CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a bowling alley to make way for an 86-home development have been approved.
Community leaders pleaded with Havant Borough Council’s planning committee to refuse the application to redevelop Havant Retail Park, in Portsdown Hill Road.
But, by a majority vote, councillors argued the site was no longer suited for commercial use.
Bosses at AMF Bowling wrote to the council to say the business was no longer viable – despite 1,400 people signing a petition to save it and the alley being used by 45 junior bowlers and 250 league players.
Homebase has already moved out of the site, a former chalk pit.
Liz Fairhurst, county councillor for Bedhampton, told the committee: ‘This is the loss of a very valuable leisure facility for Havant.’
She added: ‘I don’t think it would be safe for children to walk to school. If they come out of the development, there’s no pavement.’
Resident Bill Owen said: ‘The site is being overdeveloped for what it is, simply to meet somebody’s financial criteria.’
Leigh Park Cllr Faith Ponsonby was worried about air pollution from the A3(M).
‘There’s very little sunshine coming in,’ she said. ‘It’s a pit and you are cramming it with houses. In 40 years’ time this will potentially be a slum.’
Developer Linden Ltd is not including any social housing.
Cllr Richard Brown, who sits on the committee, said: ‘The lack of affordable housing does nothing to help the housing queues.’
Cllr David Smith had concerns about traffic congestion and shortage of school places.
But Cllr John Smith said it was better to develop a brownfield site than a greenfield site. He said: ‘I accept there will be more traffic but I don’t accept it’s going to cause more problems than anywhere else.’
Cllr Paul Buckley said: ‘We would not want to leave a brownfield site to vegetate with all commercial use having been removed from it.’
Four councillors voted for development, with two against.