Bowling alley should not be sacrificed for new estate

BLAISE TAPP: 'Tis the season to be more giving to the lonely

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Perhaps it was never the best site for a retail park – a natural bowl tucked into and, to a large extent, hidden at the foot of Portsdown Hill. But for many years it has proved to be the ideal location for a 10-pin bowling alley and more than 400 bowlers agree.

That’s how many have signed a petition in just a few days to prevent the AMF Bowling complex at Bedhampton becoming history.

Developers Linden Homes are keen to build an 86-home estate on Havant Retail Park at Portsdown Hill Road.

And that could mean the end of the much-loved bowling alley in an area bereft of decent recreational facilities.

There is also a fear among some that, should this proposal be supported by Havant Borough Council, Bedhampton would become over-developed.

Jenny Wride, a councillor who represents the area, says: ‘My main concern, apart from losing a community facility, is we have already got 92 dwellings at Scratchface Lane approved.

‘Should another 86 be built? I think it’s totally unsustainable.’

She has a point and we agree with her.

Scratchface Lane is within a strike of the bowling alley and it looks as if open spaces and recreational opportunities in Bedhampton are gradually being eroded.

Of course, the fact the developers do not want to build on a greenfield site but recycle land already built on is a good thing.

But there has to come a point when the wider needs of the community have to be taken into account.

How many times have we watched new estates go up without the infrastructure needed to sustain them? This could become one of those.

Sandie Montgomery, the secretary of Havant Youth Bowling Club, says the alley attracts young bowlers from across the area. ‘If you take that away there’s nothing over the hill for children.

‘We are crying out for these sorts of places,’ she adds.

If this site really is deemed to be suitable for houses, why not find the complex a new, suitable home in the same area before granting planning permission?