Traders back calls for action over town centre’s derelict buildings

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TRADERS have backed calls for something to be done about the derelict buildings in a town centre – saying the state of the streets are having a negative effect on their businesses.

East Street and West Street in Havant’s town centre have been the subject of scrutiny for some time, due to their numbers of empty and dilapidated buildings.

Many of the sites have been granted planning permission by Havant Borough Council to be demolished and rebuilt as shops and flats, but no movements have been made.

And one trader, with a pharmacy on West Street, has said developers should be penalised if they did not take action within a certain amount of time.

‘The streets are losing their vibrancy,’ said Keith Seston, who owns Davies Pharmacy on West Street.

‘I took over my 140-year-old family business in 2013, and I’ve seen general deterioration on the streets since then, but going back 30-40 years ago the area was a much more vibrant place.

‘The hoardings outside the derelict site on West Street aren’t very attractive.

‘I do think developers should be penalised if they get planning permission to build something and don’t act within a certain time.’

Keith renovated his pharmacy, the flats above it and the shop attached to it a few years back.

He added: ‘Over the years Havant Borough Council has been constrained by core government policy but English towns have long been the centres of communities and we ought to be doing everything we can to maintain them.’

The derelict sites on the streets are not owned by the council, but by private landowners. The News reported last week that although 9 and 11 East Street had separate planning permissions granted to them, both units were now up for sale along with 13 East Street for £1.3m.

Lizzie Eacott owns knitting supply shop My Yarnery, on nearby South Street, with her sister-in-law.

The 52-year-old said: ‘South Street is quite nice, but East Street is totally run-down, and I think it’s having a negative effect on us small businesses in the area.

‘If the empty spaces were used the whole place would have more to offer people.

‘It looks like a ghost town so if people are passing they don’t want to stick around or stop because it’s so empty.’

Lizzie grew up in Havant and added: ‘The developers should move forward, some of the buildings have been empty for quite some time.’

The state of the streets was discussed at a recent Havant Civic Society meeting, and committee member Ann Buckley is fighting to get the streets restored.

He said: ‘At a time when affordable new homes are needed, there seems to be little progress on the many brownfield sites in the St Faith’s ward, which have been given consent for dozens of homes.

‘Meanwhile, developers are putting in plans for the few greenfield sites left in our Borough.’