THE debate on where to put new homes is heating up after a councillor called on the public to consider a treasured field as the spot least likely to add to Emsworth’s flooding woes.
Horse Field, south of Havant Road, in Emsworth, is at the centre of a battle to stop Havant Borough Council including it in a list of sites in the town which would be allowed to be built on between now and 2026.
Emsworth councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray says although he can understand the desire to protect the field –which is next to a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – he feels it is probably the best of the six sites put forward for development by landowners.
Around 6,300 homes must be built to keep up with housing demand – particularly for affordable housing – across Havant borough.
Cllr Gibb-Gray said the real issue at stake is the risk of flooding.
‘I fully accept the need for development, provided it’s on and in sustainable locations, but we have a real and serious problem in Emsworth – flooding,’ said Cllr Gibb-Gray.
‘The majority of people here are against building on the Horse Field and suggest the other sites in the northern part of the neighbourhood.
‘What is forgotten about these sites is that they straddle the Westbrook Stream and any building will be on the flood plains which will cause a risk of flooding further down in Victoria Road and Bridge Road. I am asking for a full flood risk assessment to be done on all the Emsworth sites, so as we can be sure those we select are the ones that are truly sustainable.’
He added: ‘Together with other councillors I will do what I can to ensure the sites allocated will not add to the considerable threat Emsworth faces from future severe weather events and flooding.’
The council carried out an informal consultation earlier in the summer and the results showed Horse Field was the least favoured site for development.
The others are part of South Street car park, land south of A27, land west of Horndean Road, land east of Horndean Road and land west of Coldharbour Farm.
A formal consultation will take place this year.
Former Havant councillor Virginia Wilson-Smith takes a different view to Cllr Gibb-Gray.
She said: ‘I feel it is dangerous to allow it to go to building. It’s very, very close to the AONB and Chichester Harbour Conservancy is against it.
‘Once we start to pick away at the edges I fear that we will end up with nowhere else to pick.
‘I’m not happy about it at all and have to disagree with Brendan on this.
‘The debate is certainly starting to hot up.’