Preserving our wildlife

Bob Seymour explores concerns about the over-exploitation of the shellfish on the Solent shore.

Since 2010 the Solent fishery has been declassified for commercial activity because water quality has been considered unsafe. 
From 2014 the native oyster fishery for the whole of the Solent was closed because of the collapse in the population.


Many of us in the area will have enjoyed collecting a few Cockles for our families.
 But it’s a totally different vision to see large numbers of people go out on the shingle with large bags and buckets and sweep the area clean of everything that is alive.


Police believe some of the people involved may be controlled by gang-masters in a version of modern day slavery. We’d clearly wish to stamp out such inhuman exploitation.


Some legislation already exists to help prevent over-exploitation of the food source, through the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations of 2006.


But what is really required is a long term strategy to protect the resource this sea-life represents. 
Seabird numbers are in decline, largely because of a noticeable reduction in food supply.


One way to halt that decline might be some form of ban on shellfish and bait digging along our foreshore between the Hamble river and Lee beach. 


Closed seasons, between March 1 and October 31, already exist for shellfish in the Portsmouth area.
 A Special Nature Conservation order has been in place for many years in Fareham creek prohibiting commercial bait digging.


Crofton Lib Dems are studying what measures might be possible and we’ll report back.

Preserving Stubbington’s “hamlet”

Fareham Council’s planning committee have backed refusal of two planning applications for a total of 190 houses off Newgate Lane.

The site, between the old Newgate Lane and the new relief road, is part of Fareham’s Strategic Gap.

Councillor Jim Forrest and several residents made deputations calling on the committee to refuse the sites.

Jim argued that they would destroy the “country hamlet” atmosphere of Peel Common – the long-estblished community of Newgate Lane, Albert Road and Woodcote Lane.

You can read Jim’s deputation here.

The developers had already appealed because of delays in bringing the plans before the committee, and they will be decided by a Government inspector.

But the committee’s view gives hope that the inspector will also refuse them.

Newgate Lane deputation

Either or both of these two developments would have serious implications both for my constituents in Stubbington, and for the borough as a whole.

Residents in Newgate Lane, Albert Road and Woodcote Lane endured decades of misery as a quiet country road became a rat-run, with non-stop queues of traffic on their doorsteps at all hours of the day.

The creation of Newgate Lane East brought respite, restoring Peel Common as a quiet hamlet where residents no longer needed to fear constantly for their children’s safety.

Within months, they have the prospect of seeing that tranquillity snatched away. Nearly 200 homes will mean hundreds of cars once more disgorging onto Newgate Lane. And the difficult exit to Newgate Lane east, across a 40mph traffic flow, will see a tripling in pressure.

As a ward councillor I’d be bitterly disappointed to see my constituents in Peel Common lose the haven they have only just regained.

As a Fareham councillor, my greatest concern is to see protection for the Strategic Gaps which prevent Fareham’s distinctive communities from merging into one giant urban sprawl.

We are in the middle of examining the Local Plan. If the proposals of the 2017 Draft Plan are accepted as part of that, we could see up to 475 new homes on the land east of the new road. Taken with the proposals in front of us today, that would mean a total of around 650 new homes filling the gap between Bridgemary and Peel Common. That would be a body blow to the concept of preventing coalescence of urban areas.

As well as the core benefit of physical separation, recent rulings by Inspectors have focussed on the concept of “valued landscape”. Peel Common has recently been given added value. A vista has been opened up of tree-lined paddocks, a sensitively restored farmhouse and cottages going back to Victorian times and beyond,

And I think the idea of “valued landscape” is about more than prettiness. It’s about a feeling of place. As you journey between Fareham and Stubbington or Lee, there’s a sense of passing from an urban landscape, through the countryside, to a seaside town. The Strategic Gaps are an asset to all of us in the Fareham-Gosport peninsula, and these proposals for Newgate Lane would put it seriously at risk.

I’ve focussed on two areas where these proposals conflict with our adopted Core Strategy. The officers’ recommendation cites 14.

Ir would be a mistake to risk irreversible damage to strategic gaps because of panic over the housing land supply figures. The projections of housing need we are working on were drawn up before the Covid pandemic. It will be many months before the results of the economic upheaval can be assessed. Employment patterns, incomes, transport usage are all likely to be altered.

While that assessment is being made, I urge members of the committee to base your decision on the sound planning principles that have served Fareham well till now.

Cllr Jim Forrest

Benches of remembrance

Fareham Council has approved the installation of a bench at Daedalus Common to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day (August 15).

It will be a similar design to the VE Day bench already installed.

Stubbington Councillor Jim Forrest passed on a request from residents for a VJ bench which came after he posted photos of the VE bench on Stubbington Matters.

At the online meeting where Executive Member for Leisure Cllr Sue Bell approved the new bench, Jim commented:

“I’m sure my constituents will be delighted that Daedalus Common will have permanent reminders that we have enjoyed 75 years of peace since the end of the Second World War.

“The Daedalus Naval air base made a huge contribution to the defence of Britain and the preparation and execution of operations which resulted in the liberation of Europe. And many Service men and women who were trained or stationed there went on to take part in the equally important struggle against tyranny in the Far East.

“It’s particularly pleasing for the Stubbington Community that those reminders will be in the public open space. For almost a century all of  Daedalus was a restricted area, and parts of the airfield understandably remain so. The creation of Daedalus Common is a huge contribution to residents’ freedom to enjoy the outdoors, and the benches will give them welcome places for peaceful contemplation within it.”

Jim also praised the designers for their innovative “looking both ways” concept.

“It can either offer a small group of people a better space for conversation than a normal bench , or enable more individuals to share it.”

