Lagoon plans at replica mill get the go-ahead

Portchester residents angry as council backs down from appeal

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PLANNERS have given the green light to a man-made lagoon next to a new restaurant despite concerns about toxic algae forming in it.

The controversial proposals were put forward by developers Strand Harbour Securities as part of its plans to build a replica tidal mill on the Cams Hall estate in Portchester.

Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee was looking at the lagoon for a second time yesterday after asking in March for further questions to be answered about it.

Major concerns were raised in March about the water becoming stagnant and creating health problems.

The committee had given the plans for a replica mill housing a restaurant permission back in 2010 against the recommendation of its officers. As a result more than 20 conditions were attached to the permission, including two about the lagoon.

Engineering consultant Mott MacDonald was hired to carry out an independent report into the lagoon and recommended installing an aeration system to keep oxygen levels up.

And Strand agreed to install an ultrasound system to help prevent the build-up of algae.

However, there was also a suggestion from councillors that replacing a tidal lagoon with a freshwater lake would remove any problems.

But chief planning officer Lee Smith said: ‘That could be a way around it, but the applicant at the moment enjoys permission for the way it has already been described.

‘The planning committee did approve a basin.’

Natural England and the Environmental Agency also had concerns, but said that they found Strand’s solutions ‘satisfactory’.

Cllr Roger Price said: ‘Saying that these proposals “should work” rings very large alarm bells for me.’

The committee voted by six votes to three to approve the conditions. Councillors Nick Walker, Arthur Mandry, David Swanbrow, Trevor Cartwright, Keith Evans and Michael Ford voted for it, councillors Peter Davies, Katrina Trott and Price voted against.

Stuart Waring from Strand said the company had done everything it could to accommodate suggested changes, but he added: ‘The implementation of the scheme has been delayed by a vocal, articulate and threatening minority, as has been demonstrated here tonight.’

Greg Lismore, of Swan Quay in Fareham, was one of three deputations against the lagoon at the meeting and said afterwards: ‘The planning committee has visibly demonstrated their partisanship and lack of good judgment in approving details for a new artificial pond at Fareham Creek.

‘The councillors could easily have taken the sensible option but they have chosen to put Fareham Creek at risk in the future and support the developer.

‘This decision will come back to haunt them.’