CAMPAIGNERS are claiming an early victory in the fight to save a bowling alley from demolition.
Scores of residents and bowling enthusiasts are delighted after officers at Havant Borough Council recommended that plans to replace AMF Bowling with a 86-home development be refused.
Officers said the proposals for Havant Retail Park, off Portsdown Hill Road, Bedhampton, would see the loss of a vital community facility.
Furthermore, they questioned whether such a large number of new homes was even needed in the area. It comes after more than 1,400 people signed a petition to save the bowling alley, which supports nine leagues, as well as visits from local schools and disabled groups.
The detailed planning report was due to go before the council’s planning committee – which would vote on the plans – on Thursday.
But the developer has now submitted extra information – which has not been disclosed yet. It means a decision will now be delayed until the next planning meeting on October 3.
However, campaigners believe the signs are strong that the bowling alley is here to stay.
Sandie Montgomery, secretary of Havant Youth Bowling Club, said: ‘We are not giving up on this.
‘We still want the bowling alley there and we have at least 40 to 50 children who regularly come every week. We have told the management down there we are there until they go. It’s as simple as that.’
She added: ‘We would be ecstatic if it did not close.’
Resident Jenny Wride, of Glebe Park Avenue, was delighted as she was concerned about extra traffic.
‘I would certainly support the recommendation,’ she said.
‘There’s only one access to the site.’
Council officers also raised concerns about the impact of the development on protected bird species in Langstone Harbour.
Meanwhile, managers at AMF Bowling have said they want to stay trading at the retail park for ‘the foreseeable future’.
‘SIGNIFICANT LOSS’ TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
THE bowling alley is protected as a community facility under the Local Plan for Havant borough.
A report states: ‘The closure of the bowling alley would be a significant loss to the local community as it is an indoor leisure facility well used by young people, the elderly and disabled groups.’
Mark Carrington, senior planning manager at Linden Homes, said: ‘In light of the fact that additional information, which is of material significance to the current application, has been provided to the council, we recognise that officers deemed it more appropriate for these proposals to be discussed at a later date.’
He said they would liaise with council officers.