Update on Neighbourhood Plan examination

The Milton Neighbourhood Development Plan Examiner Liz Beth MA MRTPI held a Hearing on 6th April at the Civic Offices to determine the Local Green Space Designations before issuing her Final Report on 26 April. 

With the Examiner’s Modifications, the Milton NDP will meet the Neighbourhood Planning Basic Conditions of conformity with National and Local planning Policy and Guidance. She found our Plan to be well-evidenced and focussed.

The City Council Planners will now arrange for the amended Plan to go to Referendum in the Summer and we hope that as many residents in the Plan area will vote positively to endorse it. It is after all a Development Plan to improve the Local Environment and we are a small group of volunteers who have given up significant amount of our time and energy over seven years to get it to this stage.

The Planning Forum had submitted for Local Green Space Designation for twelve areas of Green Space, eleven of which are already classed as Open-Space in the current Portsmouth Plan. The additional area of Green Space the Forum wanted to secure, was on the east side of Chapel Way in St James’ Hospital to include the greenfield space north of “Woodlands Walk” between the Chapel and “The Limes” building.

Our hopes for St James’ Hospital may still be frustrated by the proposed Hospital conversion and new house building on green space and adjacent to the building on the former airing courts but the Examiner had to make allowances for a “Live” application. She did however support our Policy proposals for a mix of uses including; Specialist Residential Accommodation including Elderly or Dementia Care; Residential Training; Healthcare and Other Community Uses; and Residential Conversion.

The NHS Solent Trust objected to the Designation of a Local Green Space to the north of Woodlands Walk but did agree to a compromise it could be retained as Open Space unless and until a healthcare use materialised. The Examiner did however rebut the Solent Trust’s assertion they could keep healthcare development rights on the green-space north of the Chapel up to the tree belt. This was predicated on the premise it would upset the setting of the Hospital and Chapel. That effectively means no more car-park expansion.

With regards to the Campus and the University Playing Fields, the northern end of the Sports-fields will be designated as Local Green Space along with the Brent Geese Core Area adjacent to the Harbour. This is a far higher level of protection than the current Portsmouth Plan PCS13 “Greener Portsmouth” affords them. Space on an area from the Artificial Games Areas southwards to the boundary with Locksway Road Development on the Sports-Fields “May” be permitted but, this should only be for a similar extent in area terms of the 3.15 ha they currently have on Langstone Campus. That would also only be on condition the Campus is reinstated to green space appropriate for a coastal setting. The University are most likely to want housing but our aspirations for an educational use are preserved.

We have another eight green spaces with this higher level of protection including “Matron’s Walk” and “St James’ Green” in St James’ Hospital. Although The land north of the Chapel is deemed not suitable for development because of the impact on the setting of the Hospital it could not be designated a Local Green Space as such and nor can “Matron’s Garden”. Unfortunately, it is within the gift of the respective landowners to disallow it.

The Full Report can be seen under Examiners report. (top of page menu)

Rod Bailey

Chair Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum

Milton Neighbourhood Plan Examination – Green Space Map

The Hearing will take place in the Civic Offices, conference room 1,  on 6th April 2022 from 10.30 to approximately 1500 with a break for lunch.

The hearing will be focusing upon the following points:

  1. Clarity around designations shown on the “Green Space Map”, including an alternative to designating land in private ownership to be ‘publicly accessible’, which is not a land-use issue.  The shading should show LGS clearly and separately together with a boundary of each LGS designation.  A further designation of ‘Open Green Space’ could also be included for sites not designated as LGS.
  2. LGS 1: The inclusion or not of the adjacent wooded area currently designated as ‘Proposed publicly accessible open space’.
  3. LGS 2: The inclusion or not of the adjacent wooded area currently designated as ‘Proposed publicly accessible open space’.
  4. LGS 3: How the proposed compromise with designation as open space but with the possibility of future development for hospital use may be made within permitted policy limits such as the NPPF paras 101-103.
  5. LGS8: Designation of part of this site as suitable for future development, however caveated is not compatible with LGS designation.  The development site could be removed from the LGS8 designation or the development proposal removed, and potentially left as ‘open space’ designation in a similar way to LGS3?
  6. The addition of Milton Locks Nature Reserve as an LGS.  A brief description of the ecological value of the Locks, and other attributes justifying designation as a LGS would be useful to see at or before the Hearing.

The floor will not be open to any other topics and people can only speak if invited by the examiner. 

The following have been invited; NHS (both Solent Trust and, property services), Homes England, Portsmouth University, and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Those who responded to reg 16 have also been informed but to attend to view only rather than to speak.

Members of the public are able to attend to observe, invitation to speak will be only at the discretion of the examiner. If you would like to attend, please contact planningpolicy@portsmouthcc.gov.uk so that we can manage numbers.

Neighbourhood Planning Forum objection to St James Phase 2 – 18 March 2022

Milton Planning Forum’s Objection to Phase 2 St James’ Hospital PJ Livesey Scheme

The scheme is wrong. It’s too intensive; 

  1. it damages the setting of the Grade II Listed Building (breaching Policy MT4); 
  2. what should be retained as open space to “set” the Hospital in its landscape is being offered up as new green space in order to build over “Matrons Garden” supposedly protected under Policy PCS13 (A Greener Portsmouth); 
  3. there is not the highway capacity to accommodate the traffic generated and thereby also breaches Policy MT4 (and also PSC17 Transport);  
  4. it doesn’t provide Affordable Housing and could have if the site had been master-planned coherently 
  5.  the owner is a Gov’t Dep’t whose overriding Objective is to secure a long-term re-use of the historic assets consistent with the Local Plan and not the maximisation of disposal receipts (begs the question of why PCC’s bid was rejected!)

The Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum Objects to the revised application for 151 new apartments in the Grade II Listed Hospital and 58 new houses in the Hospital grounds.

These comments should be read in conjunction with our earlier Objections dated 16 March 2021 and 15 March 2020.

The Officers’ Report to and Minutes of, the Planning Committee of 12 January 2022, misrepresent a proper understanding of the Portsmouth Plan Policies MT4; PCS13; PCS17; PCS19; and PCS23 in relation to the St James’ specific policy objectives; and the general policies on green space loss; transport; affordable housing; and design & conservation.

The key St James’ Policy is Policy MT4. It specifically requires the integrity and appearance of the Hospital and its setting be preserved, and the highway capacity to be sufficient to accommodate the additional traffic.

The application does not accord with the NPPF paras 65; 98; 111; 130; 131; 132; 134; 200; and 201; in relation to affordable housing; green space loss; unacceptable impact on the road network; visual amenity and loss of trees; and conservation of heritage assets within their setting.

