RADICAL plans have been launched to transform Havant – with the creation of a new town square and the demolition of several old buildings.
The plans would involve redeveloping the corner of North Street and East Street, including demolishing the 123-year-old White Hart pub.
To create the town square in West Street, a 200-year-old wall next to St Faith’s Church would be removed.
However, this part of the plan has drawn concerns as it raises questions over the future of gravestones behind the wall, as well as the location of Havant’s war memorial.
Local historian Ralph Cousins told The News this part of Havant may have more than 23,000 human remains as the church is well over a millennium old.
The plans are in their earliest stages and have been drawn up by Havant Borough Council. No developer is involved at present.
The area for redevelopment extends 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 would be demolished and replaced with 73 homes, of which half would be flats. Some properties would have shops or restaurants on the ground floor.
The pavement would be widened, with the new building set back in a curve.
At the corner would be an archway, giving access to the interior of the development, which could include building on part of the Bear Hotel car park and the church hall.
Meanwhile, in West Street, which is already semi-pedestrianised, the area next to the church would be widened and flattened, giving full pedestrian access to create a plaza.
Traders told The News something had to be done in that corner of Havant, where several buildings stand empty.
Cathy Roberts, manager at Sue Ryder Care, in North Street, said: ‘It’s regeneration. The town at this end is dying.’
Kate Turner, chairwoman of Havant and Bedhampton Community Network, said: ‘There should be a night-time presence in Havant – a restaurant area.’
But she was concerned about redevelopment of the churchyard.
She added: ‘A lot of the gravestones are very old, but there’s still a feeling of desecration about it.’
Mr Cousins, also a Labour councillor, said: ‘There are a lot of hurdles to get over.’
Canon Peter Jones, from St Faith’s Church, was not available for comment.
The church magazine speaks about the possible ‘stripping back of the church to its original footprint’.
Cllr David Guest, Havant’s deputy leader, said the war memorial could move, but it was too early to say as there were no final designs.
He said: ‘The council is working on plans for the redevelopment of Havant town centre, and hopes to be in a position shortly to hold a public consultation exercise with displays of ideas and options. It is hoped that the public will enter into the idea enthusiastically, and provide their own ideas for how such redevelopment might enhance the public realm.’