Footpath loss angers locals at Emsworth homes plan exhibition

A PUBLIC exhibition to showcase plans for a new development and gain feedback from residents was held at a community centre.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 5:00 am
The Westwood Close development in Emsworth

Curious members of the public visited Emsworth Community Centre to learn more about Hampshire Homes’ plans to build 49 homes off Westwood Close, in Emsworth.

The move follows the Development Consultation Forum held at Havant Borough Council’s Public Service Plaza in January.

But some of those who attended said the boards of information, which were on display yesterday, told them ‘nothing new’.

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Ray Cobbett, chair of the Havant branch of Friends of the Earth and who opposes the development, said: ‘Most of what I’ve seen today I’ve seen before, except for the very basic designs.

‘This is over-development on a valued piece of land – a green space with Emsworth on one side and Westbourne on the other.

‘The development isn’t even needed to meet the council’s housing targets.

‘It should have been designated as a green space by the council because it includes a much-loved historical footpath, which will now be diverted into a flood zone.’

The 1.48-hectare site is neighboured by the River Ems and the West Sussex village of Westbourne.

The developer plans to build four one-bedroom flats, 22 two-bedroom homes, 19 three-bedroom homes and four four-bedroom homes, with a total of 121 car parking spaces.

Tony Dove, 73, lives in Westwood Close and attended the exhibition. He said: ‘People won’t be able to use the path when it’s wet. I don’t think the developer is listening to residents – today is a sham, we’ve seen it all before.

‘The only thing I haven’t seen is the picture of the houses, which isn’t detailed at all.’

Residents questioned why the homes couldn’t be added to the some 2,100 due to be built at the Southleigh site, between Emsworth and Denvilles, identified in the council’s Local Plan 2036.

Phil Shephard, 65, lives in Westwood Close. He said: ‘There’s 2,000-odd homes being built elsewhere in Emsworth, but here we’ve got 49 houses encroaching on to the last greenfield site between Westbourne and Emsworth.

‘It’s messing with a famous footpath and water voles – which I saw at the Westbourne end of the river last year.

‘They’re endangered.’

Hampshire Homes said it will listen to the community and incorporate feedback given into its planning application, which will be submitted to the council ‘in the coming weeks’.

Director of Hampshire Homes, Ian Wallace, said: ‘Residents were keen to engage with our team and turned out in numbers.

‘Of particular concern was the footpath, and we’ve been happy to take peoples’ thoughts on board.

‘We’re proposing the path is diverted slightly to ensure it’s kept within the green space. A portion of it is being moved out of the developable area to a small section of flood zone 2.

‘A large section of the remainder of the path sits within flood zones 2 and 3.

‘Discussions with Hampshire County Council’s Rights of Way team are continuing about the diversion, and correct measures will be taken in selecting the finished surfacing and maintenance of the footway.’