The Committee did not have confidence the applicant’s uninspired house designs befitted the Hospital and its setting; of sufficiency of capacity in the local road network; an adequate justification for the absence of affordable housing; or the extent of the tree loss. 

House Design and Setting

The absence of a 3D interpretation of the impact the three-storey buildings on the setting is a telling omission- especially unreasonable considering the 2020 Design Review’s emphasis that “Views in and out are important

By replacing flat roofs with pitched ones so close to the Hospital building, and on its Airing Courts; its setting has been further impaired. Building within either the western or eastern airing courts is harmful but doing so with three storey buildings is manifestly inappropriate, wrong, and unjustified on Government land. 

Para 200 of the NPPF requires clear and convincing justification for harming the setting of a Listed Buildings. The applicant has none. The landowner is a Government Dep’t and in disposing of sites with historic assets, maximisation of disposal receipts is not an overriding objective:- https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/disposal-heritage-assets/guidance-disposals-final-jun-10/ Instead, under these circumstances, Gov’t Dep’ts have a higher duty to meet social and environmental objectives consistent with local and national planning to ensure the re-use of the historic building can be secured. The building can be secured by its conversion for 151 apartments. Any claim the houses are required to “cross-subsidise” the conversion costs is fallacious because the “owning” Dep’t had every opportunity to master-plan its exit coherently with Phase 1 and “Forest Lodge”, especially when all three sites were known to becoming vacant within short periods of each other. The failure to do so was also against the express wishes of Local MPs. It is not for Planning Authorities to support bad disposal strategies at the expense of the communities they serve.

Para 201 of the NPPF kicks in when harm to heritage assets is substantial. Because those plain and discordant three storey “Harrison” types now have pitched roofs on them; views towards and from within the Hospital, are obstructed to an even greater extent. What the applicant formerly described as “Less Than” Substantial harm is unequivocally “Substantial” now due to the imminent proximity by only a few metres to the flanks of the Hospital’s main elevations. Indeed, the Design Review recognised the potential for that harm in their comments on the original scheme where they advised caution on the treatment of boundaries. Using their words, “A management plan should ensure that boundary treatments of private spaces, where they are deemed necessary to create defensible space, have minimum impact on the elevations of the hospital building when viewed from eye-level around the site”.      

These are not minimum impacts. They are substantial impacts. They despoil the Hospital’s rightful place in its own landscape. The intent of MT4, and the NPPF, is to secure the prominence of a Grade II Listed Hospital building in the setting it was built with.

The Design Review disapproved of parking between the wings:- “The provision of parking between the wings is particularly unsatisfactory“. No regard has been given to the Review’s comments with the siting of 22 spaces between Lowry and Fernhurst wings; 21 between Fernhurst and Exbury wings; 22 between Exbury and Overton; and 10 between Overton and Langstone wings.

Para 157 of the NPPF also imposes on decision makers to take account of landform, layout, building orientation, massing and landscaping to minimise energy consumption. Unless the “Oxlades”; “Fairfields”; “Claybury’s” and “earsleigh” House Types incorporate Solar PV roof tiles on their east and west facing pitched roof slopes all are poorly orientated. The positioning of the four “Oxlades” (numbers 24-27); the ten new “Fairfield” types (numbers 32-41) and the four “Clayburys” (46-49) at the north would be better re-orientated to maximise Solar PV generation. To the west; the eight “Earlsleighs” (numbers 8-15) are similarly poorly orientated especially so when they don’t match the symmetrical layout of the Hospital. The nine three-storey inappropriately designed and positioned “Harrison” types in the Eastern Airing Court, are all orientated poorly for Solar PV maximisation too, compounding their wrongful positioning within the Grade II Listing setting.

The Design Review recommended taking design cues from the Grade II Hospital building. Where and what are they? At the very minimum, we would have expected better detailing such as quoins around windows and door frames and it shouldn’t be too difficult to introduce different patterns of brickwork interspersed with flint either. 

The Design Review Report exposed the absence of any relationship with the Homes England site and advised of a need to link the two and show how they “demonstrate” the wider changes to this part of Portsmouth. That absence of any “demonstration” may well be a consequence of poor intercommunication between the two  parties, or, because of the landowner’s incoherent and fragmented disposal strategy, but, the Planning Authority has an obligation to ensure the overall outcome will produce holistic improvements. We can’t see any in this proposal.  

Green Spaces

The Roundabout and Airing Court green-spaces are essential to the setting of the Hospital and must be disregarded in any calculations towards green space enhancement. There can be no justification for the loss of “Matrons Garden”  (protected by Policy PCS13) on the grounds the loss is being compensated for elsewhere.  

Notwithstanding the loss of “Langstone” and “Turner” Blocks, there is a net loss of Open Space by approximately 1,000 sq m .

Traffic Generation and Highway Capacity

Milton Road is congested. Velder Avenue is congested. Eastern Road is congested. 

Policy MT4 had always assumed a Private Hospital would risk intolerable congestion. It is therefore not the difference between a housing or Hospital development:- it’s either or both! 

The Committee, Planning Officers, and PCC’s Highways Officer have mistakenly taken into account a hypothetical traffic value ascribed to the Hospital’s past use is relevant.

Policy MT4 would not have been drafted to make explicit reference to the highway restrictions unless PCC and the then Highways Authority, Hampshire County Council, were aware of the highway limitations. Between 2006 when Policy MT4 was formally adopted and now, car registrations in in the City have risen faster than the population making us the 4th most Congested City in the UK. 

Members and Officers have failed again to understand the context. MT4 was drafted in the full knowledge the Hospital site had, and was, still being developed for 349 new houses. If each of these only had three vehicles for every two households, that adds another 575 cars to an already busy road network and since then, PCC has needed to declare part of Milton Rd; all of Velder Avenue; and part of Eastern Rd an Air Quality Management Area. This is the same AQMA that barely complies with UK Legal Limits now, and may not even do so, if PCC wouldn’t reduce their “actual” monitored pollution readings in there reporting to the Department for Environment (16% in their last Annual Statement to DEFRA). 

The public has not been shown any evidence in the revised application documents that a reassessment of traffic impacts on the local roads has even been undertaken. All we can see is a drawing of an indicative scheme with traffic lights at the junction of Locksway Rd/Milton Rd dated September 2021 which was described as “aspirational”  at the Planning Committee. It did not prove the junction was adequate to accommodate the demand in 2021 and nor does it do so in March 2022.

There needs to be robust evidence Milton Rd; Velder Avenue; and Eastern Rds will accommodate the redevelopment of St James’ Hospital taking account of the redevelopment of Kingston Prison. 

Affordable Housing

The landowner is a Government Dep’t. Gov’t Dep’t’s in disposing of sites with historic buildings, are not required to maximise disposal receipts. As stated above, that is not their overriding objective:- Instead, their objective is to secure a long-term future for historic buildings consistent with local and national planning in the wider social and environmental context.

