperate action to keep the stockholders happy.

In the sixties and seventies, the IBM UK property portfolio displayed some of the finest architecture of the day, the Langstone site just one example. Nowadays, there’s only one site in the UK still owned by IBM, and that’s Hursley. The reason? IBM UK never owned it, it’s the property of the US company. Even that other Norman Foster building on the South Bank is now owned by Alan Sugar.

(I should point out that the rambling views in this post are personal observations by the editor and are not necessarily the views of the HCS Committee. Bob C. )

Civic Plaza ‘Car Park Redevelopment’ project

‘Car Park redevelopment’ may be something of a misnomer and it’s worth reading the document that was presented at the Havant Borough Council Cabinet meeting on March 20th.

In this document, you will find further explanation of the project proposal and the timescales. The timescales appear to be driven by conditions on the component of funding from Homes England. While that £3.5 million is being touted as ‘significant’, it is a drop in the ocean in the context of the full project costs. Take the link to this document and you will find an explanation of the ownership of the various sites shown in the chart below.

The fact that HBC own or can easily acquire these sites is the reason why they’re intent on this being Phase 1 of their Regeneration Programme.

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

Moves to list former IBM Havant plant buildings

IBM  PLANT LANGSTONE, HAVANT The IBM Havant Plant, at Langstone, was cleverly designed to blend into its surroundings and  situated close to the newly-opened A27 (1965). Set back down a long drive and west of Bosmere Field, it was built on a grass mound, which housed various facilities.

The Plant was designed by Arup Associates and in 1972 it won the prestigious Financial Times Award for Industrial Architecture. The original office complex, including a systems assembly plant and computer centre, was completed in 1971. It was subsequently added to in the late 1970s, also by Arup Associates.

1972 ARUP TO THE FORE IN FT AWARDS                                                                    (Source: VADS Online Resource for the Visual Arts)              

‘The name of Arup looms large in the Financial Times Awards for Industrial Architecture 1972, recently announced. The winning building, IBM’s new plant at Havant, Hampshire, was designed by Arup Associates, as was one of the five commended buildings, the Oxford Mail and Times building. The parent practice, Ove Arup and Partners, acted as consultant engineers to a second commended building, Bernat Klein’s design studio in Galashiels, designed by Peter Womersley.’

Arup Associates was a major presence on the British architectural scene for more than half a century, emerged from the famous engineering consultancy founded by Ove Arup in 1946 and reflected  Arup’s  own vision of ‘total design’, formed in the 1930s in his ground-breaking collaborations with Berthold Lubetkin. With architects, engineers and other professionals working in groups, it offered a uniquely interdisciplinary approach to the design of buildings.

The former IBM Plant is an important part of Havant’s heritage and should  be  added  to the Havant Borough  List of Buildings of Local Interest.

Supporting Information and Images.
 ‘Arup Associates’ is now known as global Arup Architecture.  https://www.arup.com/expertise/services/buildings/architecture

Historic England website.https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/arup-associates/

IMAGES (Havant)       https://www.architecture.com/image-library/ribapix.html?PageIndex=11&keywords=arup

Twentieth Century Society  on Derek Sugden 

‘Sugden’s thorough experience of steelwork broadened the practice’s expertise, and he came to specialise in factories. As well as working as construction engineers, the firm was designing increasing numbers of its own buildings, and in 1963 it formed an independent multi-disciplinary practice, Arup Associates, with Sugden as one of the four founding partners. The New Museums site at Cambridge and work for IBM at Havant and Portsmouth were among his most important works.’

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’]

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.

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.

 

H16| Land east of Castle Avenue.

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:

APP/18/01033|Land East of Castle Avenue.