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.”

Builders eye up Bypass site

Before work has even started on the Stubbington Bypass, the developers are circling…

Foreman Homes Ltd have asked Fareham Council for an Environmental Impact Assessment screening opinion ahead of a potential application to build 500+ homes on either side of the bypass at Titchfield Road.

(See P/20/0005/EA in this week’s list of planning and other applications.)

This is NOT a planning application, but it’s a request for information that developers often seek to assess their chances of getting permission to build.

Cllr Jim Forrest says: “When residents were campaigning for a by-pass a few years ago, I warned at a CAT meeting ‘Be careful what you wish for’.

I said that while reduction in through treafic would help households in Titchfield Road and Gosport Road in the short term, it carried the risk that builders would seize on the new road as an opportunity for infill development.

“This screening request is extremely worrying for Stubbington.”

Axe poised over libraries

Make sure you take part in Hampshire’s consultation on the future of libraries – They’re proposing to close 14 of the 42 libraries across the county.

Cutting libraries destroys communities, says Jim Forrest

Thankfully, Stubbington Library is not earmarked for closure. But Lee-on-the-Solent Library is, so we can expect even more pressure on Stubbington’s car parks as readers from Lee have to travel to get their books.
The consultation runs until March 18. You can take part online, and download an information pack here.

Christmas crunch

Stubbington has seen some rather crunchy driving over the holiday period, judging by the damage to the safety barrier outside the War Memorial, and the traffic island outside the Red Lion.

Jimmy Roberts of the Ad Lib Focus team has asked Hampshire County Council if they have plans to replace the damaged bollard and railing.

End to austerity? Not here

Hampshire County Council is proposing another £80million of cuts in its so-called Transformation to 2021. The Tory Government tell us austerity is supposed to be over – measures like these from the Tory County Council tell us it’s not!
• £1.76 million cuts to libraries – which could mean some whole library closures, or day closures at many other libraries
• A whole range of further cuts to Home to School Transport.
• £596,000 reduction to the Short Breaks for Disabled Children programme
• £8.2 million of waste costs to be dumped onto district councils
• £1 million from introducing charging for wood disposal at Household Waste REcycling Centgres
• Another £500,000 saving from switching off street lights or further dimming of them
• An astonishing £43.1million cut to the Adult Care Services budget, when the need is increasing rapidly

Shelter spruce-up

Staff at Fareham Council acted quickly when we asked for this area round the bus shelter at Gosport Road / Harold Road to be strimmed.

Weeds were spilling into the shelter from the verge

The Grounds chief undertook to find out why it was unmanaged. A week later, the work was done, and it’s once more an attractive refuge for the many people who use it.