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

Southleigh Park – Bargate Homes ‘Application for tree works’

In previous years, Havant Civic Society confined its interest to matters pertaining to the immediate town centre. As might be evident from some of our recent posts, we now place equal weight to matters affecting the surrounding area and this post represents one such example. It also shows, for a welcome change, a good example of the Development Management Committee ‘thinking on its feet’ when chaired well, something which doesn’t often happen in our experience!

Bargate Homes are not the residents’ favourite developer at the moment so we attended last night’s Development Management Committee meeting with more than a little interest. The fact that the HCS website editor has a keen interest in both trees and bats added further incentive. The main subject of last night’s two and a quarter hour meeting was Bargate Homes application to fell a large number of mature trees, many protected by tree preservation orders, in the grounds of Southleigh Park to clear the way for another seventy houses. This is not an easy case to sort out given the previous permissions granted, and it made for compelling viewing* listening.

Let’s start with a little history of this site which has, at least for the last half century, been hidden away behind secure fencing. Motorists coming into Havant along Emsworth Common Road will be familiar with the sight of the boarded up Southleigh Lodge facing them as they contemplate the dog-leg turn into Bartons Road, but they will probably be unaware of the rest of the estate hidden within the trees.

Southleigh Park features the remains of an early 19th-century gentleman’s estate, the house still standing overlooking the former park. For more detail regarding its history, take this link to the ‘Parks and Gardens’ website**.

In 1968, Southleigh Park was bought and redeveloped as the headquarters site for the Plessey electronics company and after the demise of Plessey, more recently the headquarters of Snell and Wilcox. Plessey built the large glass and concrete office complex behind the house and that block is all that can be seen from the outside, looking through the entrance gateway on Eastleigh Road. We would be delighted if the office block came down to make way for sympathetic and appropriate development to take place on this site, providing that it is within the context of the historic park landscape.

When Snell and Wilcox was bought out by a US company, control of the estate passed to the trustees of their pension fund. In August 2017, the pension fund trustees then engaged Terence O’Rorke Ltd as their agent to submit a planning application for the complete development of the site. (As the residents of Lower Road, Bedhampton will be aware, ToR have a close working relationship with Bargate homes.)

The Southleigh Park site had already been allocated for housing in the Draft Local Plan with, we believe, an original allocation of up to 35 units. The August 2017 planning application for the site presented an outline for 20 units within the historic buildings and a further 70 to be built on the former office block and around the parkland.

In January 2019, this planning application came up before the Development Management Committee. That meeting, on January 24th, was not their finest moment as we had cause to report at the time regarding another matter. When the agenda turned to the Southleigh Park application, despite the fact that the Draft Local Plan had not yet been – and to this day has still not been – adopted, planning permission was granted. The 18 page decision letter can be seen here. Of the many conditions applied to the permission, number 27 is particularly pertinent to last night’s deliberations.

It is worth taking the time now to understand what is meant by a ‘Reserved Matters’ application; this one page explanation will help. Also, take note of the key clause, ‘unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority’. On the face of it, Condition 27 states that no trees can be felled, until such a reserved matters application has been approved.

Now for a few well known facts. Planning policies have loopholes, Local Authorities have weaknesses, and Developers employ expensive lawyers to back up their threats to appeal.

The planning application being reviewed at last night’s meeting was not the planning application for the development – that was passed in January 2019. The new application under review was submitted in August 2020 as an ‘application for tree works’. Had this latest application for tree works been passed last night, then the key clause of Condition 27 on the permission granted to the earlier outline planning application would have been satisfied. (Just think about it for a while…)

The application for tree works itself might look pretty innocuous to the uninitiated, but fortunately, Havant Borough Council’s Arboricultural Manager, Jamie Gargett, was on the case.

Click the link below to hear Jamie’s introduction to the proceedings which set a clear tone for the evening.

The first deputation made to the meeting was by Nik Knight, Hampshire’s Bat Recorder and a leading authority on the subject. (Some HCS members may remember an evening walk down the Billy Track from the Gazebo Garden with Nik last year.)

Nik’s deputation can be heard next and sets the first important environmental context for the debate. Do listen!

The next deputation on the agenda papers was given by Malinda Griffin of Havant Borough Tree Wardens.

A further deputation was made by Thomas Griffin, rounding out the defence case for the trees with a few more pointers to the National Planning Policy Framework and Historic England. Cllrs Lloyd, Patrick and Pike then made further deputations against the application. Councillor Patrick’s deputation is included here given that it expanded on the written deputation originally submitted and makes some powerful points.