Local and national planning policies are required to secure a minimum level of affordable housing in new developments. 

The NHS had every opportunity to masterplan their exit from St James’ coherently. Had they done so, the site “in toto” could have supplied the requisite proportion of social housing by “cross-subsidising” the conversion costs across the whole site. It is not for Planning Authorities, or the communities they serve, to subsidise bad disposal strategies on behalf of Central Gov’t Dep’ts:-in those circumstances Gov’t Policy and the NPPF places viability for communities above viability to housebuilders. 

Tree Loss

The revised application reduces the total number of trees to be felled against the original proposal. However, because the application still proposes building on green spaces inappropriately, too many are lost without justification.

Carbon Footprint  

Although the works in the Hospital conversion are acceptable and meet the requirement to preserve the integrity of the Hospital, there remains the issue of the demolition of Lancashire House. The re-use of Lancashire House is an opportunity to create a “Community Energy Hub” and meets National Planning objectives to reduce the “carbon footprint” in larger new developments. It’s a historic building depicted in at least two of Edward King’s many paintings of the Hospital. He was a renowned artist “committed” by his family to St James’ in 1926 and died there in 1951. All pre-1948 buildings within the curtilage of Listed Buildings are deemed to be “Listed by association”. 

The NPPF para 157 and the emerging Portsmouth Plan encourage the use of “decentralised” energy supply; the Council has a “Net Zero” Carbon Emissions Target for 2030; and the 2020 Design Review expressed the lack of information justifying its loss. “Embedded Carbon” and the opportunities its steeply pitched south facing roof offer for Solar PV generation compound the wastage of such a significant building. The Design Review expressed the view “It was disappointing not to hear more about the approach to sustainability and we support the Milton Neighbourhood Forum in pushing for this development to be exemplary in terms of sustainability. Reducing embodied carbon is as important as promoting sustainable ways of living and minimising energy in use, and there are many opportunities to articulate this further, from water management and details of permeable paving through to biodiversity and ecology gains”.

This proposal is offering development inconsistent with the objectives of local and national planning policy and should be refused. 

Rod Bailey

Chair Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum

18 March 2022

Milton Neighbourhood and Planning Forum’s Comments to Draft Local Plan Consultation October 2021

Considering this Authority declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and set itself a “Net Zero” Carbon Emissions Target for 2030, we are surprised the Draft Plan fails to articulate what our tonnage of carbon emissions currently are; how the proposals in this Plan can/could be quantified; and hence what they will be in the event the Policies are realised/complied with. Climate change is the greatest challenge facing our society and we are spending £millions on new Sea-Defences.

Under the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK Government has committed itself to reducing emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050. A “Net Zero” Target of 2030 is an inspiring objective to aim for but this Consultation Draft seems to ignore the implications.

Local development plans should be able to demonstrate how policy contributes to the Climate Change Act targets. To do so must require an understanding of both the baseline carbon dioxide emissions and then the actions needed to reduce emissions over time. Therefore there needs to be Annual Monitoring Reports containing assessments of carbon performance against the carbon budget regime set out in the Climate Change Act. The Section 19 duty within the 2008 Act is much stronger in decision-making than the status of the NPPF, which is guidance, not statute.

According to the RTPI, where local development plan policy which complies with the duty is challenged by objectors or a planning inspector on the grounds, for example, of viability, they must make clear how the plan would comply with the duty if the policy were to be removed. Whatever new policy may emerge, compliance with the legal duty on mitigation must logically mean compliance with the provisions of the Climate Change Act

The Draft’s introduction includes a reference to the Climate Change Act of 2008:- Para 1.1.12 Reducing harmful emissions will be a key part of supporting the council’s Climate Change Emergency Declaration, as well as meeting our responsibilities as part of the UK’s commitments under the Climate Change Act 2008 (as amended). New development will have an impact on the environment throughout its lifetime and will need to be constructed to be resilient against the impacts of climate change that are predicted to occur over the next 100 years. 1.1.13 The challenge for the Portsmouth Local Plan is to balance the conflicting and competing issues and development needs, within the context of Portsmouth’s unique constraints and opportunities, in order to plan for the long-term sustainable development of the city.

The Monitoring and Implementation S1.4 is where we would expect to see evidence of Section 19 Compliance. However, we cannot seewhere the Carbon Emissions are accounted for and urgently recommend they be so.

Excepting the Housing “Need” proposal for 17,701 new homes over the Plan period (see below), we broadly agree with the Strategic Objectives around culture; the economy and lifelong learning; easy travel and prioritising walking and cycling. However, we suggest the “Green City” objective ought to be expanded to embrace a “Blue” objective because of the International and National Conservation objectives to prevent development impacts on our two Harbours. We suggest too, the general provision of health facilities is far from adequate and the “Healthy and Happy City” objective to achieve “optimal” health and well-being of residents appears too weak.

The “Key Themes” in themselves are fine, but the City’s generally poor physical environment and its poor health outcomes ought to make us realise something is wrong.

The core function of any Spatial Plan should be to create places enabling people to live “Healthy and Happy” lives even if Land Reform and a removal of many “Permitted Development rights” would help realise it too. The 2001 and the 2011-2027 Plans also aimed to improve health and well-being and the environment including the need for “greening”; sustainable transport; and better design.

We believe “Healthy and Happiness” would be severely compromised by the enormity of the housing numbers proposed should they ever be built. It would be environmentally and socially unsustainable; irrespective of their setting; of how they look and how well they function; to accommodate 17,701 new dwellings over the 15 years duration of the Plan if the current housing stock is 89.800, then effectively we are being consulted upon a 20% increase in round terms. It undermines the Plan’s “Clean Growth” initiative because it would require building into ecologically rich mudflats at Tipner contrary to Climate Change Policies and the Habitats Directive; it would be incompatible with the 2019 Ministerial Directive to reduce Air Pollution to within legal limits; and it would reduce residents’ quality of life and harm the environment generally.

The proposal to build 17,701 new dwellings is excessive and unacceptable.

As the Plan acknowledges, this is a Central Government’s assessment of housing need and ignores local constraints and deliverability. There are in Portsmouth “Exceptional Circumstances” including its geography:- its minimal size and currently highly “densified” and urbanised character; the congestion and pollution; the high levels of existing deprivation and the lower life expectancy rates; the Conservation of Habitats imposed by Statute and International Law; the extreme paucity of open-spaces; and the whole transport inefficiency in trying to access anywhere easily whether on foot, cycle or in a vehicle. These are relevant factors needing to be taken account of in the plan-making process.