…Two wheels better?

One consequence of the Coronavirus lockdown has been a big increase in both cycling and cycle sales.

For now, this is mostly for exercise, but as businesses and factories re-open, we can expect an increase in people cycling to work or school, either because they find they prefer it to the car for shortish journeys or because of limits on the capacity of trains and buses .

The Government has announced funding to make more safe cycling routes available, and many councils are already proceeding with plans. We hope Fareham in partnership with Hampshbire County Council will follow suit.

In the meantime, we request cyclists to respect the rights of other road users. Most people cycle safely and considerately, but a thoughtless minority don’t give pedestrians enough space to practice social distancing on pavements or share use pathways,, or fail to give warning of their approach.

No safe cycling option – a rutted track, a pedestrian promenade, or a busy, winding road

This can be a particular problem on the Salterns promenade in Hill Head, where Fareham Council has been unable to complete the gravel cycle track from Seafarers Sailing Club to Monks Hill because of land ownership issues.

Our photo (from archive, before social distancing) shows the rutted track cyclists have to use for the final stretch to avoid straying onto the footway – a sad feature on what is part of a nationally recognised cycle route.

Perhaps when the Stubbington bypass is complete the County Council should consider closing Salterns Road as a through route for vehicles, making it safe for cyclists. At present many drivers use it as a rat-run between Gosport and the A27, but if the bypass does the job it’s supposed to, there should be no need for that any more.

Taking vehicles off that road would also make it much safer for families walking to the beach through Seafield Park to cross Salterns Lane safely.

A treasure worth preserving

Bob Seymour of the Focus Team offers these thoughts on Hill Head life:

Our Hill Head community has much diversity in its combination of modern estate and earlier housing with the occasional architectural gem. It is bordered on two sides by outstanding natural features, the Titchfield Haven and the Solent.

We are really quite fortunate to benefit from these amenities but we must always be aware of the risks modern life presents. The few areas of green space that remain seem constantly under threat of further development.

The Solent has a nationally important range of natural life both on its fringes and beneath the waves. The Hampshire Wildlife Trust is running a four year project to raise awareness of just how precious and fragile this life is and how our 21st century way of living puts this living wonder at risk.

We still have too much polluted water draining into the Solent, especially with Nitrates from both agriculture and our very own community.
Over exploitation of the shellfish from both the shore and from our small fishing fleet also represents a risk to the long term survival of what we have left. Protective measures are both under consideration and in effect, most recently recognition of the importance of the Tern populations. These small seabirds with a nature similar to Swallows rely on the sanctuary of the Haven for breeding and the life in the Solent for food.

And of course the Solent is unrivalled for its sailing opportunities, with our two sailing clubs providing first class facilities and especially opportunities for all our youngsters to experience sailing alongside the world class boats seen at Cowes every year.
Our community is served well by roads, schools and the nearby commerce in the village of Stubbington. Threats are always present though; perhaps inappropriate traffic speed, overuse of minor roads, antisocial littering of fast food containers amongst them.
What can we do to protect our fortunate community? I would love to see:
* The Old Street fields gifted to the Titchfield Haven for perpetual protection;
* A height restriction placed on the Meon/Posbrook lane and more encouragement for traffic to not use this as a commute into and out of Gosport;
* More of our residential streets recognised as safer with encouragement to drivers to limit to 20 mph;
* Much more emphasis on supporting the conservation and protection initiatives in the Solent. – between 1940 and 1945 there was a ban on commercial fishing in the Solent and the sea life greatly prospered!

Gap in the argument

Most discussion af the CAT Meeting at Holy Rood Church on February 10 centred on the concept of a Strategic Growth Area – the circumstances and conditions under which housing might be permitted in the Strategic Gap between Stubbington and Fareham.
Briefly. Fareham is not proposing to allow building in the Strategic Gap to meet its share of regional housing targets set by the Government; but it might be required do do so if neighbouring councils can’t meet their shares.
But residents were given a misleading impression of the nature of the Strategic Gap itself, as proposed in Fareham Today, and the fuller Draft Local Plan Supplement 2020 which is available on the Council Website.
The Council Leader stated that no permissions for housing had been given in the Strategic Gap. But he failed to mention that the Gap described in the draft 2020 Local Plan is already smaller than that under the existing Local Plan, adopted in 2015.
In October 2017, Fareham’s Executive approved a a new draft plan, which moved the boundary of the Strategic Gap westwards, allowing the provision of up to 475 homes between the Borough boundary and the newly-built Newgate Lane South.

Crofton Lib Dems at the proposed Newgate Lane site

The draft should have been put to the Council for endorsement after a 6-week consultation period. But in November 2017 the Government consulted local councils on a new planning framework, altering the rules for provision of new housing.
Fareham’s draft plan was rendered out of date, so instead of adopting it, the December 2017 meeting of the Council adopted a Corporate Strategy including the preparation of a new local plan.
That preparation has been going on ever since, resulting in the 2020 Draft Plan which residents are now being consulted on.
So the proposed reduced Strategic Gap which we are now being asked to approve, is based on a draft plan which was never fully implemented.
Stubbington Councilllor Jim Forrest is having regular briefings from Council officers about the 2020 Draft Plan.
Jim says: “I’m determined to protect the Strategic Gap, which is vital to preserve the village character of Stubbington and Hill Head, and the country town character of Fareham as a whole.
“And I’ll assert that the proposed 475 homes alongside Newgate Lane should still be up for debate rather than treated as a done deal.”

Keep a date with us

Our popular Calendar and list of useful phone numbers was delivered with out recent newsletter.

If you missed it and would like a copy to keep by your phone, contact Councillor Jim Forrest