Editor's Note: photos not included.
Havant Borough Residents' Alliance Response to the draft Havant Borough Local Plan to 2036.
Thank you to the planning team who have put considerable time and effort into the very large task of producing this document and running the exhibitions across the Havant Borough.
Havant Borough Residents Alliance (HBRA) is a group comprising, Emswoth Residents’ Association, Langstone RA, Hayling Island RA, Warblington and Denvilles RA, West Bedhampton RA, Save Old Bedhampton, Friends of the Earth Havant and East Hants , CPRE Hampshire and Havant Civic Society. We have been able to share information, research and get an understanding of issues. Information sharing has been helpful as a development in one area will impact on the others surrounding it.
Each group have made their own submission on the draft Plan.
HBRA have met regularly initially each week and now monthly and we feel we have considerable expertise amongst our membership. When the Draft Housing Statement was published a number of HBRA members made deputations at the full council. We were disappointed how few of the councillors took any notes on these deputations prior to their debate and decision.
Social Housing: At that time we were concerned about the number of homes planned to 2036 and this number has now increased even further. That concern continues and that despite these numbers HBRA feels that the provision of social housing will not be adequate and that many local families will have to rely on the insecure private rented homes that will be developed on many of the sites. We are also concerned that the commuted sum which is calculated for the developer to contribute when providing social housing on site is not viable are far too low.
HBRA has pressed for the brown field sites to be developed ahead of the development of green fields and the use of compulsory purchase orders and we are pleased that the draft Plan proposes a more proactive approach including the use of compulsory purchase orders. Some buildings have stood empty for a decade in the town centre and now are a hazard to public safety. See the photo of Street’s in East Street. (not copied here, view on Council's submissions if available)
Homeless people feel that it is too dangerous to squat there.
Skills and deprivation: HBRA are very concerned that the Borough has the lowest application rate to University in the country and feel that this should be noted in the Plan and must be addressed if the area is to have the skilled workforce needed during the time of the plan.
Traffic and Transport: It is difficult to comment on transport infrastructure as the documents are not included. HBRA are concerned regarding traffic congestion and air quality across the Borough and particularly where there is poor air quality around schools such as Park Road South next to Bosmere School as this is likely to worsen with additional traffic movements in the Borough as new housing and employment sites are developed.
There is concern that the Havant Bus Station no longer functions well. The development of the Central Retail Park and the additional traffic lights that were needed together with increasing traffic generated by many new developments is causing long delays. As the plan runs to 2036 we feel that HCC should be looking at the possibility of relocation of this very busy bus station in a less congested area. There is no mention in the Plan of integrated transport at the Hayling Island Ferry.
The Havant Town Centre: Draft Local Plan. 3. Key sites. Pages 21-26
Havant Town with good transport links and close to the coast has enormous potential but has a poor reputation with people who visit the area because of the run down appearance of so many key locations.
Arriving by train the first image of the town is of the rusting rail foot bridge which is supported by scaffolding and the overgrown Grade 11 listed signal box. Travelling by bus the derelict area at the rear of West Street which is full of rubbish is in full view and gives a very poor impression of Havant Town Centre. Those arriving by car see the run down state of the most historic area in the Borough, East Street, and this compounds the impression of neglect. A similar street in Petersfield just up the A3 is well kept and thriving.
HBRA have met with the Civic Society, small local businesses, The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre and St Faiths Church and similar concerns to those set out below have emerged from all these local organisations.
Market Parade: Draft Plan, page 23
HBRA were disappointed that The Local Development Order on the Market Parade area did not progress. It was funded and advertised but the meeting was then cancelled and residents did not receive any further information. We would also like more clarity in the draft Plan on what is meant by ‘tall buildings’. There was considerable local opposition to the 13 storey building on that site but despite this the planning application was given approval although there were many planning grounds on which it could have been rejected. We were told that it was passed because it was the only application that had come forward. This makes statements on good quality design meaningless.
3.21 HBRA would strongly support the compulsory purchase of properties in Market Parade and would also like to see something in the plan on how vacant sites will be managed. The town centre has been blighted by empty building sites in East, North and West Streets. Building sites need to be adequately fenced and kept free of litter and fly tipping. We would like to see reference to this in the Plan. Please see the photos of West Street.
3.21 Under the Market Parade section there should be some mention that the Library may be relocated in the new development as this is noted elsewhere in the document.
The promise of better connectivity between the historic core and the retail parks is welcomed. However when the Central Retail Park was developed the planner’s vision was of shoppers walking through the subway next to Wicks and into the park, has never happened. Most have to cope with crossing Park Road North and then Elm Lane which is a hazard. The expensive white railings that were fitted as a design feature boundary to the Retail Park, are covered by vegetation, and have become invisible! Cheap chestnut pail fencing has been fitted near the traffic lights to fill the gap, giving the impression of poor planning. The street lighting next the stream to assist people to walk through the park after dark from the Historic Centre to the Central Retail Park, never materialised.