The health inequalities for Portsmouth are expressed in para 1.1.10 of the Draft where it says Portsmouth has more acute health inequalities and lower life expectancies than surrounding areas. City-wide, the life expectancy at birth for both males (78.4 years) and females (82 years) is lower than both the average for the South East region (80.7/84.1 years) and for England (79.6/83.2 years)…….

Air Pollution is a persistent and pervasive health issue and para 1.1.11 says:- Alongside many other busy cities around the UK, Portsmouth has been identified as a city that needs to reduce air pollution levels as quickly as possible. In Portsmouth, one of the main pollutants that can impact on human health is nitrogen dioxide (a product of combustion from road traffic).

Air Pollution urgently needs resolution but it cannot be resolved through “mitigation”. It needs a more positive intervention to avoid the likelihood of pollution occurring altogether. Again In para 1.1.11, the Draft says:- “There are currently five Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) predicted to exceed the annual nitrogen dioxide National Air Quality Objective (NAQO)”. The redevelopment of St James’ Hospital with 316 new dwellings will inevitably impact on AQMA 9. AQMA9 would breach Legal Limits today if the latest Monitored readings of 2019 were not reduced by 16%. That reduction is greater still than the 10.9% made in 2018.

The Plan is therefore at odds with reality where it says at para 6.3.14:- “It is proposed that new development complies with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) targets on air quality; in view of the recognized air quality issues in the city and the ahead of the likely inclusion of this requirement in the forthcoming Environment Act”. The 2021 WHO Guidelines for annual NO2 is 10µg/m³ and Velder Avenue in AQMA 9 exceeds that value by 3.6 times and that’s after the PCC bias adjustment factor of 84%. The WHO Guidelines for Fine and Coarse Particulates are 5µg/m³ and 10µg/m³ respectively and PCC has no idea if Velder Avenue exceeds these values because it does not monitor them in this location.

The proposed Policy D3 requires “Major development proposals will be required to undertake an accompanying Health Impact Assessment (HIA), demonstrating how the planning application has been informed by the findings of the assessment”. If the pollution is already known to the Authority then, in relation to the Milton Strategic Development Area for 436 new homes, this text is a nonsense:-

Air Quality:- Planning permission will only be granted where it can be demonstrated that proposals have fully considered and adequately mitigated the potential for poor air quality impact on both the proposed location as well as the future occupants/users of the development, in line with the relevant requirements and considerations. It would be an impossibility for an Applicant to “demonstrate” mitigation for a “potential” problem if it already exists. Furthermore, “Mitigation” conflicts with the Ministerial Directive of 2019 where PCC was mandated to reduce air pollution levels to within “legal” limits (that same legal NO2  limit which is four times higher than the WHO standards the Plan aims to achieve). It is just as impossible to “mitigate” a legally mandated obligation in the interests of Public Health as it is for applicants to mitigate pre-existing pollution. Air pollution would need to meet the WHO standards IN ADVANCE of new development but as it is, AECOM the Environmental Consultants for the Neighbourhood Plan conclude in their Strategic Environmental Appraisal the levels of growth proposed in the emerging Portsmouth Plan are likely to lead to exceedances of in the National Air Quality Objectives in the AQMA areas just as this Plan’s para 1.1.11 does.

We broadly agree with the draft Spatial Development Strategy and we agree with the principles of Economic Growth and Regeneration but will confine our comments to issues more directly affecting the Milton Neighbourhood.

We support the quantum of Affordable Housing and in general the Housing mix proposed in Housing Policy H2. We have reservations about the availability of land of sufficient extent to provide the 57% of new family homes desired. During our Neighbourhood Plan preparation we met a number of elderly residents saying they would vacate their three bedroom houses for a quality retirement home now they are living on their own. It is not inconceivable that the same preference might apply across the City.

The proposed housing densities in H5 are expressed as “minimums” but in view the current densification levels would be better stated as “maximums” to avoid “cramming”. St James’ and eastwards is deemed “Suburban Edge” but 40dph still equates to approximately 16 dwellings per football pitch.

We support the Housing Space Standards Policy H6.

We support the retention of Community and Leisure Facilities within Policy C1.

We support the Open Space Policy C2 where it seeks to retain and enhance open space with a further proviso that for new housing developments in excess of 100 dwellings, 1.65 ha of additional public open space is provided “where possible”. That “where possible” however is weakened by the additional “unless” caveat allowing developers to build on existing open-spaces if there are wider public benefits outweighing their loss. That’s an inconsistency undermining the whole density of development argument and we question why in a City with such a paucity of Open Space we should tolerate any loss at all. We recommend that the Policy wording should be amended accordingly.

We support the aims and objectives of the Sustainable Transport Policy C3 but question why we think it will be realised. The 2001 and 2012 Portsmouth Plans and the 2009 Local Transport Plan LTP3 were ineffective in promoting active travel and public transport and in reducing the reliance of the private car. The Public Consultation for the 2001 Plan identified improving Transport as the first priority. In 2009 there were 109,000 vehicles registered in Portsmouth with a population of 205,000. In 2019 the population had risen to 214,905 in 89,900 homes using this Plan’s figures. Meanwhile, DfT’s road statistics show Portsmouth’s Vehicle Registrations in 2019 as 129.000. In approximately 6 years the population has expanded by 5% and the number of vehicles by 19%. In 2019, 827,500,000 miles were travelled in vehicles in Portsmouth https://roadtraffic.dft.gov.uk/local-authorities/82. Portsmouth is only 15 sqm in totality and is the 4th most congested City in the UK.

The initiatives proposed in LTP4 would give more road space to cyclists and pedestrians and improvements in public transport is welcome but this needs to be implemented and functioning well before the City generally, and the Milton area particularly, could be expected to provide anything approaching the number of new homes proposed otherwise we will be encumbered from more congestion and pollution problems than we already suffer with.

We support the principle that the granting of permission for development will be granted where priority is given to pedestrian and cycle movements with high permeability by foot, cycle and public transport connecting to local walking and cycling networks and services/facilities. However, we recommend the strategic transport and active travel initiatives be implemented before any further major developments are started.

We support the Design Code initiative in Policy D1 and the Sustainability Objectives of D2.

We are pleased with the Policy aims of D4 and indeed, the Neighbourhood Plan’s option for a Solar PV Farm on the developed footprint of Langstone Campus would accord with this Policy and would be acceptable in terms of the EU Habitats Directive. However, it is not within the principles of Sustainable Dev’t to “Carbon Offset”. The aim, as with habitat conservation and pollution reduction, should be to avoid the harm altogether.

We are pleased that Locally Listed Buildings are being granted a greater degree of protection in Policy D5 with the requirement that they and their setting should be conserved and enhanced and proposals affecting them will only be supported where the applicant acknowledges their significance and their setting, as well as the impacts their development will have.

