‘CLEAN up our derelict town centre’ – that’s what concerned residents had to say about the future of an area in need of ‘tender, loving care’.
More than 80 locals, including traders and members of associations, met to discuss the state of Havant’s town centre at a meeting organised by the Havant Civic Society.
East Street and West Street, which both fall into the St Faith’s Conservation Area, have a number of empty buildings and derelict sites – many of which have had planning permission to be turned into shops and flats for some time.
Residents have said developers need to act, but as a number of East Street units are now up for sale as part of a £1.3m project, movement has been welcomed.
Ann Buckley, a civic society committee member, said: ‘Havant’s town centre is ruined by so many derelict sites and the run-down state of Market Parade.
‘Listed buildings are falling into disrepair, many of them in the conservation area. Some buildings on East Street and West Street have been empty for years. Developers have planning permission to do something with them, but haven’t.
‘Havant town has great potential and we want our ward councillors to concentrate on the area and make it vibrant.
‘One resident asked at the meeting “what’s the point of a conservation area, if the area is not conserved?”.’
In 2010 Havant Borough Council granted permission for the shops and flats at 44-54 West Street to be demolished, and for a three-storey building with shops and flats to go in its place, but nothing has been built.
Last year permission was granted for 9 East Street to be demolished and replaced with 10 flats, and 11 East Street to be demolished and replaced with six town houses.
The units remain untouched but are now up for sale along with 13 East Street, a four-bedroom house, for £1.3m.
Councillors were present, along with head of planning David Hayward, who gave a presentation about the council’s Draft Local Plan 2036.
When asked what the council can do to help, Jackie Branson, ward councillor for St Faith’s, said: ‘Once planning permission is granted the council can’t intervene. It can push and facilitate, but land owners and developers have to make the movement. The council doesn’t own the land or buildings.’
Ray Cobbett, chair of the Havant branch of Friends of the Earth, was at the meeting. He said: ‘There are finally encouraging signs of activity. The area’s been in need of tender, loving care for some time.’