Town Centre: East Street. 3.2. Havant Borough Residents Alliance and all the other town centre organisations strongly oppose the proposal in the draft Plan to take East Street out of the town centre.
The proposal would break up the historic core, most of which in in East Street (East Street has the highest number of listed buildings in the Borough). We are also surprised that HBC has not contacted the twenty businesses located in East Street about the proposed change.
Although retail has declined in East Street for a number of reasons, there is a very strong service sector which includes three dental practices, a bank, two accountants, two insurance brokers , a large estate agents and a hairdressers, two housing associations the Talking Newspaper office and two mediation services and a software provider. There is one retail shop and three other businesses please see photo, which recently located in the area. Leisure is important in this street, comprising of a restaurant, a club, a gym and the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre. At the rear of East Street there is also the recently renovated Pallant Centre, the largest community facility in the area and also the Gazebo Garden (see 3.14 of your Plan as this is exactly what has happened in East Street).
It is not clear in your document if the buildings in Pallant at the rear of East Street would still be in the town centre.
3.3 The draft Plan makes no mention of the many services needed in a town and seems just a narrow focus on retail and cafes. This East Street area is very much at the heart of our community.
3.7 The main leisure facilities such as the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre the Havant club and a gym are already in this area. This seems to contradict 3.7 which talks about introducing leisure facilities in the town centre. We already have these in East Street and would of course welcome more. So why take East Street out of the town centre?
3.10 HBRA would like to see East Street remain in the town centre boundary and have it included in new Master Plan for the town centre. The facilities in East Street are surrounded by many homes in central Havant and a little further away in Warblington and Denvilles, making them accessible on foot, by public transport or by car for those less able without using the A27. The track from School Lane has greatly improved access to the East Street area by foot and bike. HBRA has no objection to new homes in East Street but it is a backward step to take East Street out of the town centre.
As stated above we have no objection to homes being developed in East Street but we do challenge the statement in the Plan about housing led regeneration. Numbers 21 and 24 illustrate this point well, they were both previously well - kept offices but now as rented homes are in a dreadful state of disrepair. Please see the photos. Although they are in a Conservation area no enforcement action has been taken. HBRA would like to see mention of enforcement action in the Plan, run-down damp buildings do not make good accommodation for local residents. Development on the Car Park behind the Bear Hotel and East Street:
Pages 216-218 Linked to the list of twenty local small businesses that we have outlined in East Street, is the need for parking and HBRA strongly feel that the East Pallant car park should not be a site for housing. The car park is also important for visitors to the Pallant Centre, St Faith’s church which does not have a car park, and for the recently renovated Gazebo Garden and for Waitrose.Gazebo Garden: Page 217 . Please see the photo.Site Opportunities and Constraints.The bullet points 4 on page 217. This is confusing as the Gazebo and garden have recently been restored and publicised with new signage and literature, surely building homes around it would make it less visible. HBRA are also concerned about development on the car park of the Bear Hotel and feel that this would impact on the setting of the gazebo garden.Bullet point 13, page 217 states that ’there is car parking provision for existing and new users’ This statement does not make sense as that parking space is being proposed for development. Historic and Heritage Assets:
Pages 107-109.5.105. “The Council recognises that heritage assets are irreplaceable and should be conserved and where possible, enhanced in a manner appropriate to their significance”.HBRA welcome this statement but feel that this is not backed up by action and a few words in a Local Plan will not preserve our heritage, otherwise it is simply ticking a box .The following are examples of not conserving our local heritage. The Star public house dating from the early 1800s was demolished following a planning meeting decision, this went through on a vote of three in favour and two, including the chair, against. It was also against the Conservation Officers recommendation. The Station Signal Box a Grade 11 listed building is now overgrown and covered in ivy and windows are broken.
The seventeenth century Wellington Public House in Waterlooville is to be demolished and the White Heart in East Street would have been demolished if a resident had not stepped in and got it listed. Listedbuildings in East Street are run down and unsightly. HBRA would like to see Havant Borough Council make use of its enforcement powers and something to the effect should be included in the draft Plan. There is no point in having Conservation Areas if buildings within them are not conserved. Please see the photo of the Havant Signal Box.
Havant Town Centre: Havant Railway Footbridge, page 25 section w.HCC funding for a replacement bridge was removed from their budget in 2008 with the economic downturn. It was clearly recognised at that time that a new bridge was needed and plans were being drawn up. Having campaigned on this issue for many years, some improvements have been made with new lighting and roofing being installed. The area under the scaffolding is full of rubbish and the bridge itself continues to decline. HBRA would like to see a firm indication in the plan for when the bridge will be replaced not just linking it to development in the distant future.Innovation:
HBRA feel there is scope for self- build development in the Borough particularly on the large sites and we ask the council to reserve some land for this purpose. There are many skilled trades- people in the Leigh Park, West Leigh and Warren Park areas who are unable to afford to buy a home but have the skills to build one. This was done very successfully when Leigh Park was built and those homes are still very popular. HBRA suggest that the council attempt to make contact with those who may be interested. This would be an innovative approach in an area where many residents are on low incomes but have skills and are having to remain living with parents.
