Eyesore barge must be moved from Hayling inlet

UNSIGHTLY The World War II ammunitions barge, left, at Hayling Island
UNSIGHTLY The World War II ammunitions barge, left, at Hayling Island

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SINCE the 1930s, Jane Shipp’s family have had a houseboat moored on The Kench, Hayling.

The tiny inlet in the south of the island is a highly-protected nature reserve and a haven for sun-worshippers.

But Mrs Shipp’s latest holiday home, a 70ft ex-World War II ammunitions barge, angered other houseboat owners when she moved it to the site in September 2010.

It has caused so much upset, Havant Borough Council has ordered Mrs Shipp to move it by August. She has now begun an appeal against the action saying the council’s rule of not allowing houseboats of over 45ft is unlawful.

Martin Ward, a beach chalet owner, said: ‘I can’t see it directly from my chalet but for the people who can it’s blighted their lives, it looks so appalling.

‘It looks like a harbour wall from the outside. It’s a great big monstrosity.

‘Mrs Shipp claimed that it was a little bit larger than the original houseboat but it is in fact 2.75 times the volume of what was there before.

‘It is totally out of place. The other half of The Kench was purchased by Hampshire County Council at taxpayers’ expense to preserve the area for nature and tranquillity.

‘That objective is being ruined by this ugly barge.’

Natural England has told Mrs Shipp to stop the maintenance work she began on the barge last week because they feel it would be detrimental to the area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

In a statement, the council said the siting of the barge, and modification and conversion works, by reason of their size, scale and visual prominence would appear harmful to the surrounding area and distinctive coastal landscape, and would be detrimental to visual amenity and harmful to the character of the area. It also said it would risk harm to the area.

But Mrs Shipp’s planning consultant Sue Organ said: ‘Mrs Shipp has had a houseboat on this mooring since before planning permission was required.

‘This is the third houseboat her family have had on this mooring, which is big enough to accommodate it.

‘The mooring could actually accommodate a boat bigger than this barge but she is not looking to have the biggest boat, just the best for the location.

‘This size limit has been dreamed up by Havant Borough Council. The barge is not a building, it’s like a caravan, it can be moved to and fro.

‘The fact it is bigger than 45ft is why we’re appealing.

‘We don’t agree that the reasons they have given are lawful.

‘We think the mooring is the use of the land and you can change boats on the mooring as long as you don’t overstep it.’