Havant council withdraws plan amid fears of free-for-all for housebuilders in the borough

Havant Borough Council has supported withdrawing its local plan amid fears it will lead to 'controversial' housing developments in the borough.

By Toby Paine
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 4:55 am
Havant's local plan has been withdrawn
Havant's local plan has been withdrawn

The council’s local plan was challenged by government inspectors over the deliverability of housing and whether the methods of consulting the public were legally compliant.

The council opposed the inspector's initial feedback in November, believing that resubmitting a local plan would prolong the process and leave the borough open to speculative development as the council is behind on its housing targets.

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The council has drawn up a housing delivery action plan which sets out measures and proposed development sites to address the housing shortfall.

The action plan states that Southleigh, between Denvilles and Emsworth is 'capable of providing around 2,100 dwellings' despite the inspector's suggestion of removing 400 homes from the anticipated supply.

The council agrees in principle with 721 homes built in Havant town centre despite the inspectors stating 450 would be a more reasonable estimate.

In last night's planning policy committee, Councillor Richard Kennett stated the council should challenge ‘unachievable’ housing targets.

‘Whilst the inspectors concluded that our plan was not sound they did give a blueprint on how to correct this,’ he said.

‘It is regrettable that rather than following this we are still promoting highly controversial sites in order to try and meet unattainable targets at the expense of the environment and the wishes of our residents.

‘We need to be lobbying with our neighbouring and nearby local authorities to make a strong case that the housing targets are unachievable and unrealistic, and should be reduced.’

In the inspector’s interim findings report, it states if the council cannot meet its housing needs ‘it would need to discuss this matter with its neighbours’ and if they were unable to help it should provide evidence to show Havant ‘cannot sustainably meet its housing needs.’

Councillor Alex Rennie said throughout the examination the council has been committed to ensuring it has a sound local plan.

‘From the examination stage onwards, we have listened to the inspector and have been intending to make the changes required to ensure the local plan is compliant,’ he said.

‘While we had hoped to make those changes through a suspension, we accept the inspectors’ recommendation to withdraw.

‘We hope to use this as an opportunity to bring back a better Local Plan, taking into account our newly adopted Climate Change and Environment Strategy.

‘We look forward to engaging with residents when our revised Local Plan goes out to consultation.’