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Promised Infrastructure Review

Both the Save Our Island group and HIRA are pleased that both Havant Borough Council (HBC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) are meeting with us and a few other Hayling Islanders in order to discuss ‘the way forward’ regarding Hayling Island’s Infrastructure Review. We are puzzled by at least 2 members of Langstone Residents Association being invited and can only conclude that the A3023 road is the reason. As many readers will know, HIRA Committee members have, like Save Our Island’s David Parham, pushed hard for this Infrastructure Review not only to take place but, more importantly, to listen to and involve those on the Island who have detailed knowledge of the problems.

At the time of writing HBC and HCC have yet to supply the information we repeatedly requested - and we know they must have - regarding current ‘constraints’ on Hayling development. Prior to the proposed building we all need to be assured that our Drainage, Utilities, Sea Defence and Roads can sustain us and of course increased housing, schools and medical facilities. There are conflicting reports: for example, whilst 2 utility companies such as Southern and Portsmouth Water know that they must provide all necessary infrastructure, local householders, plumbers and employees experience ongoing problems even now. Despite months of renovating road and ground work in some parts of Hayling, serious problems are recurring. Water pressure is reportedly highly variable in some parts and has still not been resolved. David Parham is waiting for Southern Water’s detailed responses to his Freedom of Information questions regarding the ongoing drainage problems at Selsmore Road and Mengham Lane.

Some people express the view that Islanders have a choice: either the Island remains a sleepy backwater or it becomes a built up suburb of what has been proposed as a ‘Solent City’ extending to Southampton. Realistically many also realize that if it is possible to build extensively on Hayling, there will be no choice: house-building is viewed by mainstream politicians as a vote winner because it provides a grateful electorate and a source of instant employment. However, there is also an argument that house-building normally follows employment; thus Portsmouth’s island status evolved over centuries from a major fighting base to a shipping terminal, but the house-building serviced it.

Where is Hayling’s employment? The current price of major developers’ houses surely far exceeds those employed by Hayling’s leisure industry. Working from home is attractive but even then people need to leave their homes in connection with work so the road network is vital, whether for bikes or cars. Similarly we will need an increase in buses for those needing to leave the Island who cannot afford a car.

The intriguing question is how politicians – and the public – can reconcile Hayling’s current attraction as a green and pleasant holiday destination with great watersports facilities and winding leafy lanes, with a likely 1400 increase in home units and their corresponding traffic and daily family needs. Shop keepers would welcome more customers but already reduction in car parking and buyers’ preference for online shopping might not help that. How can we encourage our Hayling farmers to keep the fields, the produce that keeps us buying locally and for some, the reason for living on Hayling?

Our next free Public Meeting Speakers are RNLI Southern Region’s Brian Masters and Hayling’s Graham Raines on Thursday February 16th 7:30 – 10:00 pm at the RNLI Hall, Bracklesham Road near HI Sailing Club. Find out about RNLI’s national and local history and events. Refreshments afterwards.

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