HBRA support well designed good quality energy efficient homes.HBRA are still concerned at the loss of so many green field sites and the gaps that demarcate our settlements and the impact on ecology in the sensitive coastal areas in the Borough and those green spaces that link with them. We were concerned that Rook Farm and Selangor Avenue planning applications were not initially sent to the Chichester Harbour Conservancy for comment. Site: Former Colt site New Lane. HBRA welcome the development of the ninety homes and employment space on the Colt site in New Lane and very much welcome some social housing.
Sites: Land East of College Road. Pages: 264. Kiii. Land north of Fort Purbrook. Former South Downs College Car Park. All three sites are in particularly sensitive locations in terms of archaeology and ecology. There seems to be a rush to develop these sites which were originally indicated as coming through late in the Plan programme. We request that if planning applications are submitted to HBC these sites all go to both Chichester Harbour Conservancy and the Langstone Harbour Board for comment.
K iii : Preserve the existing trees and hedgerows on the site. It was very disappointing, to say the least, that eight mature oaks have already been felled on this site and this does not make HBRA feel confident that the important ecology on this site will be adequately protected.
HBRA would like to see evidence that ecological mitigation measures are undertaken and will be checked when a development is completed and that a register is kept by HBC and this information is checked and reported on.
Housing for older people, people with special medical needs and annexes: Page 154 With an increasing older population this issue deserves far more space in the draft local Plan. Annexes could be an innovative solution initially used for the younger family members needing a home and later for the older occupants, as they downside and would benefit from the younger family at hand to provide care. There is a shortage of this type of accommodation.
The Oak Park site.
HBRA welcome and support this brown field development but are concerned that government policy on local rent allowance has caused years of delay. We hope that negotiations currently underway will resolve this and get the much needed extra-care homes and nursing home beds on site as soon as possible.
HBRA were disappointed that the Old Post Office site in East Street is no longer in the Plan. It would be an excellent location for older peoples housing and we would like to inquire if HBC is still in correspondence with Royal Mail?
Extra- Care Housing. 6.46
Housing ‘the elderly’ should read ‘older people’. Terms like the disabled, the elderly are out dated and should read disabled people and older people.
“Extra care housing in itself can include sheltered housing, care homes and nursing homes”. HBRA feels that statement above in the draft Plan is not correct.
Extra- care is housing that also provides personal care sometimes round the clock care.
Sheltered is the older model of housing with an alarm system and a manager who may live on site but more often visits the scheme on a daily basis. Personal care is not provided by the scheme but can be purchased from a care provider.
Nursing homes and residential homes have to be registered and are inspected by CQC Quality Care Commission they provide a high level of care.
6.50 in this section should read ’care’ not ‘extra care’.
Havant Thicket Reservoir: Page 63. HBRA would like to see more information in the draft Plan on when Havant Thicket Reservoir facility will be needed.
Southern Water: We are concerned about capacity at Budd’s Farm Waste Water Treatment Centre where there are frequent notified discharges at times of high rainfall.
Consultation on the draft Local Plan:
HBRA realise that considerable work by officers was needed to undertake the consultation and we found the staff at exhibitions very helpful, but were disappointed in some respects.
1. The Cabinet meeting which included the draft Plan , was held a few days before Christmas making it difficult for many people to attend.
2. The HBC booklets were useful but few copies were available to the public including HBRA to take away. Reading these at exhibitions was not easy as they were generally in noisy environment.
3. There was no display in the libraries to indicate that the booklets and the draft Local Plan was available there. The booklets were in a ring binder with the plan rather than separately.
4. There was nothing in you publication ‘Serving You’ about the consultation. A centre page spread would have been helpful.
5. The consultation seemed to exclude those who do not have access to the internet and probably those most in need of housing.
6. The exhibition in the Meridian Centre was held in a very isolated place away from the public foot fall. Leaflets could have been given out to the public on the ground floor encouraging them to attend upstairs.
7. Ward councillors did seem to take the opportunity to publicise the draft Plan consultation and exhibitions by supplying their residents with information through the letterbox.
All the Residents’ Associations, Friends of the Earth Havant and East Hants, HBRA and CPRE Hampshire, worked hard to publicise the exhibitions and informed residents of local issues in the draft Plan and advised them on how to make a response.
HBRA hope that you will note the comments that we have made and that we will be listened to. Finally, we are also hopeful that our areas of concern will bring about some changes to the final document. We want Havant Borough to be a good environment to live, work and play not just an urban sprawl.
Ann Buckley, MCIH 14th February 2018
Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance