Did You Know...?
This was read aloud before Alan Mak spoke last night, so that the over 200 residents would know exactly why every level of Government, and its Agencies, demonstrate real ignorance about Hayling's unique status.
In response to HIRA’s request, we learned that there have been over 778 individual responses to Havant BC’s Housing Plan 2036 of which the computer software found 209 relate to development on Hayling and as of Sept 23 there were another 90 to analyse. I believe that ‘individual’ includes Residents’ Associations that represent many individual responses to those Associations.
Now I know that Alan Mak, as our Member of Parliament, will be most anxious to hear the concerns of his Hayling Island constituents so of course we have a Q & A session to follow his speech, but many of our residents want us to convey at least some key concerns for him to consider most especially in the light of the draft Housing Plan made public in August 2016. For this reason we also have Havant BC’s Head of Planning, Andrew Biltcliffe. Whilst this Plan may appear to originate from Havant Borough Council, our research of the documents that are driving it reveal the following:
Havant’s Local Plan results from national documents: chief amongst these being the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with its Ministerial Foreword, which feed into the PUSH or the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire which comprises: the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, the Isle of Wight, Hampshire County Council and the 8 district authorities [of Eastleigh, East Hampshire, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, New Forest, Test Valley and Winchester].
From our studies, it is clear that the Local Plan is driven by questionable economic growth & housing need forecasts. Particularly given the Plan’s very large increase predicted in only an additional 10 years extension: 2026-2036.
What are the Implications for Hayling Island, from the Documents?
Housing Allocations: the primary national documents preceding the Local Plan (NPPF & PUSH) refer to requirement for ‘affordable’ homes: what proportion of Hayling’s current homes being built (over 200) & proposed 550 houses will be built for Housing Associations for example or be at a price for the Council’s own figures showing that Havant Borough wide average earnings are half that needed to buy an affordable property in the Borough. Recent trends in Havant show job losses while minimum pay, low skill jobs (the lowest in Hampshire) are growing, making affordability a cornerstone local housing issue. Incidentally the Government’s current 1st time buyer mortgage offer isn’t necessarily for the lower earner.
Access to Employment: Where will the proposed 550 householders – with joint income earners? – work on Hayling? 46 years ago educators were all told to educate youngsters for a life of part time work & leisure – that hasn’t happened for the majority as forecast. We cannot rely on new householders being able to work from home. Any increase in commuting to the mainland impacts on our single road access A3023 which is a common factor through all of Hayling’s issues.
Hayling, according to national policy, has to ‘take its share’ in cases where, for examples, neighbouring authorities Portsmouth or Gosport can’t build new housing. But how can a commuter from Hayling be confident that there will be nothing to block the single A3023 road accessing the mainland: one recent blockage alone caused a 3 hour delay for traffic leaving and arriving on Hayling.
Still on the A3023 issue: Havant BC has no power to improve the A3023 & indeed where would it be practicable to widen it in view of ever increasing use? Demolish housing, communities in Langstone and Hayling? We all know that, Havant BC informed HIRA on 12/2/1985 31 years ago, that the A3023 was taking two & a half times its intended traffic and since then there has been no material effort to improve it. We know that in August 2016 alone individual days reached saturation flows for hours at a time. Recently our Committee members were told by Hampshire CC Highways that the A3023 is no different from nor worse than the A32 and A27. Did you know that the A3023 is officially an S2 road, of the lowest permitted class? But the A3023 is literally Hayling’s lifeline. We have grave misgivings about such an Authority’s quite inadequate grasp of our roads.
Despite Havant BC’s promise at the Goldring Inquiry in 2013 to make a thorough infrastructure study of Hayling, this has not happened and we believe that consequently the Council has not done what the National Documents require it to do before presenting a Local Housing Plan. Let me briefly explain:
Repeatedly the national policy documents state that they are intended to inform policy and plan making by local authorities and not to be regarded as a substitute for it. The Objectively Assessed Need for housing clearly states that the Strategic Housing Market Assessment which Authorities are using, does not set targets nor determine the mix of homes for each authority. That is Havant Council’s (& any other Council’s) role & we are not seeing any evidence for simply applying the PUSH targets which are an aspirational demand rather than a realistic & identified need. In fact the Draft Local Plan was published a mere 3 months after completion of the national documents: this cannot comply with the ‘careful assessment & adequate time’ demanded?
