Hayling Island residents say they are battling to stop their homes becoming gridlocked – and are taking the battle to the authorities.
Members of the Save Our Island campaign group feel it has reached a point where the island’s infrastructure is unable to cope due to population growth and a lack of regulation on new housing.
Concerns centre around traffic congestion, sewage management and environmental impacts.
Much of the dispute focuses on what residents believe is Havant Borough Council’s lack of control over the construction of new housing. The authority insists development is only permitted if it is in line with an overarching local plan.
Dave Parham, from the group, said the area already cannot cope - but more homes are due to be built.
Mr Parham, who is part of the infrastructure advisory committee, said: ‘The current plan is to build another 564 houses with an estimated further 500 residential homes built on windfall sites – the development of properties such as former hotels and holiday parks which escape the planning regulations of new developments.
‘That is over 1000 new residential houses in the next five years on an area which already can’t cope.’
Residents feel the council is not being sufficiently stringent in controlling housing growth.
Mr Parham added: ‘Planning permission is always granted.
‘Developers will deliberately submit applications for 20 to 30 houses.
‘If you submit a proposal for 20 houses it is difficult to object and say it is unacceptable without infrastructure improvements.
‘However over time these pockets of development accumulate to hundreds of houses. No one at the council seems to be keeping a tally of all these developments.’
Ray Rowsell, a Hayling resident, added: ‘We have had years of blind eye planning.
‘I also blame the government as the council is under pressure to meet national housing targets.’
Increased housing on the island has resulted in the population almost doubling from 11,000 in 1981 to nearly 20,000 today.
Housing association member, Richard Platt, added: ‘We have reached a saturation point where the island’s infrastructure simply can’t cope.’
He added: ‘The population has grown massively yet we have the same infrastructure we had back in the 1950s.
PEOPLE driving on and off the island’s only bridge have said traffic is ‘horrific’.
Richard Platt, from Save Our Island, said: ‘Traffic congestion is horrific. The island is effectively a giant cul de sac with one access road.
‘I would never try to get off the island or even drive to the bottom during certain times of the day. Effectively you end up imprisoned.
Resident Ray Rowsell added: ‘During the working day it takes on average one hour, fifteen minutes to travel the 14 miles from the centre of the island to Portsmouth.’
The Save Our Island group has highlighted the council’s own figures as to the need for greater restriction on housing construction.
Group member Dave Parham added: ‘For every 180 houses constructed road traffic increases by an estimated two per cent, yet the council is already planning to construct over 500 new houses. This is despite the fact the A3023 is running at 98 percent capacity.’
Resident Martin Smith said: ‘My daughter works in Goodwood.
‘She left one evening recently and it took her two hours fifteen minutes to get home. I went off the island last week and the whole area had come to gridlock because a tanker had broken down across both sides of the road.
‘In the end people started to use the filling station as a diversion route. It was the only way on and off the island.’
One of the biggest concerns is the potential implications for emergency services.
Mr Rowsell, said: ‘I was a governor at South Central Ambulance Service for three years and on average we would have 14 ambulances a day going to the island.
‘If there is an issue with an incident on the singular bridge crossing onto the island then there is literally is no way to get emergency service vehicles on and off the island.’
Impact on the environment
A KEY concern for people living on the island is the impact on both the social and natural environment.
Ray Rowsell said: ‘There is a major issue with air quality from all the traffic which is exacerbated not just by the volume but the fact vehicles are moving on average five to 10 mph.
‘I know from speaking to people who have attended council meetings that if they are not happy with the readings then they will move the meter to a location less likely to be polluted.’
Residents have seen the tranquillity of island life replaced with a daily barrage of noise.
‘Despite being set back from the main road there is a constant noise,’ said Richard Platt.
Additionally residents also blame the volume of traffic for an increased risk of accidents and danger to people’s health and safety.
Sewage system ‘unable to cope’
AFTER two major sewage leaks in 2010 and 2014 and a ‘catastrophic’ release of effluent in September residents feel the current system is simply unable to cope.
Dave Parham said: ‘A year ago Southern Water gave a presentation to the Infrastructure Committee in which they assured us they had implemented a solution to resolve the sewage system problem.
‘This was evidently not the case because 12 months later the same thing happened.’
Residents feel the sewage infrastructure capacity is insufficient to meet the demand of a growing population.
‘After previous leaks my son’s house was flooded up to the floorboards by rising levels of effluent,’ said resident Ray Rowsell.
A Southern Water spokesman said a full review has to be implemented to ensure properties can be connected and sewage can be adequately disposed of when developments are considered.
Other areas of concern for residents include destruction of wildlife habitat and pressure on local services.
Mr Parham said: ‘There are only two primary schools and one secondary school on the island. If they keep building houses then these schools will not be able to cope without expansion.’
The Save Our Island Group feel authorities need to do more to address the current issues.
Mr Parham said: ‘The quality of life on the island is in a downward spiral.
‘The borough council need to do the job we pay them to do – to implement a sustainable infrastructure that is fit for purpose.’
The News contacted Havant Borough Council regarding the concerns of residents.
Hayling Island councillor Leah Turner, cabinet lead for communities, development and housing, said: ‘Development can only take place if it takes into account the infrastructure needs identified in the local plan.’
The publishing of the council’s regeneration strategy has given the islanders some hope with the suggested the construction of a second bridge.
At present, however, it is only a proposal and the target date would not be until 2036.