Councillors vote unanimously to approve regeneration plan for Havant

Langstone Bridge is currently the only route on and off the island - but the regeneration plan proposes another
Langstone Bridge is currently the only route on and off the island - but the regeneration plan proposes another

INTERVENTION was the word of the evening as councillors voted unanimously to approve a bold and challenging strategy that sets out the future vision for the borough of Havant.

Opportunity Havant, Havant Borough Council’s regeneration strategy for the area, is to be achieved by the year 2036 and last night’s council meeting heard a great deal of work has taken place to get the authority to this position.

Resident-based groups gave their views on the plan and all welcomed the council’s will, if necessary, to obtain land it needs to without consent of the owner to achieve its goals.

However, representatives said they expected more of a debate during the meeting, rather than concerns being aired and then left. 

Councillors agreed the strategy gives the authority the opportunity to start intervening.

Councillor Paul Buckley, for Waterloo, noted the council hasn’t been able to take action on a number of issues.

He said: ‘We don’t own derelict sites like West Street,’ but stated the new approach would enable the council to get past the 'absentee landlord' situation that plagues that street, like many others, where privately-owned, empty units are neglected.

Projects have been planned in key areas including Havant town centre, Waterlooville and Hayling Island, and have been split into three phases.

Cllr Tim Pike, in charge of regeneration for the authority, said: ‘We will come back with fully-costed proposals for each project. There will be financial challenges and we need to take calculated risks with all of the information available.

‘Individual projects are expected to cover their costs but there will be a cost to the council to implement them.’

The plans include the idea of a second route on and off Hayling Island.

Council leader, Cllr Michael Wilson, said: ‘I’ve been on the council for eight years and I concluded regeneration would not happen if left to the commercial market. It’s important we adopt an interventionist approach.

‘We’ve had plans for parts of Havant, like Market Parade, where groups of commercial developers were put together but it didn’t work and very often these schemes need a push from the local authority to make sure they work.’

The chair of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, Anne Skennerton, urged the council to review its vision for the island and said: ‘The island’s infrastructure report has still not been published and this is key to determining any future developments on the island. 

‘Does this not make the strategy premature in its Hayling vision?'

Many councillors made a point of pledging their support for the plan during the meeting.

Bob Comlay from the Havant Civic Society welcomed the intention to regenerate the area but said: ‘Had there been proper debate, issues raised in all three deputations should surely have been discussed, giving reassurance that our voices had been heard.’

He said details of the projects, currently confidential, must be made freely available to the public with confidential information redacted rather than the whole document, and that the first phase of the plan must include a tangible benefit in each regeneration area, in order to achieve buy-in from the community.