As Cllr Patrick says, “This is probably one of the most prestigious sites that the borough has and would have made a wonderful country hotel and conference centre while at the same time providing hundreds of jobs for our local economy”.

The case for such a venue is strong. In the evolving post-Covid, post Brexit world, working and commuting habits will have changed permanently for many residents and businesses. Many decisions made prior to March 2020 will have become invalidated and there should be no valid objection to calling them back in for review.

Let’s face it, the entire Local Plan probably needs a complete rethink.

Bargate Home’s Head of Planning, Paul Thomas, then gave the sole deputation in support of his own application.

All other deputations can be heard by taking the link to the full meeting at the end of this post.

To get a feel for the rather emotionally charged nature of the debate, well handled with due clarity and balance by Cllr Satchwell, it’s well worth listening to the last 25 minutes of the proceedings. It’s not often that you hear participants referred to by their first names in these meetings, but ‘Clare’, ‘Jamie’ and ‘Steve’ all gave highly creditable performances.

(If you’re short of time, just skip to the 21’40” mark for the motion and the voting.)

In summary, this was public scrutiny working for once, a decent debate based on strong arguments, well chaired and consequently taking real notice of the public deputations. The right decision was made, despite Julia Mansi’s sometimes irritating contributions.

To view the entire meeting on the HBC website, please take this link and press ‘Join the event’. Pour yourself a drink first and find a comfortable seat, it’s an enjoyable, feature length episode.

Footnotes:

* In all two and a quarter hours of this meeting broadcast, not a single face was to be seen. Havant Borough Council’s broadcasting of meetings invariably has most participants hiding behind PowerPoint slides which makes for extremely dull viewing. By contrast, watch these proceedings from earlier in the week from their EHDC twin. Plenty to see there! (Surely HBC’s Councillors and Officers have nothing to hide?!)

** With a nod to HIGNFY, we note that Southleigh Park also figures in ‘this week’s guest website’, Redwood World.

To join us and add weight to our voice or simply to be added to our mailing list, please visit the HCS Membership Page.

#rethinkhavant

Lower Road Bedhampton – Bargate Homes raising the stakes

We see that Luken Beck, acting on behalf of Bargate Homes, have come back with a revised application for the land south of Lower Road, Bedhampton. This application, you may recall, was refused back in March this year. Having lodged an appeal to the planning inspector, Luken Beck have regrouped and reissued the proposal, accompanied by a supporting letter which displays much of the arrogance which so often gives their industry a bad name.

We quote from the letter in italics here:

“Further to the recent refusal of planning permission in respect of the above site and having regard to the principal reason for refusal regarding the impact upon the setting of the recently extended Bedhampton Conservation Area, Bargate Homes have revised their proposals to introduce much greater separation to Manor Farm Buildings which ensures that no harm arises to the significance of designated heritage assets. This is considered in detail in the accompanying Heritage Statement prepared by John Trehy of ToR.

The refusal of planning permission is currently the subject of a planning appeal to be determined by way of a Public Inquiry in February 2021 and this application is submitted on a without prejudice basis in the hope that need for the Inquiry can be avoided. As you will be aware such dialogue is encouraged and we hope you will conclude that the revised proposals are acceptable.

As previously, we are of the view that the proposals are entirely acceptable in the context of the site, its allocation within the emerging Local Plan and in the absence of a 5-Year Housing Land Supply within the Borough.

This resubmission, together with its thinly veiled threat, is backed up by a Heritage Statement from Terence O’Rourke, an ‘award winning planning, design and environmental agency’. It’s worth a read, if only to see just how much creative verbage such an agency can generate when charging by the word rather than by the hour.

The conclusions set out in this document contains the following wonderful paragraph, written in the kind of language that the Council will no doubt view as shaping their future.

“It is important to define ‘harm’ to demonstrate that the proposals do not lead to
any harmful impacts on the heritage resource. Harm is change for the worse, the
effect of inappropriate interventions on the heritage interest of a place that
reduces their values and recognised significance to society. Change, for example
visual change, is not in itself an impact on the significance of a heritage asset. An
impact will only occur if the change affects the contribution made by its setting to
its overall significance. Change to setting is only of concern in heritage terms if it
gives rise to harm to the significance of the asset, i.e. that the significance is in
part derived from the asset’s current setting. It should not be automatically
assumed that visual change constitutes an adverse impact or that more visual
change will be a greater impact.”

Change, for example visual change, is not in itself an impact on the significance of a heritage asset. An impact will only occur if the change affects the contribution made by its setting to its overall significance.

