Landowner labels plans to build housing on Southwick Park as ‘awful’

Southwick House
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  • Landowner, whose family used to own Southwick Park, criticises decision to sell it for housing
  • He says family was made a promise that they would be offered chance to buy it back
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PROPOSALS to build housing in Southwick Park have been criticised as being ‘awful’.

Mark Thistlethwayte, whose family used to own Southwick House in the estate near Fareham has hit out at an announcement from the Ministry of Defence – the house’s current owners – that it would sell the land to raise funds and to build homes.

The idea of the Government selling it to the highest bidder is fairly awful and I hope that will not be the case.

Mark Thistlethwayte

The MoD compulsorily purchased the site in 1950, after taking it over in 1941 during the Second World War and it was the location where the D-Day landings were planned. A D-Day map still hangs on the wall there.

According to Mr Thistlethwayte, the MoD made a promise to his family that if it ever decided to sell the site, it would offer the former landowners the chance to buy it back.

He said: ‘The idea of the government selling it to the highest bidder is fairly awful and I hope that will not be the case.

‘I hope the whole thing is a misunderstanding, as over the years, we were repeatedly told that the site would only be sold if it was not needed in the interest of the nation’s defence.

‘We thought that to still be the case. I understand that the government needs to find space for homes but we are completely opposed to housing going there.’

Mr Thistlethwayte said that if his family manage to reacquire the site, a few options they are considering are to turn it into a sports centre, tennis academy or potentially an academic campus.

The family have been told that to buy it back, they will need to pay the market price for it.

In 1950, the MoD paid a price of £40,000 for the site (£1.4m in today’s money).

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said: ‘The MoD is determined to make use of its estates, which includes releasing sites that are no longer required in order to fund world-class equipment and facilities for our armed forces.

‘Under certain circumstances, departments are required to offer back surplus land to its original owners but it is too early to if those rules apply.’