The Heritage & Archaeology Policy D5 Map should include the Locally Listed “Old Engine House” in Locksway Rd; the Friendly Society Homes in Glasgow Rd; the “Meon Valley” PH in Meon Rd and the “Old Canal” PH in Shirley Avenue.

We are pleased too with Policy D6 to enhance heritage assets particularly those on the Buildings At Risk Register.

In general, we welcome the Environmental Policies. However, the Biodiversity Policy G1, might be better expressed to clarify an apparent inconsistency where in relation to development proposals adversely affecting Designated sites the Policy states:-

Planning permission will be granted where:

a. The ecological value of the application site has been appropriately identified and assessed, and any matters arising have been addressed in the development proposal at the earliest stage possible;

b. Development avoids harm to the identified components of the Portsmouth ecological network, and it can be demonstrated that opportunities for conservation, restoration and enhancement of networks have been explored. Any unavoidable harm to biodiversity must be appropriately mitigated, or as a last resort, adequately compensated for;

c. Development would result in measurable net gains in biodiversity;

d. Proposals are in line with the requirements of habitat mitigation or compensation schemes effective within the Portsmouth City Council area, including the Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy.

Sites over 0.1ha or all proposals that would lead to a biodiversity loss will need an extended Habitat Survey and Biodiversity Mitigation and Enhancement Plan.

It then says applications will be refused where:- There is likely to be a significant adverse effect on an existing or proposed SPA, SAC or Ramsar designation, or land identified as compensatory measures for adverse effects on these designations (and the proposal is not directly connected with, or necessary to, the management of that site); and:-. “The development proposal is not in compliance with the relevant regulations and national policy regarding the assessment of implications for SPAs, SACs or Ramsar sites”.

The rationale for our proposed extension of the Milton Common open and semi-wild space in the Neighbourhood Plan is to improve biodiversity because of its close proximity to Langstone Harbour and its diverse and valuable habitat. Additionally It would serve to improve the Campus site’s contribution to the functioning of the over-wintering Brent Geese grazing network and we also have an HRA recommending it as the preferred option. However, to preserve the University’s Existing-Use rights we show where those rights could be transferred to. Policy G1 could be understood in two opposing ways:- one supporting our proposed Policy and one rejecting it. We have qualified ours by requiring the need for a “Project Level HRA” and I suppose this is compliant with your “extended habitat survey” but it is not easy to understand what the Policy G1 is trying to achieve. It is also inconsistent with 2018 Environment Plan to restore nature and the environment because restoration and mitigation are two divergent objectives.

We cannot agree with the principle that the “mitigation” of, or “off-setting” of, harm to wildlife habitats is acceptable or appropriate in order to allow an expansion of house-building when our environment has already been degraded by development and depleted of function through stress and pollution.

We support the Green Infrastructure Policy G2 except in so far as it proposes compensation for loss. If “greening” is beneficial to health and well-being and biodiversity enhancement, any loss must therefore be unacceptable. We support the creation of an “Urban Greening Factor Tool” in development proposals and the pursuit of contributions from developers of sites close within and close to “Green Infrastructure & Corridors” to improve them and be utilised as more attractive routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

We endorse wholeheartedly the need for Water Quality “Nutrient Neutrality” over the lifetime of a new residential or tourism use in Policy G3 but it is not sufficiently clear what the 110ltrs/day means in Policy R1 (footnote 93 p159). 

The Coastal Zone Policy S10 appears to be drawn in the wrong position where it follows Furze Lane rather than the boundary of the sports-fields abutting the St James’ Hospital eastern boundary. Policies LH1 and 2 in the current 2012 Portsmouth Plan were carried forward from the 2006 Plan to ensure Portsmouth’s Coastline was protected from “inappropriate” development and to assist with the wildlife conservation objectives of the internationally Designated Langstone Harbour. Moving the Coastal Zone boundary would be incongruous with wildlife conservation when there are three Conservation impositions:- the RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance; the European Designation as the “Chichester and Langstone Harbour Special Protection Area” requiring it to be maintained and restored; and the Solent Special Area of Conservation where Langstone Harbour is highly valued for its mud-flats. Parts are also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Water quality in Langstone Harbour is currently declining from ever increasing pollution incidents and nitrate contamination upsetting the natural balance this “protected” habitat is internationally recognised for and the underlying cause is intensity of land-use and development.

We therefore recommend reinstating the Coastal Zone Boundary as shown in the 2001 and 2011 Plans and the emerging Milton Neighbourhood Plan.

St James’ and Langstone Campus Strategic Development Area

We believe the principle of a “Green City” with lower carbon emissions and vehicular congestion and pollution levels which could protect and enhance biodiversity; open space; and green infrastructure will be compromised in Milton by including both of the St James’ and Langstone Campus sites as a Strategic Development Area.

The inclusion of both sites in Policy S5 is at odds with the NAQO and para 1.1.11. Indeed the Plan’s evidence papers of February 2019 show Milton already suffers with six congestion hotspots:- Milton Rd/St Mary’s Rd; Milton Rd/Velder Avenue; Milton Rd/Locksway Rd; Milton Rd/Goldsmith Avenue; Goldsmith Avenue/Priory Crescent; and A2030/Moorings Way. This congestion exists now in advance of the former Kingston Prison being occupied. If there is not the road space to accommodate existing traffic, where is the additional traffic supposed to queue and how is it supposed to avoid polluting our residential streets? New petrol and diesel cars are not going to be banned until 2030 which means they will still be in common use until the expiry of this Plan.

It would better to redraft Policy S5 to exclude Langstone Campus as a “Strategic Site”. It could be, as your draft Policy alludes to, an opportunity area for a new school where school-children could be free of toxic vehicle fumes and utilise the open-spaces and Sports-fields and access it from the south east of Portsea Island safely by foot or by bicycle. The Neighbourhood Plan Habitats Assessment recommends the avoidance of the Campus site for a school in order to protect the Core Brent Geese Grazing Area P23b. The issue with proposing a housing use at the Campus/Sports-fields is that it enhances land value rendering the education use as non-viable. Generally however, that use would be more compliant with the Conservation objectives of Langstone Harbour. 

It must also be remembered, there are clear Planning Obligations agreed with the RSPB, Natural England and the University following the approval for the 1996 student accommodation blocks, that the grassland on both the Campus (eastern fields abutting the Harbour) and the Furze Lane Sports-Facilities (western fields) be carefully managed in perpetuity for the conservation of Brent Geese habitat. The Section 106 agreement established a clear grassland management regime for both areas specifying weekly cutting by cylinder mowing to 25mm from mid March to mid April; 20mm from April to the end of September and 25mm in October. It further requires “approved” Spring/Summer grass fertiliser applications followed by an  “approved” Autumn fertiliser to both. It demanded a “selective” herbicide be used to the Western playing fields but not to the eastern ones since they were required to be taken out of use for sports activity as a Condition of the Grant. Finally, the Obligation specified the grass seeds mixes to redress any damaged areas.

