The ‘Reports’ topic includes copies of agreed village plans that have now been superseded, but show a progression of ideas and issues. They comprise the ‘Village Design Statement’ of 2000, the ‘Parish Plan’ of 2008, the accompanying Supporting Data from the village survey and the Local Landscape Character Assessment 2012. Rowlands Castle was designated as a Conservation Area in December 1976.
They were sponsored by the Rowlands Castle Parish Council, drafted by groups of volunteers, and submitted, approved or adopted by the Parish Council before submission to the East Hampshire District Council. For a time, they provided ‘supplementary planning guidance’ but then became outdated. These plans are not statutory, therefore not enforceable.
Currently, following passage of national legislation at the time of writing, the Parish Council has commissioned a Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to draft a Neighbourhood Plan for the civil parish. The plan must accord with the Local Plan approved by EHDC. The Plan, when subject to a planning inspectors report and approved by a ballot of residents, will become legally enforceable.
Have your say on the Rowlands Castle Neighbourhood Plan
By Ian Young, chairman of Rowlands Castle Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
A NEIGHBOURHOOD Plan is a means for local residents to have a say in the future of the place in which they live – what they like about it, what they would like to conserve, and how they would like it to be in the future.
Following consultations with and the support of residents in 2017, Rowlands Castle Parish Council decided to proceed with production of a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish of Rowlands Castle, and formed a steering group to develop it.
Since then, this group of 10 residents has brought a wide range of experience and skills to development of the plan, consulting residents over its content, and continuing despite the restrictions of the pandemic. As for all Neighbourhood Plans, when adopted, it will be a statutory document and the planning authorities will have to take it into account when making any decisions on planning applications in the parish.
Together with the East Hampshire District Council and South Downs National Park Authority Local Plans, the Rowlands Castle Parish Neighbourhood Plan will form the Development Plan for the parish. The Steering Group carried out a housing survey sent to all residents in the parish towards the end of 2018 and was pleased to receive a good response.
This has allowed the group to develop draft policies for the plan, taking account of other evidence and inputs, and benefitting from the very good planning documents previously produced for Rowlands Castle – a Village Design Statement, a Parish Plan and a Landscape Character Assessment. A Settlement Character Assessment has been produced describing the distinctive characteristics of different built areas in the parish as a reference for future planning, and is available for viewing on the parish council website.
Over recent months, the group has been holding online consultations with parish organisations and businesses and is grateful for the very helpful comments in support of development of the plan. As a next step, as part of the consultations, the group invites all residents of Rowlands Castle parish and those who run local businesses in the parish, to participate in a short online survey covering what they value, wish to conserve, and might wish to see developed in Rowlands Castle Parish in the future.
The survey includes questions for residents, questions for younger people (below age 18), and questions for businesses in the parish. It is worth noting that the plan can only deal with land use and not highways or traffic, but where there are matters outside of the parameters of the plan, these will, so far as is practicable and possible, still be registered as having been raised.
Where previous inputs have been provided on the various topics, these have been noted and considered, but the group would welcome confirmation of previous inputs or any further comment. Access to complete the questionnaire will be as advertised on the Rowlands Castle Parish Council website and Facebook page, and via Rowlands Castle Grapevine messaging, until mid-July.
This is a vital part of developing the Neighbourhood Plan and we very much hope that residents of Rowlands Castle parish and local businesses will find the time to complete the questionnaire, also encouraging young people (below Age 18) to provide answers, and to offer their views on the wide range of important topics it covers.
The results of the questionnaire will be analysed and then considered for incorporation into the policies for the Rowlands Castle Neighbourhood Plan, which will influence the way the parish develops in the next 15 years. There will be further formal consultation on the content of the Neighbourhood Plan before it goes for examination and then eventually goes for adoption by referendum of parish residents.
Editorial: this article appeared in the Emsworth Border Times, Issue 9, of June 2021, under authorship of Ian Young, chairman of the Steering Group
Projects includes activities of local significance, either completed or still under way, including the local ‘Hampshire Villages Initiative’ of the County Council, as announced by some village ‘gateway signs. The project made improvements to The Green, itself a designated Conservation Area – new pathways, lighting, plateaux, benches and waste bins.
Rowlands Castle Oil Well
Another Project still in operation, is the Rowlands Castle oil well, drilled in woodlands just north of the Golf Course. It is one of a series of wells drilled during the 1990s in Rowlands Castle, Horndean and Clanfield area. Two wells were unproductive and capped off, and three were deemed productive –with two others just outside the parish at Horndean Pyle Farm and behind the Keydell Nurseries – by the motorway. They were all subject to re-drilling by deviated boring.
South Leigh Forest Landfill Site
A third project nearing completion is the restoration of the large South Leigh Forest Landfill site. It lays along the southern boundary of the Parish. Once a large quarry for extraction of gravels from a long gravel train which extends across to Chichester. Once the gravels were worked out the site was proposed for landfill of inert builders’ waste. This was done and already completed at the adjacent A J Bull quarry. In the event, when it was found that the quarry was also underlain by a strata of clays, it was decided to remove and export some of the clay and use the rest to bund pockets for deposition of potentially toxic domestic waste. The volume of the site was also extended by ‘land-raising’ to allow for greater volumes of waste. The final site also generated electricity from the methane gas emanating from decomposition of the rubbish. Finally, plans for its restoration were agreed, to follow capping-off, and for tree planting to achieve environmental regeneration.