The National Policy cites the need to protect and enhance the natural, built, historic environment as well as improve biodiversity, etc. providing a ‘higher social and environmental standard’ to improve the lives of people & communities (page 2 point 7). As our historic Billy Trail falls into the sea because the Environment Agency does not deem it important enough to protect, our elected representatives might begin to ask questions such as: why are we allowing the sea to eventually make inroads into the adjoining field – that may in fact be built on – & which runs alongside our lifeline the A3023? Why is this Trail not being properly protected & upgraded in order to provide practical for example green cycling alternatives to the A road? The NPPF 2012 sec 75 refers to the importance of national networks: the Trail has been on the national maps historically, also providing a really important element to our tourist economy – worth how much to our region’s economy? sec 35 Priority to pedestrian and cycle movements: create safe & secure layouts minimizing conflict between traffic & cyclists & pedestrians…” Promote healthy communities, public space quality… sec 74 not building on existing open space: contrast this with proposed development on Hayling’s privately owned agricultural grade fields. Why has no green belt been designated on Hayling?
What we ask our Member of Parliament to understand is that, whilst we have no designated greenfield sites despite having Grade 1 & 2 Agricultural Land that is irreplaceable, nationally developers have succeeded in overturning 72% of Local Councils’ initial refusals in attempts to protect their greenfield sites. Many of us might not understand that because this irreplaceable resource is in private hands, its multi function as mitigating coastal erosion when properly protected and providing locally produced essential food and strategic countryside gaps (Sec 5.75 PUSH Spatial Statement) is most definitely under threat of permanent loss. The developers’ successful Appeals against local Council decisions, undermine local democracy, undermining our planning system.
We want the Government to amend the NPPF paragraphs 14,49 for example so that there is not an automatic presumption in favour of granting planning permission, so that meeting housing demand does not have greater weight than environmental and social sustainability in plan making.
Two more key concerns in brief: Medical Provision: Hayling has the highest proportion in SE Hants of the elderly & chronically ill residents and serious concerns have been raised by our medical people in reaching mainland A&E purely because of the traffic through the Island not to mention the A3023 itself. Our joint Medical Practices made clear to us that they are currently working to capacity but the proposed 550 houses will present a challenge and they would need additional building that they are not in a position to fund. We’ve been in contact with SE Hampshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group who, on the other hand has no awareness that this could be a problem.
Finally Flood Risk: National Policy requires this be mitigated plus provide Environmental protection but this is what our North Hayling HIRA residents say: old field ditches get silted up and the tide flaps are no longer maintained by the Environment Agency; a field at Hayling’s northern end was created in the 1950s by filling in the Mill creek so that now the main drainage of storm water from the middle of the island goes through this field & into the harbour, so 6 hours twice daily the water goes into the field, often backing up into many properties off the A3023 even flooding that main road. We also understand that one private resident whom we know of has had to pay for expensive underpinning of their home – by 12 inches – to stop the effects of such occasional flooding. Furthermore local residents in north Hayling have provided proof of repeated drainage problems when stopping a proposed development – of another privately owned field. Furthermore we are not convinced that providing small fenced soakawas will be sufficient new homes drainage.
These are just some of the many serious issues brought to our attention over the past year. The key point for us at this juncture is that there are undeniable gaps in understanding of Hayling’s problems at all tiers of government and their agencies. Hayling wants to contribute to the region’s and nation’s economy in its own small way; but its very qualities that promote Leisure Tourism especially Watersports will be hugely, adversely affected by any increase in the strain on our infrastructure especially our roads, natural resources, and all our services.
The formal AGM was concluded at this point but first the following question was asked of Alan Mak, MP, and it was repeatedly asked at the end of the meeting:
HIRA is a member of the recently formed Havant Borough Residents' Alliance which has representation from almost all the Residents' Associations in the Borough as well as environmental groups.
A similar group which is concerned about the level of development in their Local Plan has formed in Eastleigh Borough called '' Eastleigh Against Destructive Development'' and has gained support from their local MP Mims Davis, as well as MPs for surrounding areas; Steve Brine MP for Winchester and George Hollingberry MP for Meon Valley (who also represents the Northern part of Havant) They are all named on the web site.
Could we count on your support in the same way?
Alan Mak said that he did not know exactly what was required of him as he knew nothing of the Eastleigh website. He was asked to state his support for his Hayling constituents in their concerns about the adverse impact of the proposed Local Plan on the Island as well as its residents. Alan repeated that he needed to consult the Eastleigh website. Anne Skennerton, as Chair, suggested that he might also find it useful to discuss the issue with the 3 Conservative MPs named who are openly supporting their residents in opposition to the Draft Local Plan.