Strategic development of the Langstone Campus site is not at all conducive with this agreed level of grassland management and is inconsistent with the aims of Coastal Policy S10 (see above).

We support the Policy for the Furze Lane north-south bus/cycleway connection along the route to be retained and enhanced.

The prominence granted in Policy S5 to the “setting” of the Grade 11 Listed St James’ Hospital and Chapel and the retention of other historic assets is very welcome. The inclusion of the requirement to retain the open spaces for public access will be very widely appreciated too as will the north/south cycle link. However, we suggest the reference to the 209 dwellings in the Hospital and 107 in the grounds to the south, could be interpreted as leading decision makers to favourably consider the two, as yet, undetermined applications. We recommend it would be better to provide an indicative potential figure for the number of dwellings and that the Policy seeks a more cohesive and integrated development. In that way the Lower Carbon and Carbon Neutral Policy D4 which says, “Proposals of more than 250 dwellings, or of more than 1,000 sqm for non-domestic uses, will be expected to be supported by their own district/communal heat network where feasible, or a suitable alternative” could be more easily achieved through the retention of “Lancaster House” which the Neighbourhood Plan considers as essential to comply with National Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Policy.

We support the inclusion of elderly persons and sheltered accommodation on St James’ Hospital as these residential uses would have a lower impact on the local road network. The three storey RNBT residential assisted accommodation currently under construction does not benefit local residents. Elderly persons or sheltered units could be a good fit for the Edwardian Villas now deemed as “Curtilage Listed”. The recommendation that the site be used for medical facilities is also welcome too but we would like to see that insisted upon in and around the redevelopment of the Grade 11 Listed building as otherwise the NHS will say the Policy is complied with on the site already.    

Rod Bailey

Rod Bailey

Chair Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum

Janice Burkinshaw                    J.G. Burkinshaw Chair Milton Neighbourhood Forum                                                       27 October 2021

Forum objection to St James Phase 2 development

The Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum objects to the Planning Application for 230 new Dwellings and 485 Car-spaces at St James’ Hospital.

1) There is no “Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development” anywhere in Portsmouth by virtue of the Chichester & Langstone Harbour (and other Special Protection Areas around Portsmouth’s coast) wildlife habitats constraints. This scheme is not proposing Sustainable Development compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It undermines the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan’s objectives. It is not balancing environmental and social needs with landowners and developers financial motives.

2) It misapplies Policy MT4 in the current Portsmouth Plan because it fails to comply with  qualifications on local highway constraints and the intentions of MT4 requiring the integrity and appearance of the building to be preserved.

3) The absence of highway capacity and other infrastructure was identified in the 2017 Issues and Options for the emerging Portsmouth Plan 2021-2036 prevents the intensification of development proposed

4) The proposed number of 485 car-spaces is excessive and goes well beyond current guidance on parking standards by 37% and exceeds the emerging standards by 80%. Such a scale undermines PCC’s ability to achieve a “Net Zero Carbon Emissions” target.    5) Exposure of local residents to higher levels of air pollution created by increased congestion on the local highway creates an unacceptable risk of harm to human health.

6) There is no use of renewable energy in contravention of National Planning Policy which also undermines PCC’s intentions to be “Zero Carbon” by 2030.

7) There is harm to the setting of the Grade II Listed Hospital implicit in the Heritage Assessment which identifies pre-1909 structures as “Significant” and says there will be a degree of heritage harm to the designed grounds and the asylum buildings.

8) The Health Impact Assessment’s conclusions are false.

9) The total quantum of “Affordable” Housing is non-compliant with Portsmouth Plan Policy PCS19 and the 2019 “Providing Affordable Homes in Portsmouth” Brief.

10) The proposed use increases stresses on the community infrastructure such as schools and community facilities as recognised in the 2017 “Issues and Options” to the emerging Portsmouth Plan 2021-2036. Existing Policy MT4 proposes continued use as a Hospital, Residential Training or Education. Health and Education uses would help address local deficits, generate employment and help reduce car-dependency and are therefore more appropriate.

1) Absence of any “Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development” and Non-compliance with the NPPF and UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan

The increases in recreational stresses on the environmentally sensitive habitats in Langstone Harbour created by future residents in housing developments on St James’ Hospital is not addressed in the Milton Common Restoration Framework (see paragraph 5.5 therein).

Paragraph 177 of the NPPF states the presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply where the plan or project is “likely to have a significant effect on a habitats site” (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), unless an appropriate assessment has concluded that the plan or project will not adversely affect the integrity of the habitats site.

The designation of Langstone Harbour as a Special Protection Area for habitat conservation in 1987 has not prevented recreational stresses from the population expansion of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas. As a result, Negative Impacts on the Langstone Harbour SPA over many years has required PCC to create “Mitigation” measures to reduce the harm. The current “Mitigation” (the “Bird Tax”) is an “Interim Strategy”.

It has become apparent these measures are ineffective. Current data shows that only 18% of Langstone Harbour is in “favourable condition”. In other words 82% is not “favourable”. Therefore the applicant cannot rely on any assumption his development will have no significant effect on local habitats through the payment of a “Bird Tax”. All he can do is hope. Hope isn’t good enough.

The withholding of residential planning permissions on residential schemes imposed by Natural England in 2019 to reduce eutrophication in the Harbour from excessive nitrate concentrations is being addressed by schemes to avoid increasing the nitrate burden. Rather than resolving the actual cause from over-development effecting a sensitive environment PCC’s response is to create an “”Interim Nutrient Neutral Mitigation Strategy” which proposes “Mitigation Credits”, “Off-setting” and taking agricultural land elsewhere out of intensive farming reliant on nitrogen fertilisers.

The applicant accepts he is not proposing a solution. Instead he explains there is to be further negotiation with PCC and Natural England. Special Protection Areas were designated to protect wildlife habitats. “Interim Mitigations” imply harm can be reduced. The UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan goal is to improve wildlife habitats (as well as our air, and our water quality). “Mitigation” is not improvement! We want to see an improvement to the water quality in Langstone Harbour, not hope the applicant can successfully negotiate a compromise.

2) Misapplication of Policy MT4 for St James’ Hospital 

This application proposes to re-use a Victorian Grade II Listed Hospital with 230 dwellings accommodating  approximately 550 residents and 485 car-spaces. It proposes replacing a hospital in the most densely populated City in England . We have 5,400 residents/sq km but we do not have sufficient healthcare facilities to support it.