The ‘N’ word

The application is supported by this nitrogen calculation. Since this would be new development on former farmland, it’s a done deal, a theoretical net decrease in nitrate load. The fact that it will take decades to flush out the historic deposition of farming nitrates on this site is conveniently ignored by central government’s overly simplistic spreadsheet.

In the meantime, the new houses which will inevitably be built under this convenient excuse will be contributing yet more to the unacceptable storm discharges by Southern Water into Langstone Harbour every time it rains.

As we’ve said before, Havant Borough Council’s convenient solution to the nitrate neutrality issue will result in significantly more pollution into the Solent harbours before an eventual improvement in a few decades time. Simply re-wilding the fields south of Lower Road would be infinitely preferable.

To view the revised application, please take this link:

To comment on the application, please take this direct link before the deadline of Friday 11 December.

#rethinkhavant

5-7 East street, the missing piece in the jigsaw

The missing piece in the East Street development jigsaw seems to have been found under the sofa.

APP/20/00936 | Erection of 4 storey residential building comprising of 1 No one bed apartment and 7 No two bed apartments. | 5-7 East Street, Havant, PO9 1AA

To make a comment on this application, please see the link at the bottom of this page.

This recently submitted planning application is actually a re-hash of earlier plans for the site. What’s changed is that the plot is now under the control of the same developer as the other three applications currently out for consultation. The appearance of these four planning applications in the space of as many weeks leaves us cautiously optimistic that we could be on the verge of a positive improvement to the East Street scene. Certainly, these four developments could only really be developed ‘in one hit’ given the restricted access to construction traffic.

5-7 is the left hand building in this set of four. Out of shot to the left is the Havant Club, an existing four storey building and to its left, the former White Hart. Number 9 and the last behind number 11 (Streets) are the subject of our previous post.

It does appear from this current application that this latest version of the proposed frontage of 5-7 has been dumbed down slightly from previous incarnations of the drawing. We will be keeping a close eye on the detail treatment of all of the frontages to East Street developments to ensure that the character of the street scene is enhanced and maintained.

The internal layout comprises seven 2 bedroom flats and 1 single bedroom flat of relatively modest proportions.

No parking is available, just space for 15 cycles with 4 ‘visitor’ cycle racks. The four storeys are laid out as shown here, with the ground floor on the left and third floor on the right.

Seven two-bedroom flats with a single one-bedroom flat at the back on the ground floor. A ‘light well’ drops down through from the roof level to provide natural daylight to the seven otherwise internal second bedrooms. The ground floor two bed flat benefits (?!) from having access from its second bedroom to the tiny courtyard at the bottom of this light well. (Just how they manage to make that bedroom not appear like a prison cell remains to be seen. Doubtless an imaginative estate agent will come up with a suitable marketing message.)

Do you want to make a comment on this planning application?

To submit comments on this planning application, please take this link and enter them online. Remember, just before the box in which you enter your comments, there is an option to select whether you ‘Object’, ‘Support’ or are ‘Neutral’ to the application. Please make sure you check the option which reflects your view.

You have until Friday 27 November to submit your comments.

#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.

Portsmouth Water submit planning application for Havant Thicket

Portsmouth Water have now submitted their planning applications for the new reservoir at Havant Thicket, see the promotional video below:

Portsmouth Water promotional video

For further details, please refer to Portsmouth Water at this link.

Once the planning application is lodged and accepted by the council, we’ll update this website with the details for you to see and comment on.

‘Development Management’ through the looking glass.

Updated – 31-10-2020 – To add reference to the letter from Barratt

Last night’s Development Management Committee meeting was a good opportunity for our members and friends to embrace HBC’s new digital first mode of operation and watch the workings of local government. If you didn’t manage to watch it, don’t worry, you can catch it up here.

On the agenda was a contentious application to build 195 houses on land off Sinah Lane, Hayling Island.

As you can see, local opinion has been divided with just one responding ‘for’ and five hundred and forty four responding ‘against’.

Let’s first listen to the Chairman’s opening remarks by clicking the video extract, below. Pay particular attention to the bit at the end when she says:

“If at any point a member loses their connection, I shall adjourn the meeting for a short period to allow them to reconnect. As a reminder, if a member is not present for the whole duration of the item, they are precluded from voting

If you choose not to watch anything else, just skip to the bottom and spare the time for the last clip.

A little later on, it seems increasingly obvious that some of the members were having difficulty keeping up with the proceedings. (You might want to draw your own conclusions about whether they were all ‘present for the whole duration’.)

Have a listen to this next video extract. We say listen, because the council still haven’t fully embraced their new digital first approach to public engagement and started to use their cameras.

