A HIGH-rise development in the centre of a town is just too high, conservationists have said.
An inspector at government body Historic England said the 13-storey tower planned next to Havant Railway Station is too high for Havant.
A letter sent to Havant Borough Council said the proposed development is ‘totally out of character’ with nearby Victorian buildings, which are part of St Faith’s Conservation Area.
It comes as plans have been submitted for the first phase of a £40m revamp of Market Parade, a run-down area that has been crying out for investment for decades. The plans have attracted mixed views.
Hampshire police have raised concerns that the development of 130 flats only has 58 car parking spaces and it will put further pressure on parking in Havant.
Marion Brinton, inspector of historic buildings, said: ‘This proposal is for a large-scale building on the west side of North Street and which would vary in height from five to 13 storeys. This would be completely out of character with the conservation area and demonstrates no regard for the context of the site, part of which is protected for its special architectural and historic interest.’
She added it would ‘dramatically overshadow’ buildings in North Street.
In a letter to the council, Robert Rivers, of North Street, said: ‘The development could prove to be eyesore over the whole of the surrounding area.’
Another resident, K Gilbert, wrote: ‘While the Market Parade area is in need of refurbishment, we feel that a huge block of flats in isolation will not improve matters.’
But housing officer Julie Watson-Cowen supported the development.
She said: ‘Demand for affordable housing continues to rise in the Havant area.
‘Currently there are 2,276 households registered on Hampshire Home Choice seeking accommodation in our area. Of these over half are waiting for a one-bedroom home while 728 are waiting for two bedrooms.’
The ground floor would be new commercial space, while longer-term plans include a parkside development of restaurants.
A planning report prepared by the developer says: ‘The proposals of a tall building reaching up to 13 storeys in height is considered acceptable given the close proximity to sustainable transport modes and the town centre location.’
The council will make a final decision at a later date.