Green gaps set to disappear forever as major housebuilding plan is revealed

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The countryside surrounding Harting Down in the South Downs National Park, in West Sussex.

West Sussex has country’s ‘best quality of life’ for pensioners

  • Community leaders speak of their shock over housing targets
  • Political leaders say new housing targets are being imposed by the government
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THOUSANDS of new homes are in the pipeline that could see the area’s remaining green spaces swallowed up.

Havant Borough Council has revealed its housebuilding plan for the next 20 years, which would see an extra 5,000 homes built – on top of the 6,300 already earmarked in the current local plan.

Key areas ripe for development include sites bordering the city, including a minimum of 400 homes on land at Camp Down, near Crookhorn, 300 homes on Forty Acres field off Havant Road, and some of the land north of Fort Purbrook at Portsmouth Golf Course.

A huge site for development is the last remaining farmland between Denvilles, Havant, and Emsworth.

A total of 1,650 homes are planned for this land and a new junction off the A27 – near the current Emsworth service station and motel – would be built to access the huge estate.

The plans were revealed at a press briefing at Havant Borough Council’s offices at The Plaza in Havant.

Andy Biltcliffe, head of planning at Havant, said it heralds a ‘massive change’ for the area.

But he said the council was being forced into developing a new housing blueprint in response to pressure from the government to build more homes.

The new housing targets caused shock when revealed to some community leaders yesterday.

David Webb, a member of a residents’ group in Bedhampton, said: ‘It’s far too many houses.

‘The infrastructure can’t cope with it.’

He added: ‘It will be terrible. We will have no separation between the conurbations. Where’s the Havant gap for goodness sake?’

He said he attended consultations three years ago about where houses should be built and added that people ‘had not been listened to’.

He said highway officials had already said that roads were ‘at saturation point’.

‘You can’t keep putting a quart in a pint pot,’ he said.

Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth, said: ‘I’m shocked to hear the rest of the green gap could disappear by 2036.

‘This is going to make one continuous development from the Sussex border as far as Southampton.’

And he added: ‘I’m not sure that anyone’s concerns have even been noted.

‘It seems that the notion of us taking control and shaping our own communities has been dumped.

‘The way the council/government seems to be going is just a free for all.

‘Where there’s any green space, it’s going to be built on.’

Lorraine Clode, from the Emsworth Forum, ‘cautiously welcomed’ the plan, arguing that it was better for the council to come up with a plan rather than builders speculatively developing the region.

She said: ‘I accept it because I can’t not accept it.

‘It’s being inflicted upon us. It would be pointless to fight against it. What we have to do is make sure we put the houses where the infrastructure can stand it.’

Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The council is a substantial landowner in the area, and we have given an undertaking to Havant Borough Council that we will work with them to ensure the council able to achieve and deliver its house number requirements, without creating over development.

‘I welcome Havant’s plans, and the fact they are putting it out in the public domain early so they can consult.’

The sites identified have been led by landowners who have come forward with land which could potentially be developed.

Mr Biltcliffe said: ‘This is something the government requires us to do.

‘It’s not something we get a choice about.

‘We have been looking at every potential site. The phrase has been used is “We can leave no stone unturned”.’

He said there was little space left in the area and it was the ‘harsh reality’ of where planning had got to.

‘If we don’t move this forward, developers will be putting in planning applications swiftly,’ said Mr Biltcliffe.

‘We want to get as much in the driving seat as we can.’

Councillor David Guest, who heads planning for Havant borough, said: ‘Government has told us that we need to provide more homes in the area and this is something I welcome because it means that our children and grandchildren have a better chance of getting on the housing ladder.’