The scale of development is excessive. It is an intensification of a residential use beyond the capacity of the local highway network to accommodate it. The application is therefore contrary to the current Portsmouth Plan Policy MT4.

Policy MT4, drafted for the 2001-2011 Portsmouth Plan and carried over to the current one, explicitly constrains the options for the redevelopment of the Grade 11 Listed Hospital. It qualifies it’s re-use whether as a Hospital or conversion to a residential training centre; education or for housing, by requiring the re-use to preserve the integrity and appearance of the building. Critically MT4 also qualifies these re-uses by inserting the constraint, subject to the surrounding highway network being able to satisfactorily accommodate the additional traffic generation.

3) Absence of Capacity on the Local Highway Network 

The Transport Evidence Paper produced by Systra for the emerging Portsmouth Plan state that existing traffic volumes exceed capacity at the road junctions at Milton Road and Velder Avenue.

In relation to St James’ Hospital it states “The Transport Assessment completed for the St James’ Hospital – Plot 1 development, for 107 residential dwellings, concluded that there is no expected change in traffic flows in comparison to the former hospital buildings, and that mitigations to the surrounding road network are not required. It should be noted that this application has not been formally approved by the Council. While the 107 dwellings proposed in Plot 1 of the development may not materially impact the identified congested hotspots, there could be traffic implications with the remaining development of the site identified in the Site Allocations: Locksway Road, Milton (2014) report and July 2015 update”.

The Applicant’s Transport Assessment ignores reality.

It dismisses the “rat-running” distortion of the 2014 count as “unlikely” when our evidence says otherwise (202 reported confirmations of the use of St James’ Hospital as a Rat-Run as at 15th March 2020). Instead it presumes a relationship between a Hospital Floor area and vehicles.

The relationship should be about use. Psychiatric Patients don’t drive every day and any vehicle movements that were made during the Hospital’s operations were generally associated with mental care staff and visitors. Similarly, the TA refers to the Child Dev’t Centre and Harbour School on the Phase 1 site as making up 45% of the floor area and hence 45% of the Hospital’s vehicle movements. Children do not drive either and Fairoak House and The Beeches therein were closed in 2014. This is why the Portsmouth Plan Transport Evidence Paper qualifies Homes England’s TA for the Phase 1 application.  It says HE’s TA “has not been formally approved” and “may not materially impact….”. To say otherwise would be both factually incorrect and a misstatement but from PCC’s perspective it’s also saying they cannot rely on it. The Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum too has already submitted evidence undermining the Homes England’s Transport Assessment’s claims.
It is absurd to conclude a proposed development of 230 houses and 485 car-spaces will reduce vehicular movements to that applicable to that same part of a Hospital when it was operational. There is absolutely no credibility in such a conclusion. Is it at all conceivable with parking for 485 vehicles there will only be 76 departures and 24 arrivals in the morning peak? No of course not.
In any case, what MT4 is saying is that even if it were to be re-used for a hospital, the additional traffic must be capable of being “satisfactorily accommodated”.

We are the joint 4th most Congested City outside London and the junctions at the southern end of the Eastern Rd; Velder Avenue/Milton Rd/Rodney Rd cannot meet current peak demands and nether can Goldsmith Avenue/Eastney Rd. The Transport Assessment takes no proper account of developments elsewhere impacting on the already congested road network such as the Kingston Prison redevelopment for 267 apartments.

Increasing traffic congestion from this scheme is inevitable because our local highway network is unable to operate efficiently now when peak demand exceeds capacity. Policy MT4 is explicit:- redevelopment of the hospital must be capable of being accommodated.

4) Excessive Car-Parking The car-parking element is 485 spaces whereas the current PCC Parking standards on 230 houses and apartments in this location should be 352. PCC’s emerging Parking Policy would allow just 270. That alone  means the applicant is intending to generate additional traffic above what PCC currently permit and intends to restrict in the future. Ironically PJL claims the site is accessible for public services/amenities and is good for walking and cycling whereas the rationale for the excessive car-parking appears to assume otherwise.

At a time when PCC is committed to being “Net Zero-Carbon” by 2030 in terms of emissions such a high level of car-parking is at best mischievous and at worst negligent.

5) Road Traffic Air Pollution From Proposed New Development

The applicant’s AQ Statement recognises that “Development should, wherever possible help to improve local environmental conditions such as air and water quality” but then says:- ‘the focus of planning policies and decisions should be on whether proposed development is an acceptable use of land, rather than the control of processes or emissions (where these are subject to separate pollution control regimes). Planning decisions should assume that these regimes will operate effectively.’

This both undermines causes and effects and misleads the reader into thinking because PCC has a regime and the will to control it, the development will be acceptable. That’s factually untrue and traffic from the development feeds into the local Air Quality Management Area 9 covering parts of Eastern and Milton Roads and Velder Avenue. PCC does not yet have a lawful Air Quality Plan.

The latest 2019 AQ Report identifies pollution levels in AQMA 9 are rising and currently they are only within “Legal” limits by 6%. It describes the 2017-2018 NO2 annual average change  as being “moderately adverse”  and the “NO2 annual average exhibits an upward trend in the last 5 years demonstrating an AQ deterioration in the long-term similar to the previously reported 5 year trend.”

The Applicant’s AQ Statement concludes “concentrations of relevant pollutants (NO2, PM10 and PM2.5) at nearby sensitive receptors and at the Proposed Development are predicted to meet the relevant air quality objectives in the opening year. Therefore, it is considered that no mitigation measures will be required during the operational phase“.  That is an unscientific conclusion. As the outgoing Director Public Health admitted at the PCC Committee recommending the Mini Clean -Air Charging Zone, the Council’s predictions are based around modelling which could be erroneous.

There are rising pollution levels in AQMA 9 and the City has never reached legal compliance with air pollution targets since the legal limits set in 2010 were imposed together. Owing to the improbability of reaching legal compliance for many years to come, it would be unsafe to allow this scheme.

The absence of any substantive evidence or likelihood the use of the development will not damage air quality and will not be injurious to the health and well-being of existing residents elsewhere in Mliton is contra to the “cautionary principle” required in decision making involving potential threats to Public Health.

6) Absence of Renewable Energy  Nowhere  in the proposed scheme is there any adoption of “Renewable Energy”. The NPPF at para 150:- New development should be planned for in ways that: a) avoid increased vulnerability to the range of impacts arising from climate change. When new development is brought forward in areas which are vulnerable, care should be taken to ensure that risks can be managed through suitable adaptation measures, including through the planning of green infrastructure; and b) can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as through its location, orientation and design. Any local requirements for the sustainability of buildings should reflect the Government’s policy for national technical standards.
Why is there no Solar PV on roofs of new buildings? These can be installed in the construction phase using Solar Tiles. It is irresponsible to expect future residents to have to retro-fit them.

