Fears lagoon could become ‘stagnant pond’

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DINERS hoping to enjoy some al fresco food and drink at a proposed new restaurant could be left overlooking ‘a stagnant pond’, planners have warned.

Controversial plans to build a replica tidal mill on the Cams Hall estate in Portchester, which will function as a restaurant, were approved by Fareham’s planning committee in 2010 against the recommendations of council officers.

As a result, the developer Strand Harbour was left with a list of more than 20 conditions to satisfy before building work could begin – including work creating a lagoon to give the impression the building is sitting over water.

The original plans were for a new ‘intertidal basin’ to be dug out on the edge of Fareham Quay, which runs around the estate. But concerns have been raised that if this was not designed to drain properly, the water could become stagnant and silted up.

Brenda Clapperton, of the Fareham Society, said: ‘It’s a faux lagoon and it’s going to be rather unpleasant in the end.

‘The society is sceptical of the value of this lagoon.

‘The water will become stagnant. It’s an artificial creation and it is going to need long-term management.’

Cllr Peter Davies said: ‘It seems we are trying to rearrange the environment to fit in with a nice place to eat. I’m not sure that’s our place.

‘I don’t like it at all. It’s basically a cosmetic thing to try and make a few seats in the restaurant look better and it could end up a stagnant pond.’

But the committee cannot reject the plans for the lagoon outright, as they were accepted as part of the 2010 permission.

The original mill sat on a different part of the estate and was demolished in the 1920s.

Planning agent Fraser Whyte said: ‘I want to give an assurance that as with everything else we have built at Cams in the past 20 years, the quality and materials will not be compromised.’

The committee agreed it wanted to call officers from Natural England and the Environment Agency and the item was deferred to its next meeting.

Concerned residents have tried to challenge the plans on legal grounds, but this has been rejected by the council’s solicitor.

Greg Lismore, of Swan Quay in Fareham, said: ‘There are some serious questions in the public mind that the legal advice being offered to the committee continues to be flawed. Some councillors clearly have a grasp of the issues, some clearly do not.’