Residents vow to keep fighting over former industrial estate

An artist's impression of what the former BAE Systems site could look like
An artist's impression of what the former BAE Systems site could look like
Left to right - Michael DiBella - Dave Finch and Aaron Park

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RESIDENTS have vowed to keep up the fight for leisure facilities when a former industrial estate is redeveloped – and say they are disappointed with what is currently planned.

New proposals are set to be unveiled for the former BAE Systems site in Elettra Avenue, Waterlooville.

People living in the area have been campaigning for years for a cinema and bowling avenue so they do not have to travel to Gunwharf Quays or Port Solent.

But after developer Hargreaves said it would hold a development consultation forum this month to discuss the scheme, it appears residents’ pleas are falling on deaf ears.

Rough drawings of the plans show space for shops, a a restaurant and a potential garden centre, with one unit earmarked for leisure.

David Crichton, former chairman of the Waterlooville Community Forum, is disappointed.

He said: ‘Hargreaves has produced two options in its plans for the remainder of the site, but the problem is that, in each, only one small unit is identified for leisure facilities.

‘At the consultation questions will be asked as to why the developer’s original proposal to provide a wider range of such facilities – which was met with universal local approval – appears to have been dropped.

‘Plans to build a cinema and bowling alley at the site were submitted to Havant Borough Council in 2013, and that’s what residents still want.

‘With a number of new housing developments taking shape in Waterlooville, leisure is something the area desperately needs – especially since the closure of the bowling facilities at Bedhampton and Fareham.’

‘It will be good to find out what the developer’s thoughts are and what exactly the plans entail.

‘But there will be widepread disappointment if the idea of providing comprehensive leisure facilities for the people of Waterlooville have been dumped.’

At present, the site is home to a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant and a Lidl food store, which is being built.

Hargreaves said it has a commitment to ensuring the site is put back into use as quickly as possible.

In 2013 the council approved redevelopment plans for the site to include business units, a car showroom, a drive-thru restaurant and a hotel and restaurant.

But following a marketing campaign, Hargreaves said it found demand for the business units wasn’t there and so altered the plans.

The developer then proposed to build an eight-screen cinema and 20-lane tenpin bowling complex, but those plans were withdrawn.

Councillor Tim Pike, cabinet lead for economy and infrastructure projects, said: ‘The development consultation forum is an opportunity for residents to find out more about the proposals, and give feedback before any plan is submitted.’

Representatives from Hargreaves and planning consultants Rapleys LLP will lead the forum at Havant Borough Council’s Public Service Plaza, on August 22. The meeting will run from 6pm-8pm, but doors will be open from 5.30pm so residents can view a display of the plans.

Visit havant.gov.uk/planning-and-environment/development-consultation-forums to see the proposals.