Big-name organisations object to plan for 780 homes off major Waterlooville road amid fears for ecology

HIGH-PROFILE objections have been lodged over plans to build 780 homes on land used by wintering Brent geese and curlews near Havant and South Downs College.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 5:34 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:35 pm

Residents and environmentalists have rallied against the 31-hectare plan at Campdown, a greenfield site east of College Road in Purbrook.

The plot comes under the Chichester and Langstone Harbours Special Protection Area and welcomes more than 430 birds over winter months.

One species, the Eurasian curlew, is recognised as being near-threatened and objectors fear its future could be at risk under the plan.

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An aerial view of the Campdown site earmarked for 780 homes by Persimmon.

Housebuilder Persimmon's proposal suggests the displaced birds could instead use a 1.3-hectare area at Broadmarsh Coastal Park.

But Natural England, which has objected to the plan, expressed ‘serious concerns' and said there are ‘no records’ of curlews ever using the site.

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It said: ‘We strongly recommend robust evidence is provided to support whether the proposed offsetting site can replicate and enhance the ecological function of the existing site.’

A curlew. Picture: Andrew Parker

The RSPB also objected to the application, citing ‘direct loss of large areas of SPA supporting habitat’ and ‘inadequate’ mitigation.

Meanwhile concerns of a ‘significant’ risk to Havant’s groundwater as a result of the build have been flagged up by Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency, which have both objected to the plan.

Historian Ann Buckley, co-ordinator of the Havant Borough Residents' Alliance, said: ‘Campdown is a unique landscape area in the borough, rich in heritage and ecology.

‘The council should be looking at ways of protecting and enhancing Campdown rather than large-scale housing development.

A pair of Brent geese flying Picture: Ian Cameron-Reid

‘Havant Borough Residents' Alliance said this when the site was put into the Housing Statement three years ago, and we have been proven right as the comments have come in from a range of specialists stating strong grounds for refusal.’

The application proposes a new road off College Road and includes a nursery, a shop, parking and public open space.

A spokeswoman for Persimmon said the development, one of the largest in Havant Borough Council's local plan, would bring ‘significant’ economic investment.

‘Following a thorough environmental assessment, we welcomed input from Natural England and Hampshire Ecology on our proposals to improve existing wildlife habitat through the provision of mitigation land and continue to work with these groups to achieve a satisfactory outcome,' she said.

‘We are aware of concerns raised by Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency regarding surface water and technical investigations are ongoing to address these issues.’

The application is open to public comments until Thursday, February 13 at https://bit.ly/387ip5R