Worries over beauty spot being harmed by homes

The Royal Pier Hotel, now Rees Hall.

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A PROTECTED beauty spot and the green gap between Emsworth and Havant could be under threat by a planning strategy, it was warned today.

Officials at Chichester Harbour Conservancy have written to Havant Borough Council with concerns about a housing blueprint for the borough over the next two decades.

They are worried that beauty spots such as Horse Field in Emsworth could be in jeopardy.

The authority, which manages the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, says the gap between Havant and Emsworth – of which Horse Field is a part – is an important feature in maintaining the beauty of the coastline.The council’s Draft Allocations Plan, which is out for consultation, outlines the likely locations of 2,788 homes across the borough.

After widespread public opposition, Horse Field was discounted as a housing site, but the council has not ruled out that it could be considered as one in the future.

A conservancy report suggested that there appeared to be some councillors who were unaware that Horse Field lies within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Linda Park, planning officer for the conservancy, said: ‘It forms part of the green gap between Emsworth and Havant and Langstone and is one of the few remaining green gaps in that part of the coastline.

‘It’s a really important part in the setting of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

‘It’s really important to local communities as well to protect the identity of settlements.’

She has also raised concerns about the wording of the policies, calling for stronger emphasis on protecting gaps.

The policy states the council will ‘always work proactively with applicants to find solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible’. The conservancy wants ‘wherever possible’ removed.

Andrew Biltcliffe, service manager for planning policy, said: ‘The public consultation on the borough-wide allocations plan is still in progress. We welcome views from environmental groups and organisations along with those from members of the public. All of the comments that we receive will be considered after the consultation has ended.’

The consultation ends at 9am on January 21. Visit havant.gov.uk.