After that rather chaotic interlude, we come to the real stars of the show, the deputees who clearly show the way by fully embracing the new digital first engagement approach.

There then follows ‘the debate’. Now we’ve commented on the council’s interpretation of the word ‘debate’ before, so rather than repeat ourselves, you might as well watch listen to it yourselves here:

Given the divided public opinion, you might forgive yourselves for having guessed that the result might go against the public’s opinion, but you still might like to question whether the Chairman’s opening remarks had been followed to the letter?

Addendum

The elephant in the room here of course is the letter from Barratt with its documentation of their side of the story. The fear of central government that haunts this current crop of Councillors shouldn’t really be a surprise to those who put them there.

A tale of three councillors

If you watch nothing else, watch this next clip and listen to the commendable intervention by Cllr Lloyd as the Chairman is pressing for the vote. The Chairman’s initial response speaks volumes too.

If you want to listen to the whole debate, unedited, you could wait until the council publish it on their website. Alternatively, you could ‘binge watch’ it here:

Episode 1
Episode 2

#rethinkhavant #digitalfirst

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

The very thin end of a very large Portsmouth Water wedge

[Updated, 15/10/2020]

We have a soft spot for trees. We also have a soft spot for green spaces. We also understand that Havant’s tree canopy is, at best, poor by national standards. In a world where the value of trees and the importance of the tree canopy to the overall health of the community is increasingly understood and valued, it’s worth checking out the seemingly innocuous planning applications for tree work.

Portsmouth Water currently have a planning application for proposed works to trees in a the Brockhampton conservation area. On closer reading, this one is undoubtedly a precursor to a series of planning applications for extensive redevelopment of the entire Portsmouth Water site, including the building of new industrial premises and a large tranche of 135 dwellings.

The current planning application details the works to be carried out on a number of trees around the Brockhampton Spring, behind the Portsmouth Water offices in West Street. The plan of works may be unreadable here, but if you click the image, the detailed plan will open and you can zoom in.

If you’ve not quite figured out where this is, it’s the area covered by the yellow rectangle on this image, with the Bosmere Medical Centre, M&S and Next at the bottom.

The detail of the work being proposed looks like straightforward maintenance of existing woodland:

Trees 2, 3 and 4 (all Ash)Crown lift all round to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Tree 10 (Wingnut) – Crown lift all round to provide 4.0m ground level clearance
Tree 11 (Willow) – Fell Dead trunk
Tree 18 (Lime) – Crown lift on the southern to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Trees 22 and 23 (Lime) – Crown lift on the southern to provide 3.0m ground level clearance
Tree 24 (Ash x2) – Fell to ground level
Trees 25 and 26 (Willow) – Dead trees – fell
Tree 27 (Ash) – Fell
Grp 1 (Elder and Hawthorn) coppice at ground level”

Now it might seem that Portsmouth Water appear to be taking the health of their trees seriously, but the reality is rather more sinister. When we first looked at this one, we were distracted by the trees and didn’t see the wood, so to speak. Having now been gently reprimanded by a reader, we’ve taken a deeper look and would encourage you to read the fine print in that planning application. To help you, we’ve cut it out and you can see it by clicking this image.

The references to fencing and the need to accommodate heavy machinery to remove a culvert suggest strongly that this is indeed the first real planning application to emerge since we reported on the Development Consultation Forum relating to the proposed new Portsmouth Water HQ site almost exactly a year ago.

Given the position of the site in the Brockhampton Conservation area, we look to Havant Borough Council to take a proactive role here, defining an extended arboricultural plan for the entire site, preserving and extending the natural cover provided by this valuable local asset as a pre-requisite to all future development activity in the conservation area.

There is a much bigger picture that really should be considered. The portfolio of changes proposed by Portsmouth Water is far reaching, including the building of a new HQ building and new industrial premises immediately to the north and west of the Bosmere Medical Centre, and the construction of up to 135 dwellings on the the remainder of the land formerly occupied by the current West Street headquarters buildings.

These development plans, for various demolition, construction and landscaping works, will be drip fed into the planning system by the landowner, each in isolation. Common sense dictates that an overall master-plan should be documented, consulted on and approved to fully assess the cumulative impact of these plans on residents, the Bosmere medical centre, the town centre traffic and the environment.

We will be making this point clear in our response and strongly objecting to this planning application until such time as a master plan for the site is available for public scrutiny. If you want to make your own comment on this application, please take this link and complete the comment form.

Comments must be submitted before Tuesday October 27th.

#rethinkhavant