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Joined-Up Thinking?

Readers could be forgiven for wondering if there is a lack of joined-up thinking amongst the ‘powers-that-be’ when it comes to planning matters. Voters must be mindful that politicians’ manifestos may have ill-considered consequences and, given major developers’ political donations, housing promises may not be ‘the right homes in the right places’. Langstone’s Southmere Field’s legal Covenant preventing residential building was historically respected by Havant Borough Council but central Government’s ill-considered housebuilding commitments may well result in a developer’s successful challenge (APP/21/00647) resulting in permanent loss of this ancient, valuable ecological environment – akin to London’s valued parkland. Recent years’ Ministers failed to enact sensible legislation to prevent national land hoarding and enforce speedy house-building on permitted developments; consequently the National Planning Policy Framework is now a ‘developers’ charter’.

We now read that climate change reality has, elsewhere, destroyed woodland intended to enable ‘net-zero’ carbon targets (Telegraph 07/08/21) and London companies buy Welsh farms to plant trees to tick their own zero carbon requirements! There is anger about the loss of such good farmland. Hayling residents warned HBC that developers’ nitrate neutrality payments for ‘permanent’ woodland/heathland etc. elsewhere eg on the IOW, to build profitable properties on Hayling’s farmland, has neither past evidence nor future certainty of success. It makes no sense to build on existing versatile agricultural land, other than the pecuniary one. Farming practices have changed to reduce nitrogen. Intensifying house-building inevitably increases residential waste-water (WW), and its associated human activity, will, on Hayling, worsen our over-loaded combined sewage network plus Southern Water’s (SW) inadequate WW storage system, so more raw sewage discharges into our local Harbours. Even the Government’s Environment Agency – waste-water quality regulator -, can’t keep up with SW’s transgressions.

Hampshire County Council’s electric bikes scheme sounds great, but where are the all-purpose cycle tracks here on Hayling? Joined-up thinking? Cycle Hayling endlessly campaigns for effective much-needed safe routes to encourage all age cycling away from narrow dangerous roads. But neither County nor Local Councils can agree even to protect the well-established and immensely popular Billy Trail and build an all-weather surface on it. It took a retired enthusiast, Peter Drury, and his bringing together of sources like the Lottery Funding and Councils in order to create the now useable northern section. Despite this innovative, environmentally friendly and immensely valuable work, the Council is so worried about the impact of Hayling’s proposed major developments on our restricted road network, that its Local Plan’s Hayling Transport Assessment proposes the Billy Trail as an emergency vehicle route.

On the subject of local facilities, our Council needs more spending on routine maintenance of our public amenities. Clean public toilets are essential, especially on Hayling, Havant’s flagship tourist venue. Our beach areas need frequent, visible patrols, encouraging good dog stewardship and litter reduction. Despite voluntary clean-ups, beach resorts require Council care to support a cared-for reputation. Other countries and some UK regions follow such good practice so please encourage our Council to follow suit.


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