PLANS for 125 new homes and a wetland area could be a ‘golden opportunity’ to stop flooding in Emsworth.
That is the view of Chris Clode, chairman of the town’s flood action group.
Developer Bidwells has submitted plans to Havant Borough Council for the homes on land west of Horndean Road and south of Southleigh Road.
Emsworth has been plagued with flooding problems – particularly in the Bridge Road area.
Alleviation schemes in other parts of the town are in the pipeline and the developers say the wetland area will ease the problems here.
But not everyone is happy.
Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray, who represents Emsworth, said: ‘It is an allocated site in the local plan so there will be housing there.
‘But I’m not convinced the flood mitigation is sufficient for that site.
‘And the access is from a single road at the top of what is essentially a U shape.
‘That means people can’t cycle or walk straight out into the town, they have to go to the top of the site.
‘That is not going to be good for Emsworth. And people will use their cars.’
And Ray Cobbett, Hampshire co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth, says he is concerned it will set a precedent for building on the green gap – and a loss of wildlife.
But in a report sent to the council Bidwells says no great crested newts or brent geese were found but bats were present and measures will be put in to look after them.
Mr Clode was cautiously optimistic about the plans.
He said: ‘At times of heavy rainfall, a huge amount of water comes down West Brook from the north and I hope that the consulting engineers have taken this into account and have provided sufficient capacity for the excess water to be contained.
‘If not, Bridge Road and Victoria Road will continue to flood.
‘This development is a golden opportunity to overcome the flooding problems in Bridge Road and I’m sure Havant Borough Council will be looking at the flood alleviation scheme very carefully with the Environment Agency to satisfy themselves that what is proposed is fit for purpose and will do the job properly.
‘We do not want a scheme that looks good on paper but does not fulfil the main purpose, and that is flood alleviation.’