Empty building’s revamp could transform park

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (180470-1)

Portsmouth’s returned Lib Dem council leader wished well by ex-MP Mike Hancock

Have your say

A WELL-loved park could soon be brought back to life if an application for a new cafe is accepted.

Local businessman James Hadley hopes to transform the old park keeper’s cottage at Havant Park into a dazzling spot to grab a coffee.

The building on Park Road North, in Havant town centre, has lain empty for two years since the Citizen’s Advice Bureau moved out.

But with the help of his wife Laura, Mr Hadley wants to turn the site into a thriving community cafe and has submitted a planning application to Havant Borough Council.

The couple hope to refurbish the inside of the property, but the outside would remain largely unchanged, sympathetic to the building’s character.

Mr Hadley, 35, of Wendover Road, Havant, said: ‘I noticed the building a long time ago and as soon as I saw it go up for rent I was interested.

‘It’s been derelict for a long time, but it’s a really nice building.

‘Once we add some outside tables and plants and flowers it could completely transform that part of the park.

‘It could turn a good park into a great park, and create a buzzing community hub.’

Mr Hadley intends to sell hot drinks and snacks from the cafe, using locally-sourced produce, and create an outdoor eating area.

The application has already gained popular support from residents.

Deputy council leader Cllr David Guest said: ‘It’s delightful to see that someone has an interest in opening up the building because it’s dead now and I would like to see it brought back to life.

‘I have many fond memories of going to the park as a teenager to watch the cricket with a flask and some sandwiches. If there was a cafe there it would tie in nicely with the cricket and it would be a breath of fresh air to the area.’

Mr Hadley does not intend to install parking, or toilets as there are public toilets nearby in the south-east corner of the park.

Jennie Perry, committee member at Havant Cricket Club, which is based at the park, said: ‘It would be a great place for our younger members to go to get something to eat with their friends who have come down to watch them.

‘And our visiting teams’ players and family and friends would probably use it too.’

The application will go to the council’s planning committee next month.