November 16th’s HBC Cabinet Meeting result gives us only temporary reprieve for Hayling’s UE18 site and land north, west and south of Rook Farm, pending an infrastructure review. Alarmingly it would appear that the Council is confident that this review will support its original Plan. Worse still, Alan Mak MP, continues to distance himself from Hayling residents’ campaign to have the Island’s key environment and ecological features recognized. At his surgery November 18th he informed one of our members that he will not be involved in any way regarding the Local Plan and will not involve himself with the appeal to the Secretary of State either. The only thing he may get involved in is obtaining funds to support the infrastructure to enable the housing increase. His view is that the whole issue is for the HBC and bordering authorities to resolve. He has stated this consistently since our October Public Meeting.
He also intimated that the Infrastructure Review is nearing completion. How can such a complex task have been completed so quickly when the public was not made aware of it during the Draft Local Plan exhibitions in August? Despite this being a major issue throughout the Borough, we were not told that it had either been started or nearing completion. We are seriously concerned about HBC’s Planning Model and we need to know exactly what their criteria and reports on each element are if we are to be confident that this review addresses the public’s concerns.
Ironically, Wednesday’s Cabinet Meeting referred to the Draft Local Plan providing much needed Affordable Housing for our young people wanting to stay on Hayling. Fact: HBC Planning Officers clearly stated to a meeting with 6 of us representing HB Residents Alliance October 19th, that, whilst they have an Affordable Housing Policy re Housing, they cannot insist on it being enforced by Developers. Indeed, it appears to be standard practice for Developers to pay a Council a sum in lieu of providing such mixed private rental or Housing Association building for example. We have no idea what has been paid, thus far, to HBC for such avoidance nor do we know where that money has been spent. We do know that we have a lack of such Housing; looking at the current developers’ housing being built on the Island, how many could be afforded by our youngsters here – even allowing for the Government’s current Starter Home policy? Is Affordable Housing now a red herring to gain public approval?
It was also highly unsatisfactory that there was no scrutiny at the Cabinet Meeting of exactly how the dramatic increase in proposed housing will be sustainable by any reasonable definition of that word, even within the NPPF and PUSH documents that HBC relies on. Worse still, despite Deputees’ (outline of their arguments may be found on our website NEWS) explanation that building on land identified as providing ‘mitigation’ against flooding as well as providing essential feeding and roosting for coastal wildlife – without which these cannot survive - all Cabinet Councillors voted for the Draft Local Plan.
It is completely inadequate for decision makers to pay only lip-service to the importance of those coastal features that are responsible for drawing in the tourism that is vital to this region’s economy. Who will want to visit an Island that has lost its semi rural fields, is largely covered in housing, whose coastal birds therefore no longer visit, and whose increased traffic makes timely emergency A&E access a diminishing prospect?
Contact form: www.haylingresidentsassociation.co.uk or drop boxes: Terracotta Pot Shop, Morris Dibben, Library, HI Community Centre if without internet.