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Inspector's November 2021 Interim Report

HIRA December Article 2021

The Government Inspectors’ November Interim Report on Havant’s Local Plan unequivocally found the Hayling Transport unsound, with concerns that proposed new housing would have “severe & unacceptable impacts on highway safety” and that, it states, is apart from the Council’s Seafront Regeneration Ambition. Connecting these are Inspectors’ findings that Eastoke’s Southwood Rd., Eastoke Corner, Beachlands, West Beach are subject to flood risk and climate change, becoming Zones 2 or 3 over the developments’ lifetimes, so not sound for any development. Despite Council modifications, suggesting raising all accommodation above flood level, it’s unclear if this can be successfully achieved nor that the Flood Warning & Evacuation Plan for future residents can be successfully effected.

There is too little suitable land available for the 900 new homes imposed by Government, because of inadequate road network, unsuitable habitat mitigation sites and the increasingly real threat of flooding in coming decades. Surely it is high time our MP demonstrates that he now understands these fundamental problems, joining with neighbouring MPs to fight against these ridiculously high housing numbers.

The Council’s Hayling Seafront Ambition is presented as a long-overdue ‘smartening up’, improving essential toilet blocks, beach huts, intentionally encouraging more visitors and cash for the Council. The September Cabinet Meeting, where it was introduced, confirmed that, because of all the proposed new commercial development, a manager would be needed, presumeably incentivised to increase revenue from all the new innocuous sounding ‘pop-ups’. It is a complete contradiction therefore that this ‘Ambition’ describes Hayling’s seafront as “high-quality natural environment”. If that is the case, why are fenced walk-ways, pop-up street food vendors, overnight accommodation necessary? How will the impact of a Beachlands Golf Course, residential developments, events space, “redefined beach edge”, overnight stay locations affect a nearby SSSI Nature Viewing site? It’s good to know that the proposed beach walk from Beachlands continues “barrier-free” but those currently enjoying this entire natural landscape manage to do so without marked off pathways, and even just sit on the beach to enjoy the peace and quiet. Hayling’s beaches are unique along England’s south coast: although adjacent to creeping urbanization and a densely populated coastline, visitors still come precisely because it is not commercially developed. Ironically the Council states the seafront is “often crowded during peak times but quiet out of season”, yet it wants development intended to bring in more visitors presumeably year-round. High quality natural environments remain that way because they are not built up and commercially managed.

West Beach Concept Plan appears to assume that there will be plenty of remaining land to provide walking and cycling “loops” to the Ferry Boat Inn and back. The reality is huge banks of pebbles, delivered by lorries, to prevent the sea’s ingress as far as Hayling Golf Club’s southern fence. Will these continue and do the Ambition’s authors realize that cyclists have to walk their bikes because of the pebbles? Interestingly, and despite the Council’s Coastal Partners’ Engineers repeated public avowals, the Ambition suggests that West Beach might have sea defences but we should note that these would be to enable “alternative schemes to be delivered”: what of the “high quality natural environment” which is to become a cash cow for the Council’s budgetary needs throughout the Borough?


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