Property experts welcome news that house building in Hampshire can start again after agreement in nitrates ruling

WORK to offset nitrates and allow house building in the Solent to start up again after a year-long block has been welcomed by property experts.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 4:28 pm
Ian Knight, of Knight Architectural Design, based in Port Solent

Permission for new developments at Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant and East Hampshire councils has been on hold since March 2019 when Natural England warned of damage to wildlife caused by nitrates.

However, an agreement between various agencies was made this week. It will see the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust rewild a farm on the Isle of Wight – offsetting damage from new homes.

This one farm provides enough nitrate credits for Fareham Borough Council to allow 400 homes across various sites.

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Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Replicating this on a larger scale could eventually lead to permissions for up to 12,000 homes being granted.

Ian Knight of Knight Architectural Design, based in Port Solent and speaking on behalf of the Portsmouth Property Association, welcomed the news.

He said: ‘Many PPA members will welcome working with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

‘It won’t simply mean purchasing farmland to take out of nitrate use - but also the creation of wetland and SANGS (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) - and hopefully the credits system will be pro-rata to each dwelling’s nitrate output, to encourage other water saving measures.’

Picture: PA Wire

He said he hoped local authorities would now challenge the root cause.

‘Exceptionally high nitrate levels in drinking water supplied locally and reaching our harbours, often through leakage, needs urgently addressing,’ he added.

‘It is unfair to block new developments rather than resolve either the source or current usage.’

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Steve Carrington, planning director at Foreman Homes in Park Gate, also welcomed the news.

He said: ‘We, unlike many others, are fortunate enough to remain strong, robust, and busy, in this tricky time.

‘We very much welcome the intervention of Suella Braverman MP, as Whitehall's help is essential for those companies that are smaller than ours.’

The news comes just as the local property market sees a surge in house-hunters.

Figures from website Zoopla show that searches for houses in Portsmouth and Southampton have risen, with searches on its site between May 12 and May 19 up by 42 per cent in Portsmouth and 46 per cent for Southampton.