HAVANT CIVIC SOCIETY
Notes of an Open Meeting held at 7.30pm on Tuesday 14 July 2015 at the Havant Meeting Place, Elm Lane, Havant.
The meeting was opened by David Smith, Acting Chairman of the Society, who welcomed some 30 society members and members of the public. David thanked Mr Andrew Biltcliffe, Executive Manager Planning Services at Havant Borough Council, for attending to speak to the meeting. A summary of his talk follows.
The Current Planning Context in Havant
National context. Mr Biltcliffe started by describing briefly the national context for local planning. This is dominated by the Government’s intention that the number of houses built in the UK each year should be significantly increased. Whereas, once, 300,000 houses had been built annually, by 2006/7 this had fallen to 219,000 and fell further to 135,500 in 2012/13. The Barker review in 2005 had determined that 250,000 new homes were needed annually to prevent spiralling house prices and a shortage of affordable homes.
The 2010 coalition Government had seen the planning system as part of the problem and changed the rules to encourage further house building. These reforms were claimed to be working as in Sep 2014 there were permissions in place for 240,000 new homes. The new Government sees house building as key to delivering economic growth, rather than as simply a response to housing shortages. In July 2015 the Government issued a policy paper (Fixing the Foundations: creating a more prosperous nation – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-the-foundations-creating-a-more-prosperous-nation ) that included greater planning freedoms as one of 15 measures to achieve economic growth and greater productivity. These will include brownfield land zoning – effectively giving automatic permission, further encouragement to local authorities to ensure they have local plans in place, speeding up planning decisions, enhanced compulsory purchase powers and a focus on starter homes.
Local context – Prosperity Havant. Mr Biltcliffe then described how HBC’s Corporate & Business Strategy (called Prosperity Havant) was being developed to match the national context. The Council’s financial sustainability depended on income from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) (£0.74M out of £2.3M received so far), the New Homes Bonus (£1.076M in 2015/16) and developer contributions. Economic growth required new homes as well as new jobs.
Localities where there are development opportunities include Havant town centre, Dunsbury Hill Farm, Harts Farm Way, Hayling seafront and West of Waterlooville. Prosperity Havant requires the Council to achieve inward investment, retain major businesses and provide business support and skills. It has an internal focus as Havant does not have a high national profile. The “offer” is essentially that Havant is part of the Southampton/Portsmouth market without the congestion.
Local Plan. The Local Plan comprises the Core Strategy (2011) and the Allocation Plan (2014). Havant was one of the first councils to get its Local Plan in place but this has meant that it was initiated prior to the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. Hence it is becoming outdated and needs review.
Neighbourhood Planning. Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Localism Act 2011. They must be evidence-based and are subject to examination by an inspector and a referendum of local residents. Currently, only Emsworth has been designated as a NP area and Mr Biltcliffe suggested the Society might wish to become involved in a NP for Havant.
Havant Town Centre. Topical planning matters in the town centre that Mr Biltcliffe mentioned were the Market Parade development – an application is expected from the developer in August 2015; the Solent Road development – construction well-advanced. Possible tenants are M&S and Next; East Street – permission has been granted for development at 7 & 9 East Street; West Street – development has started at the old glove factory; and North Street – the new restaurant is expected to open soon.
HBC has obtained a £50k grant from the Dept. of Communities and Local Government to fund the research required for a Local Development Order. (Local Development Orders are made by local planning authorities and give a grant of planning permission to specific types of development within a defined area. They streamline the planning process by removing the need for developers to make a planning application to a local planning authority. They create certainty and save time and money for those involved in the planning process.) This has enabled a footfall survey to be carried out (footfall 2015 back to 2008 levels) and fund research into retail trends and car parking requirements. HBC is also looking at ways to improve transport infrastructure.
Planning Overview. In summary, Mr Biltcliffe noted that he is new in post and is revising the Planning Department’s organisation to make it more responsive to its customers. The Local Plan is being reviewed as part of the PUSH (Partnership for Urban South Hampshire) review. Unlike many councils, HBC has CIL in place. HBC has a 5-year land supply. The Prosperity Havant agenda is gaining traction. The Planning Enforcement Policy, Car Parking and Tree Guide Supplementary Planning Documents are being developed (the first two are now out for consultation). Major development proposals are under way that will deliver the homes and jobs the borough needs.
