Havant MP comes under fire over state of house

ROW The house in West Street, Havant, surrounded by scaffolding. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (111297-3)
ROW The house in West Street, Havant, surrounded by scaffolding. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (111297-3)

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AN MP is at the centre of a row over the dilapidated state of a house that he owns.

Complaints have been made about a house belonging to Havant MP David Willetts in West Street, Havant, close to the town centre.

Scaffolding has been up outside the property for two years, taking up the narrow pavement and protruding into the road.

The 17th century building next to Mr Willetts’ constituency home was bought by the MP and his wife Sarah Butterfield in 2008 for £220,000. Permission to convert it into two, two-bedroom houses was granted in 2008.

It’s now in such a bad state of repair that there is a lobelia plant growing out of the roof. There have also been complaints that the scaffolding slows traffic.

The original plan by Mr Willetts when he bought the property four years ago was to turn it back into two homes.

Once permission was obtained from Havant Borough Council and as work was about to start surveyors found it was structurally unsafe and would have to be pulled down.

But residents say it has been left too long and something should be done about it.

Tim Dawes, a member of the newly-established Havant Civic Society, which campaigns to protect the heritage and character of the town, said: ‘I think it is beholden to David Willetts, who likes to demonstrate that he has the interests of the town at heart, to do something about it.

‘It’s in a conservation area so it’s covered by certain requirements.

‘David Willetts is a man of civic responsibility and a man of reasonable personal resources. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask him to try to do something about it. It’s been in a state of dilapidation for some time.’

Mr Willetts said: ‘We’ve gone back to the drawing board and put forward a proposal to knock down and replace it with something as similar as possible, a new building using the old bricks.

‘The council had some queries about our original application and we’re about to submit a revised application which we hope they will be satisfied with.

‘It’s taken a long time, I understand people’s frustrations but I have explained what the problem was and we’re going to submit a revised application very soon.’