Transport Assessment Rushed Through
When I wrote to members and on our website that the flawed Hayling Island Transport Assessment Addendum (HITAA) had been referred back for “reconsideration” following scrutiny by HBC’s Operations & Place Shaping Board March 10th, I noted the worrying fact that none of the Councillors nor any of HBC’s Officers asked the questions of the Expert Witness, Prof. Nick Hounsell, Engineer and Highways and Traffic specialist, that could have exposed the HITAA flaws. Barely a week later, March 16th, Cllr. Pike published his dismissal of the 4 reasons for the ‘refer back’ on HBC’s website, and his determination that the HITAA will lead the way for transformational development and its associated funding. https://havant.moderngov.co.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=384
Dave Parham and Prof. Hounsell combined the known Hayling A3023 data with its impact on both our Island’s and the wider mainland’s road networks in a thorough Review of the HITAA, published and presented in November 2019 to HBC Councillors and Officers and made it available again for the March 10th Meeting. It is unequivocal in its data: Hayling’s bridge and road network are at capacity; and HBC’s Consultant’s report does not support Cllr. Pike’s claim that HITAA’s mitigation proposals will remove the severe impact of traffic congestion.
The Board’s reasons for HITAA’s ‘refer back’ reveal serious concerns. Firstly only a fraction of the moneys needed for the proposals are currently on offer. Secondly further research in respect of flooding is required and its impact on proposed road mitigation measures. Thirdly the feasibility of using the Billy Line as an emergency ‘mitigating’ route was questioned. Finally, whether the HITAA and mitigation measures would be altered if HBC used updated data rather than the 2011 Census used, including windfall development.
HBC’s haste to approve the HITAA is linked to pushing through the Local Plan to 2036 and fear of developers’ legal actions. Is it really prudent of Cllr. Pike to ignore the evidence- driven critiques of the Transport Assessment made by stakeholders at Hayling’s Infrastructure Advisory Group, and more recently to dismiss the Council’s own scrutiny Board’s ‘refer back’ reasons? The HBC‘Technical note’ published to support the dismissal is unconvincing.
Despite March’s daily Government briefings regarding restrictions on non-essential social interaction, HBC planned meetings, to within a week beforehand, of Cabinet, Full Council and then a Development Management Committee (DMC) with public deputations and gallery – providing 6 feet chair spacing. This not only contravened all Government advice, but would adversely affect democratic participation for obvious reasons. I made these clear to Councillors and separately to HBC’s Legal Officer and CEO, requesting all such meetings’ postponement. At time of writing, all but Cabinet have been postponed, apparently pending Government permission for remote meetings. Given all the associated problems for all ages to reliably access remotely held democratic meetings, I also argued that these would restrict effective democratic involvement.
The Cabinet’s March 25th Meeting is to accept changes to the Pre-Submission Local Plan such as the HITAA, and despite there being Planning Applications on sites included, plus a DMC hearing for Sinah Field. All of these should surely be dealt with before Cabinet processes the Local Plan for the next stage of consultation. The Council seems to be rushing headlong into a programme that it cannot fund unless over 1000 new homes plus windfall development are permitted. Rational concerns about the HITAA and its weaknesses need to be addressed properly now, otherwise we are storing up serious problems for Hayling’s future.
Returning to the democratic involvement issue, I was emailed, a few days beforehand, information about a “Councillor coffee morning...for residents to express their concerns face to face” March 14th. This does not seem to have been advertised anywhere nor were the Councillors present aware of whether it was a Council or Conservative event. The handful of residents who were able to attend saw no others. Their anonymised questions and responses are available from HIRA.