MEMBERS of one of Havant’s oldest clubs have spoken out in support of controversial proposals to regenerate the town centre.
Anthony Portal, president of The Havant Club, said parts of East Street in Havant had outlived their modern use and were in desperate need of regeneration.
Another club member, Michael O’Connor, a former landlord of the White Hart pub, said the empty 123-year-old pub needed a huge amount of work in order to save it.
It comes as the council is set to go out for consultation on speculative proposals to create a new town square.
The proposal is to redevelop the area extending from Poppins cafe in North Street to the Bear Hotel in East Street.
Apart from listed buildings, Glanville’s old offices and the older part of the Bear Hotel, the present buildings, including the White Hart pub, would be demolished and replaced with 73 homes, of which half would be flats.
Some properties would have shops or restaurants.
In West Street the area next to the church would be widened and flattened, giving full pedestrian access to create a plaza.
The plans have caused widespread concern about the loss of characterful Victorian buildings in the area.
The Havant Club is 120 years old and is next to the White Hart pub.
A question mark hangs over the future of the club building, but members would like it to stay.
Mr Portal said: ‘All our members accept something needs to be done about the town centre.
‘I personally think this building would stay. The best thing to do would be to keep the club building if it’s physically possible to do so.
‘My own personal view is the White Hart has outlived its usefulness and sadly ought to come down.’
Mr Portal said Barratt Homes had shown an interest in the development.
He added: ‘This project is very long-term.
‘We would not expect to see anything serious in the way of a positive plan coming for at least another year.
‘It may be the plans look nothing like the present proposals.’
Mr O’Connor said: ‘As a pub, it’s time to say goodbye.’
John Gawley, 81, a club member, said he wanted any development to be in keeping with the style of the town.
He said: ‘We have got a charming little town.
‘So much modern development is bare.
‘The style of the town really started in the late 19th century.
‘We are not looking for an exact replica, but sympathetic treatment.’