HBC Plan Under Scrutiny
Havant Borough’s Local Plan (LP) Stage 1 week-long Hearings by Government appointed Inspectors Mr. Jonathan Manning, Mr. Thomas Hatfield have concluded. You may view relevant Examination Documents, particularly the Programme MOH03 including Participants and MIQ01 Inspectors’ Questions, on the Council’s Local Plan website. A handful of Hayling residents made huge efforts to present Inspectors with Hayling Island’s realities but we are up against successive Governments’ drive to support residential developers regardless of localities’ suitability. Simultaneously local authorities must now seek funding from developers’ contributions to attempt ‘mitigating’ damaging habitat destruction and housing impact – much like Government’s assumption that bull-dozing natural habitat can save any species by planting trees now. There are 3 possible LP outcomes described by Inspector Manning: it’s sound (rarely); sound but with Modifications (typically by Council, approved by Inspector); it’s unsound (changes can’t make it sound). We sincerely hope for the second outcome, desiring reductions in housing numbers and the impact on Havant’s environment. If “unsound”, Government intervenes and can approve developers’ own programmes.
Inevitably, developers’ representations pressed for yet more house-building. Residents’ (non-councillors) - from their own researches - made strong cases against all Issues raised. For example, Windfall development needs inclusion, effectively reducing new building need. The Council’s Statement of Community Involvement often lacked effective public engagement and was not always publicly available - similarly also for other necessary documents throughout the LP’s process. CPRE’s representative, amongst other participants, provided invaluable insight into the urgent need to recognize adverse impacts on our harbours and landscape biodiversity whose constraints are well known. The inadequacy of Council’s Nutrient Neutrality policy was argued repeatedly as were the losses of long-standing habitat for coastal birds like Brent Geese, Waders, threatened Curlews and for veteran trees’ multiple rare bat species. Havant’s mainland will suffer tremendously from developments and put at risk neighbouring South Downs National Park ‘dark skies’. As for water-related issues, new homes’ 110 litres per person per day – which Government may reduce – which householders can over-ride, the Council simply made it a ‘condition in perpetuity’: residents are eager to see exactly how such a condition can be enforced even by new housing sites’ Management Companies. These are essential to manage the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) and must be paid for by new residents. It was argued that, with the forecast 1.6m sea rise level within decades plus storm surges, SuDs could well become over-whelmed putting our drainage and environment in jeopardy.
Inspectors closely questioned Council’s employment allocations strategy and related Borough transport’s journey times. Residents also focussed on Hayling’s severely constrained road network plus the lack of well-planned, practised, essential emergency drills for Hayling. Council provided no reassurance on either of these issues. Hampshire County Council’s Mr. Wright referenced the June 2019 Declaration of Climate Change Emergency regarding the need for carbon neutrality and walking/cycling for local trips: “don’t bake in future car-borne traffic”. Residents must wonder how our Council can make these aspirations a reality across the Borough.
Whilst Southern Water’s sewage discharges are beyond the Inspector’s LP scope, as they fall under the Government’s own Environment Agency’s Regulation, it is astonishing not only that SW’s discharges continue, but that its Chief Executive received a £550,900 bonus despite SW’s penalty fine of £90m for deliberately dumping raw sewage 2010-2015. Yet again the theme of inadequate enforcement at every level of government re-surfaces.