Questions from the Floor. Mr Biltcliffe then took a number of questions from attendees.
Q. What does a 5-year land supply mean?
A. A council has to have enough land earmarked for development to accommodate its annual new build requirement for the next five years. In the case of HBC, this is 315 homes per annum. If the council does not have a 5-year land supply, it is effectively unable to refuse permission to proposed developments.
Q. Is this number (315 p.a.) likely to rise as a result of the PUSH review?
A. Yes, it could rise to 415. This will be difficult in, for example, Hayling Island where there is little scope for further housing. This is an example of how the improved “duty to cooperate” in Fixing the Foundations will be helpful.
Q. What chance is there of the CIL being used to fund a new community centre for the Havant town centre community?
A. Residents need to get the requirement onto the Council’s list. Emsworth is a good example of a part of the borough where residents are well-organised for this sort of thing. New community centres, such as the one at Denvilles, have been funded by developers as the Council does not have the funds for this. Hence there is the problem that residents may not welcome the development in the town centre that could bring the funding for a community centre.
Tim Dawes echoed the concern expressed in this question, noting that there was a severe lack of facilities for arts, music etc.
Q. Is there a time limit for the new Local Plan?
A. Development of the plan will have to start imminently and it will cover the time period up to 2036.
David Smith then thanked Mr Biltcliffe for attending and giving the Society such an interesting insight into current planning matters.
The Gazebo Garden
Tim Dawes gave a short briefing on the plans for the Gazebo Garden and displayed the plans that had been drawn up by the architect.
(Background information on the Gazebo and its garden can be found at: http://www.havant.gov.uk/landscape/gazebo-garden-havant-town-centre )
Following restoration of the Gazebo in the 1980’s and the creation of the 18C walled garden in 1989, it is again in need of some TLC. The Heritage Lottery Fund has been approached and has responded positively. Their regional development officer is visiting the site at the end of July.
HBC Estates Dept. is content to lease the property to the Society for a peppercorn rent. HBC will continue to maintain the structure but the Society will take on responsibility for maintaining the garden.
The project aspires to:
- Reinstate the window overlooking the garden
- Increase accessibility
- Reinstate the period planting scheme
- Signpost other cultural and historical resources nearby
- Encourage more educational and cultural use
- Set up a Friends organisation
- Establish a sustainable way of maintaining and preserving the garden
The building contract should be let by the end of 2015. This means completion of the building works may not occur until after spring 2016, leading to the major planting activities being undertaken in spring 2017.
David Smith thanked Tim for his briefing. The meeting was then opened up to general questions from the floor.
Q. The Mill Wheel to the east of Tesco is disintegrating. What is its future?
A. David Smith undertook to investigate. (Post-meeting note: at the Society’s 2014 AGM last October it was reported that the wheel was under repair.)
Q. What is happening about the Edward VIII crest over the door of the Sorting Office?
A. Chris Evans has been in contact with Royal Mail’s regional Estates Manager who has responded that she has included this item in their facades maintenance programme. A surveyor was due to inspect it on 3 July.
Q. What is the timescale for any development of the Market Parade block backing onto the park?
A. (From Andrew Biltcliffe) There are not that many different owners of the various properties in the block, which makes things easier. He believes someone is trying to put a development proposal together.
Q. Is there any news regarding the White Hart?
A. No. But there is news of St Faith’s Church Hall. The new Rector’s proposals for refurbishment have apparently been approved by the Church Council and Church House is also to be refurbished. More details are available on the St Faith’s website: http://stfaith.com/big-build-campaign/ .
Q. Is there any news on 44-54 West Street?
A. The property is owned by a landlord in London who seems to have little interest in development.
Q. What can be done about the disruption caused by large lorries delivering to Wilkinson’s?
Q. What is happening with the old glove factory in West Street?
A. (From Andrew Biltcliffe) It is intended it will be developed into flats with additional houses on other land within the site.
There were no further questions. David Smith thanked attendees for their interest and closed the meeting.