The applicant’s Energy Statement says:- “Due to the nature of this scheme, renewable technologies have been discounted. The report highlights lower energy consumption can be achieved by using energy efficient, be lean and be clean measures, which will bring benefits to the development throughout the lifetime of the building rather than the lifetime of a technology.

That is not acceptable when the Council declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and set a Zero Emissions Target for 2030.

There is a disused Boiler House (Lancaster House) with external brickwork in exceptional condition and because there will be a network of service pipes for steam heating throughout the Hospital, the retention of this building for a renewable communal heating scheme would be eminently more sustainable than demolition.

7) Harm to the Setting of the Grade II Listed BuildingThere is harm to the setting of the Grade II Listed Hospital implicit in the Heritage Assessment which identifies pre-1909 structures as “Significant” and says there there will be a degree of heritage harm to the designed grounds and the asylum buildings. This contravenes the intentions of the Portsmouth Plan Policy MT4 requiring the integrity and appearance of the building to be preserved. The integrity and appearance is compromised by the construction of new houses and car-parking spaces on the female (west) and male (east) Airing Courts which are intrinsically connected to the main building. The applicant actually acknowledges that too because his Heritage Statement reports:-

“…. It is thus the case that views out eastwards from this location were designed to be particularly ‘open’ or uninterrupted. However, the new dwellings unavoidably bring new built form into the former eastern airing grounds here (where there was not previously built form), and somewhat closer to the asylum buildings. This results in a small degree of heritage harm to the designed grounds and the asylum buildings

and:-

Para 7.39. “…… it is the case that new built form is introduced into the former eastern airing grounds, where there was not previously built form; and thus the new build unavoidably results in a small degree of heritage harm to the designed grounds and the asylum buildings, including the chapel“.

and again:-

7.40. “The new dwellings at Area 3 area situated in the former western airing grounds. They are in a single row, and comprise two pairs of semi-detached homes, and a short terrace of three homes…..  it is the case that new built form is introduced into the former western airing grounds, where there was not previously built form; and thus the new build unavoidably results in a small degree of heritage harm to the designed grounds and the asylum buildings.

Internally, there is damage to the Entertainment Hall. It was placed at the heart of the building and offered a focus on life outside of the purely clinical setting.  It’s Gothic Byzantine features reflect the design of the building and are a testament to mental health regimes of the time.  The loss of this feature within the applicant’s scheme is unacceptable. It would surely be better to preserve it as a social space which reflects the heritage of the building.

8) Health Impacts The applicant’s Health Impact Assessment identifies themes using a Health Urban Planning Checklist and concluded it will have positive health effects for all of the following 11 key health themes:-  Housing quality and design;  Access to healthcare services and other social infrastructure;  Access to open space and nature;  Air quality, noise and neighbourhood amenity; Accessibility and active travel;  Crime reduction and community safety;  Access to healthy food;  Access to work and training;  Social cohesion and lifetime neighbourhoods;  Minimising the use of resources; and  Climate change.

This scheme is to redevelop a Hospital in a quality landscape. This is a use which gets to the heart of a community especially when it was created out of local funds for the benefit of local people. At a time when the City is bereft of adequate health facilities but is over-burdened with development and traffic congestion and also suffers a 75% under-provision of green-spaces, how can this proposal ever be considered as having a positive health impact on the local community?

The Health Impact Assessment recognises the nearest GP Surgery is at  Devonshire Avenue is at the limit of comfortable walking distance but it omits to say it’s closing!

The development destroys green spaces, harms the SPA, degrades the air quality and compromises the Council’s aspiration for “Net Zero Carbon Emissions” by 2030. It does nothing for social cohesion or improving health. Indeed it is far more likely to lead to the reverse.

9) Insufficiency in “Affordable Homes” and non-compliance with PCS19 and “Providing Affordable Homes in Portsmouth” Brief of 2019.  Notwithstanding the applicant’s reliance on MT4 to deliver housing on St James’ Hospital to replace  existing health-care uses is no longer sustainable within the spirit of the NPPF, there would be far too low a provision of Affordable Housing for a development of this scale anyway. This City needs more Affordable Family Houses rather than more “Affordable” Apartments. However, this scheme proposes only 7 Affordable Houses. 18 of the Affordable Homes are in a pair of 3 Storey Apartment Blocks overshadowing Brasted Court, justified by a claim they compliment the scale and form of the adjacent Falcon House. Falcon House is a 2 Storey building. This both illustrates the applicant’s lack of appreciation of the site and the neighbourhood, but it also shows his lack of willingness to comply with existing planning policies.

10) Increased Stresses on Community Infrastructure Policy MT4 in the Portsmouth Plan 2001-2011 carried forward into the 2011-2026 Plan, assumed strategic policies on transport, health and education services would be achieved to sustain the growth. The 2001 Plan aimed to secure housing with an adequate supply of health and education services together with a City free from unnecessary traffic congestion and with a choice of effective public transport systems and alternatives to the car. The 2011 Plan aimed to make Portsmouth an accessible city with sustainable and integrated transport; and by ensuring there is adequate supporting infrastructure for the new development and growth of the city.

 

Core Objective 2 of the 2011-2026 Portsmouth Plan aspires to make Portsmouth an accessible City with a sustainable  and integrated transport system but it is not achieved. Traffic congestion is rising and the Council has no means of improving public transport to enable any switch away from car-dependency.

Core Objective 6 aspires to encourage and enable healthy choices and appropriate access to healthcare and support. However that is totally undermined by expanding GP waiting lists and rising deficits in hospital bed numbers leading to a worsening of health outcomes and a consequential increased costs to the nation.

Core Objective 8 aims to ensure adequacy of supporting infrastructure for development and growth but also totally fails when there are rising deficits in school-place sufficiency in the right locations. The Council’s bolt-on-solution of creating temporary classrooms in playgrounds as a reaction to the growing numbers of children risks higher levels of  childhood obesity with the loss of playgrounds for activity breaks and outdoor PE.

Effectively these three failures in the Core Objectives have contributed to increases in Portsmouth’s relative high levels of deprivation, comparative low-life expectancy and lower than average educational achievement. The Applicant’s Health impact Assessment does not stand scrutiny and this application could never redress these local imbalances whereas it might do if it was retained as a Hospital.

This application must be refused. 

It is not the obligation of the City Council to underwrite developers profits because they choose to overbid for sites. It is their business to professionally appraise development opportunities and if they miscalculate then that is their problem. That’s “developers risk”.

It is not the City Council’s responsibility to subsidise landowner’s land values with inappropriate planning consents either.

The City Council’s role is to enable “Sustainable Development” compliant with the Statutory Plan and the NPPF. This scheme does neither.

Rod Bailey

Chairman Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum

15 March 2020