Havant Thicket Reservoir
The Havant Thicket Reservoir site has been reserved in local development plans for many decades. The current utility – Portsmouth Water Company – supplies fresh water to the Portsmouth area, and has its offices in Havant adjacent to the Bedhampton Springs, a large series of natural springs which come to the surface in a restricted locality. Adjacent areas are supplied by Southern Water Company which also acts as the waste disposal authority with large works and pumping stations at Budds Farm, Havant and Eastney.
The Portsmouth Water Company reservoir proposal is for a reservoir on a clayey area in Havant Thicket which is, owned and has been designated for this use for many years. It currently forms part of the Staunton Country Park managed by Hampshire County Council. The concept underpinning the reservoir is to capture excess winter flows from the Bedhampton Springs and pump them into the artificial reservoir for use in summer when rainfall and water flows are lower. The reservoir will also offer environmental benefits, is included in ‘greenspace’ plans, and has been designed with this in mind. The company website provides a simulation of a helicopter flight around the proposed lake.
Special report: Havant Thicket Reservoir by Portsmouth Water Company
Editorial: the following article recently appears with the approval of the Emsworth Border Times and Portsmouth Water Company. It appeared in the Border Times, Issue 9, of June 2021
How the proposed reservoir will look
Working with environmental partners, we’ve developed an extensive package to plant and improve up to 180 hectares of woodland and wood pasture, which will support native species and create habitats rich in biodiversity.
The south east is officially under serious water stress and to keep taps running and protect water levels in rivers, water companies need to find new sources of water.
They also need to cater for an increase in housing and population, as well as coping with the effects of climate change. As far back as the 1960s a plan to create the Havant Thicket Reservoir – on the border of Leigh Park and Rowlands Castle – was put forward but it has taken until 2021 to get to the stage where detailed planning applications are being submitted to Havant Borough and East Hampshire District council. Although the government has already agreed that the joint operation by Portsmouth Water and Southern Water can go ahead, there is growing criticism of the plans which will see the loss of huge swathes of ancient woodland and wildlife habitat.
Havant Thicket Reservoir is an environmentally led scheme which would secure much needed water supplies for the future, in the face of climate change and extensive house building. Critically, it will also protect two of Hampshire’s world-famous and extremely rare chalk streams – the River Test and River Itchen – by enabling less water to be taken from them. The reservoir site would also bring a host of additional benefits for local communities and wildlife, including a new green leisure hub, with visitor centre and a 5km network of paths for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, to support physical and mental wellbeing and create an attractive and accessible place for families and friends to meet.
It will also create volunteering, apprenticeship and job opportunities and has great potential to support local schools and colleges in a wide range of education and outdoor activities. We absolutely regret the need to remove trees to meet this overriding public need for water and have adapted the design in many areas to reduce this to a minimum (around 12.5 hectares). We considered more than 70 potential sites but a reservoir needs to be close to a sustainable source of water and very few options exist for this – others weren’t large enough or had larger areas of woodland. We’ve worked exhaustively over many years to make sure our plans deliver an overall benefit for the environment, in addition to protecting the chalk streams.
This includes restoration in nearby Havant Thicket and Southleigh Forest to create more attractive habitats for wildlife to move to naturally. We’ll also take this unique opportunity to create a new wetland on the reservoir to support wetland birds, improve the Hermitage and Riders streams and launch a grant scheme to get local environmental projects off the ground. These plans are supported by England’s environmental regulators, Natural England and the Environment Agency, as well as local environmental groups.
At the same time, we’re focusing on reducing leakage and reducing water use but these on their own are not enough to secure the resources needed for the future. We’ve carried out independent customer research in recent years to gauge the views of people who live in the local area to hear their thoughts. This has consistently shown strong levels of support (over 90 per cent) for the reservoir and for the environmental proposals. This was echoed by a similar survey with young people at Park Community School, who see the reservoir as a place they could spend time with family and friends.
We’re aware a small number of local people do not support the proposals for the reservoir and our door remains open as always to hear their views and share the facts of the project and, in particular, information about the pressing need to secure water supplies for the region.
We’ve looked carefully at a range of potential leisure activities, including water sports, such as sailing and canoeing. Most recently this included detailed work with local community representatives and experts in leisure facilities during 2019 to consider different options. Based on the overwhelming feedback of the community representatives, we’re not planning to have large-scale public water sports at the reservoir, as it would make it feel like a much busier place, attracting more people and putting greater strain on the environment, facilities and local communities.
This was also broadly endorsed during the wider public consultation on our reservoir proposals last year and independent research showed only a quarter of people wished to see public water sports available. As water sports facilities are already in place in the local area, many felt there was not a need for more. However, we have been, and still are, open to exploring the possibility of small-scale water sports with specialist partners, targeted at local, community groups, such as schools, and we’ll continue to discuss this in the years ahead.