A battle is looming between residents and developers over plans to build 49 homes.
Councillors, planners and residents of Emsworth will pack into Havant Borough Council’s (HBC) Public Service Plaza tonight (Tuesday, January 16) for a consultation on proposals for housing off Westwood Close, Emsworth.
The 1.48-hectare site – which contains a public footpath and is neighboured by the River Ems and the West Sussex village of Westbourne – was first earmarked for development in HBC’s recently-released Draft Local Plan for 2036.
But before Southampton-based developer Hampshire Homes submits a planning application to build on the greenfield land, it will come face-to-face with Emsworth residents this evening – many of whom are expected to oppose the development.
Ray Cobbett, co-ordinator of the Havant branch of campaign group Friends of the Earth, is among those set to attend.
He said: “We had hoped this left-over piece of land would have been spared from the bulldozers to meet the council’s ambitious housing targets.
“Its long-distance footpath, together with the River Ems, defines a popular open area separating two communities in two counties.
“Its main attraction is its length and unspoilt beauty, which makes it very attractive to local and long-distance walkers.
“Sadly, this development offers no benefits to nature and threatens what’s already there.”
As part of the development consultation forum, Hampshire Homes will put forward its case to build one-bedroom flats and two, three and four-bedroom homes with associated parking on the land.
Former councillor and Emsworth tree warden, Brendan Gibb-Gray, hopes a strong opposition at tonight’s meeting could help spare the land from builders.
He said: “No one denies the fact we need houses, but if we are not careful there won’t be any land left in Havant for recreation or leisure walking.
“I do not think it is too late to save this land – there is a chance – and this forum is our time to try.”
Cllr David Guest is HBC’s cabinet lead for planning.
He said: “We will have to wait for a planning application to come through for this site, and at that point, it will be considered on its own merits.
“I would encourage everybody – certainly residents nearby to the site – to come along and hear and be part of this process.”
Tonight’s consultation forum will take place at 6pm at Havant Borough Council’s Public Service Plaza, with a Hampshire Homes display starting at 5.30pm.