HAVANT’S deputy council leader has hit back over fierce criticism of proposals to redevelop the town centre.
Councillor David Guest admitted that controversial plans which went on show last month were not viable at the moment – and were merely aimed at opening a debate about how to regenerate East Street.
It comes after the plans were criticised because they included options to demolish the historic White Hart pub, move Havant’s war memorial and redevelop the area behind East Street with housing.
But Cllr Guest said: ‘We have got to make these moves.
‘You can’t live in a festering, ancient environment that’s really going nowhere.
‘The people who shout the loudest don’t come forward with investment ideas – they just don’t.
‘It was just opening a debate. The negativity is exactly the reason why nothing gets done.’
Cllr Guest said the proposals were formulated after consultation with every landowner.
The council worked with developers Barratts to come up with the proposals.
But Cllr Guest said the current proposal was not viable for a developer as the investment required would not give them enough financial return.
He said the final plan, if it ever got to that stage, could be different.
He said: ‘Barratts advise local authorities right across the country.
‘They come to us with their regeneration expertise.
‘They have no vested interest and have no plans to build houses in the middle of Havant. People jump to conclusions and say this is a Barratts scheme – that’s absolute nonsense.
‘There are no deals.
‘Barratts don’t own any of the properties there at all.
‘As far as I know they have not got any plans to own property there.’
He added: ‘They are not viable yet because they are very early days proposals. They are ideas.’
He said the council would analyse feedback from the public consultation.
He added: ‘Everybody should calm down, stop the negativity and start to concentrate on coming forward with constructive arguments.
‘When they do that they have to consider everybody’s position.
‘The people that own these properties have not been able to do anything with them for a long time.’
Meanwhile, the campaign to save historic buildings continues as locals look to form Havant’s first Civic Society.