AN AUTHORITY has come under fire for the way it has handled regeneration plans for a run-down area in a town centre.
A comprehensive plan for the future of Market Parade in Havant was due to go on show at a public exhibition today.
But the event has been cancelled after councillors voted last week to approve plans for a 130-flat 13-storey development in the north east section of Market Parade.
Critics say the public exhibition should have happened well before big decisions were made and planning consents granted.
Posters had been put up saying ‘Making Market Parade Better For You’ but were overprinted with ‘cancelled’ yesterday.
Council leaders say that the plan – called a Local Development Order (LDO) which aims to speed up the planning process by creating an area-wide blueprint – will have to be reviewed in light of the decision.
Ann Buckley, a resident and former councillor on the planning committee, told The News: ‘The council should engage with residents properly on planning matters but in this instance has caused utter confusion.’
Comments were made at the planning meeting that the council was ‘putting the cart before the horse’.
Bob Comlay, from Havant Civic Society, said: ‘We’re disappointed, though not entirely surprised by the postponement of the public exhibition of the draft Market Parade Local Development Order.
‘Given the recommendation given to last Thursday’s planning committee meeting that they should pass the outline planning application for the 13-storey tower, it was rather surprising that the council had still gone ahead with the announcement of the exhibition.’
He said the society hoped to work with the council on the plan to take into account last week’s planning decision.
The LDO is being funded by a government grant.
Council leaders have argued the authority had to determine the planning application before the deadline, as demanded by planning laws.
Cllr David Guest, who leads planning, said: ‘All options will now be considered to produce the LDO design such that it addresses open market viability issues aimed at attracting redevelopment investment in this important part of the Havant town centre. Arrangements for a re-arranged public exhibition will be announced as soon designs evolve.’