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Forlorn Hope?

Residents are all too familiar with recurrent failures of Southern Water’s sewage system on Hayling Island. These must be constantly flagged up by press and the public because Southern Water assured Havant Borough Council and Hayling residents alike, at its 2017 presentation to Hayling Island’s Infrastructure Advisory Group, that its infrastructure was robust enough to cope with the Council’s proposed 1000+ additional homes set out in its Local Plan to 2036. For those living on Hayling there is ongoing and tangible evidence that Southern Waters’ assurances are not being met; yet again the sewer system failed. Successions of tankers deployed over several days in April at Hayling’s many pumping stations - in order to take the pressure off another incident at Fishery Lane Pumping Station -, reported evidence of waste left on public routes, and closure of Rails Lane once more, all provide frequent reminders that the system is not fit for purpose. On this occasion a damaged cable reportedly caused the major incident; but such widespread disruption to both domestic users and the public is no longer an isolated event.

At time of writing, HIRA’s Hustings, where local political candidates present themselves, explain what they stand for then answer an audience’s questions, will have hosted 5 candidates. Currently, promises to address Hayling’s infrastructure needs are on their Agenda but every resident must write to their Councillors, reminding them of our concerns and asking them how they are representing us. Those of us on Hayling’s Infrastructure Advisory Group look forward to the resumption of those Meetings with Havant Borough Council, and to Council Officers and all our Councillors addressing residents’ repeated concerns.

Hayling’s very restricted road network, limited access to the mainland and the A27 congestion remain central to residents’ worries. Therefore the fact that Councils, throughout the country, have no process to accumulate the impact of ongoing windfall applications, is irrational. A ‘windfall’ site is one that has not been specifically identified as available in the Local Plan process; it normally comprises previously developed sites and has unexpectedly become available. Given the number of such sites that routinely occur on Hayling, many think that such windfall sites should be considered as a composite each year, so that their cumulative effect on the Island’s infrastructure can be clearly understood and these results published. Although each windfall development could be up to 50 dwellings, only the impact of that one Application on our infrastructure is considered, and not in conjunction with the many others during a given year. This is the case even if such an Application is singled out for the scrutiny of the Council’s Development Management Committee (DMC). This irrational approach defies common sense. Surely it is not beyond the ability of either the Government or our local Council to devise a way of including windfall. After all, so many of everyday companies, insurances, pensions for example use past known events to make equally vital financial decisions.

With every Government’s determination to develop wherever possible, regardless of quality of life, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has become virtually a Developer’s charter hence Local Plans’ efforts to determine where building is possible leaving it to Applications to be fought case by case. Furthermore local communities, who have trusted their politicians, now must look to wildlife, such as Brent Geese habitat, as our forlorn hope in halting the development juggernaut. Of course we also know that so-called habitat mitigation is often no such thing: new sites may be unsuitable, badly researched or wildfowl miss the signposts. The irony of the situation seems to be lost on the decision-makers, namely that if any development must be sustainable economically – as per the NPPF – Hayling’s much touted Regeneration may grind to a halt directly as a result of congested roads that restrict all commercial, tourist and domestic movement. This is, of course, quite apart from the, as yet, inability to prevent recurrent sewage system failures.

Hayling Island Residents' Association/HIRA holds an open Public Meeting Wednesday May 22nd at the URC 7:15 for 7:30pm. Two local NHS GPs present "Health on do we embrace the opportunity that our Primary Care Network will bring?". They look forward to your questions and discussions. Doors must close once full. or usual Drop Boxes.​Contact HIRA or drop boxes: Hayling Community Centre, West Town; Morris Dibben, Mengham; The Terracotta Pot and Gift Shop, Eastoke; Library, Elm Grove.

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