STRONG demands were made for a council to go back to the drawing board on proposals for Havant town centre.
More than 260 people crammed into St Faith’s Church Hall last night to voice their concerns at plans for East Street.
There were many angry people and the overwhelming message was that residents want the council to rethink their ideas and consult more.
The plans could include building housing on land currently occupied by the church hall and car parks behind East Street.
But residents said an influx of new people into the town centre would not necessarily regenerate it.
Tim Dawes, from Havant Green Party, proposed making a ‘creative quarter’ of Havant, using existing facilities such as the church hall.
He said: ‘We don’t think housing is the only thing that makes a community.
‘We need other things as well. I do believe these people are doing their best.
‘I hope they will take a step back.’
Havant resident Lucy Flannery said the threat of housing on sites in the town centre was stifling regeneration as some businesses were put off.
She said: ‘This is madness. When are we going to have some visionary leadership from the council?’
Carol Nash, from Havant, said: ‘The council needs to look at the record of so-called regeneration and then they will know why people are so up in arms about this.’
People also voiced concerns about traffic, pressure on local schools and loss of parking spaces.
Canon Peter Jones, from St Faith’s Church, said church leaders had not formally discussed the proposals yet.
But he said: ‘We would like to make the church more accessible and inviting.’
Council leaders have stressed no decisions have been taken and the proposals are in their earliest stages.
Havant councillor Ray Bolton said: ‘Buildings are to serve the needs of people – first and foremost. The first need of people is somewhere to live.
‘There are young people out there who are finding it increasingly difficult to find somewhere to live.’
The consultation ends September 14. Visit havant.gov.uk.