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Full Council Housing Debate & Vote!

Hayling Island’s 3 Deputees – Anne Skennerton who spoke first, later followed by Anthony Walker then David Parham – spoke strongly against Council’s adoption of the Housing Plan Statement to 2036, requesting instead that it be sent back for a thorough infrastructure review that is long overdue. Five mainland residents and their Associations’ representatives made good arguments against the Borough Council ‘waving a white flag of surrender to developers looking to expand their land banks’, destroying irreplaceable wildlife corridors and urban ‘gaps’ because of Councillors’ ‘knee jerk reaction’ to the planning inspector’s decision on the 2016 Purbrook Appeal. Anthony Walker declared the Save Hayling Petition had collected 5500 and would resume, if necessary, in the New Year.

Deputees’ focus was on the Borough Council’s failure to have properly examined not only the current suitability of several key sites but the unintended consequences of their development. Whilst Hayling’s 2 sites have been, at least temporarily, removed from the Early Release Sites, the vital wildlife corridor of Emsworth Gap (Selangor Avenue) and Bedhampton’s ancient farm and wildlife land near Lower Road are still at risk. Councillors were warned that, as with Hayling’s increasingly congested A3023 and the threat to the Island’s emergency access, the 2 mainland sites’ proposed developments will directly lead to the wholly impractical use of their narrow roads – even as far as Rowlands Castle when the new traffic avoids the congested A27!

During the Council debate that followed the Deputations, even the Mayor feared increasingly poor air quality and inappropriate use of Havant’s rural roads owing to the increased volume in new housing traffic. Cllr. David Smith noted that Budd Farm is not coping now with sewage discharges, let alone if Bedhampton’s ’40 Acres’ is developed.

Cllr. Hart argued for an Amendment that the Statement be referred back for further consultation, asking “Where is the big money promised from Developers?”, stating that there’s no linkage between communities, we shouldn’t be dealing with a ‘site by site basis’. This Amendment was rejected:

For: 4 Against: approximately 19. Abstaining: 4 (included Cllrs. Andy Lenaghan and Clare Satchwell)

Cllr. Michael Wilson argued that change is needed at Parliamentary level, to prevent the ‘5 year housing supply’ requirement resulting in the current ‘developers’ charter’. Editor’s note: had the Government foreseen this or is it yet another law of unforeseen consequences? How many more mistakes is the taxpayer paying for in every sense of the word?

One potential positive emerged: the new Housing Cabinet member, Cllr Tim Pike, will have the term ‘innovation’ – which Alliance members had asked for – in his brief to focus on town centres’ development as brownfield sites, that we hope can be re-designed to create more of the required housing. He also noted that £21K is Havant’s average annual income, yet £42K p.a. is needed for a 1st time buyer. Here on Hayling we know that new homes are priced well beyond the reach of those on lower incomes and Anne Skennerton reminded Councillors that HBC Officers, on October 19th, asserted that they could NOT force developers either to build Affordable Homes or to improve existing failing infrastructure such as the Billy Trail.

In view of Hayling’s own Grade 2 most versatile agricultural land, it was stated that whilst 70% of the UK is agricultural, we produce only about 60% of our own food. Let’s not forget the lessons of WW2: we must be able to feed ourselves and local produce is environmentally of huge importance to everyone. Building on agricultural land is extremely short-sighted. It also fails to address both long term employment and sustainability issues.

Towards the end of the Debate, Cllr Hughes of Purbrook, verbally attacked Deputees and this is generally considered to be inappropriate conduct: whatever a Councillor may think of a Deputee, they should be respectful and he was not. An Alliance member will be making a complaint to the Mayor as Chair. Similarly complaint had to be made last month to Cllr Cheshire, Chair, and Cllr Guest following the Cabinet Meeting because of Cllr Guest’s rambling, political diatribe which was unchecked by the Chair at that Meeting.

Full Council Vote has been recorded. For the Adoption of the Housing Statement to 2036: 23 including Cllrs. Leah Turner and Michael Wilson. Against: 7 including Cllrs. John Perry, Andy Lenaghan, Clare Satchwell. Abstentions: 3. Cllr Joanne Thomas had given her Apologies.

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