Regeneration Strategy Approved! No surprise there then

The ‘Opportunity Havant‘ Regeneration Strategy Document first surfaced in public at the Cabinet Meeting on October 24th.  Just two weeks later, it was presented to the full Council this evening and after being proposed by Cllr Pike, questioned by three deputations from the public, seconded by Cllr Wilson and ‘debated’ by the full council, was approved unanimously.

Havant’s much vaunted Regeneration Programme has hit the road running!  Or so you might be led to think…

This is the town where bundles of tumbleweed and old McDonald’s boxes have rolled slowly past the faded hoardings at 44-54 West Street for more than a decade. The town where nothing happens. Don’t build your hopes up, despite all the trumpeting about ‘a new interventionist approach’ and ‘using compulsory purchase powers to bring forward schemes, making the required budget available’, it looks like the tumbleweed will be here to stay for at least another five years.

What we saw this evening was certainly not a debate in any accepted sense of the word.

debate
From the editor’s ‘Concise Oxford’, bought at a real bookshop in 1970, at a time when ‘selfie’ would never have been accepted as a noun.

Not once were any of the points raised from the lectern by HCS and the other representatives of the public speaking,  questioned or debated.

1) The Regeneration Programme documentation must be freely available to the press and the public. We see no justification for the exemption of entire documents; redaction of detail where necessary should suffice.

2) The Governance approach is lacking. We expect to see local communities of residents represented at the External Stakeholder level along with the professional communities who provide for our health, education and safety.

3) Phase 1 – i.e the next five years – must deliver tangible benefit in each of the regeneration areas in order to achieve buy in from the community. As published and approved, the only change delivered in that time frame will be on the Civic Plaza site.

Cllr Buckley could have triggered some real debate when he remarked that the most important word in the document was ‘interventionist‘ (it hadn’t been lost on us either).  In his opinion, the new approach would provide a means of empowering the council to do great things, providing the issues of Governance could be understood and grasped.

A deafening silence ensued.

One of our own ward councillors broke her meeting silence only once, raising the important question of whether or not the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office could be worn if his driver wasn’t present.  Our other ward councillor agreed to investigate and respond.

Bless ’em.

#rethinkhavant

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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. 

‘That’ Regeneration Strategy document

OpHavantLast week proved to be an interesting one and this week promises to be no less so.

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.

INTRODUCTION

“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

Economic Development

“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.”

Housing Challenges

“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.

Economic Challenges

“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.”

The Opportunities

“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.

THE STRATEGY

“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.”

Regeneration Programme

“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…”

Prioritisation

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”

The Vision

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…

Approach

Picking out a few key word and phrases:

“Interventionist “
“flexible policies that adapt to our rapidly changing society”
“Integrate regeneration into the Corporate Strategy for whole council focus”
“Borrow to Invest”
“Pump priming”
“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).

Funding

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.”

Delivery

“We’ve already engaged the architects of Berewood to produce some impressive CGI visualisations of what this might look like.”

Resources

“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.Regeneration Programme Governance - 1

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.

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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. 

 

 

 

Commercial Property Update – October 2018

From time to time, we like to keep our eye on the local commercial properties with invisible ‘For Sale’ signs outside. Here are three which might catch your eye.

Tesco Car Park, north western cornertescoThis one almost seems to have a Pizza Hut shape to it when we remember that their previous restaurant on the Solent Road site was prematurely demolished to provide the site for M&S and Next. Or perhaps a rather more viable Dominos drive-through delivery and collection location!

The current post office site is up for sale.  A snip at just short of £60,000, but how does this fit in with the regeneration strategy we might wonder?  Our post office has been somewhat nomadic for the last few years, let’s hope that it’s not going to move again before long. (At least one of our elderly blind residents took a long time to get used to its last change of location…)

Wyevale Garden Centre. Rather more pricey than the post office at a cool £7 million, but since it’s allocated in the Draft Local Plan 2036 for housing, a ‘change of use’ would be easy to come by. Let’s hope they get the bus service and school places sorted out first.

#rethinkhavant

_____________________________________________________________________________

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.