Picture: Waterfront Redevelopment Plan
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but this IS a very serious matter (and hence this post is a bit longer than usual).
There is an application for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Business Park near Fleet Railway Station by Helical Bar plc. This application will have obvious and undesired implications for Fleet Pond Nature Reserve.
From Hart District Council (my emphasis in bold):
“Last February (2008) the Council refused planning permission for the redevelopment of the site for 206 dwellings, for a number of reasons, including the loss of the site for employment purposes. An appeal has been lodged against this decision to the Secretary of State and an inquiry is due to commence on 6 January (2009) at the Civic Offices in Fleet”
“Any person or local body who wishes to make representations on any part of the Waterfront development, be that the principle of the residential development of the site, the layout, or the community infrastructure which they consider might be necessary if the appeal were to be allowed, is welcome to attend the Public Inquiry to give their views to the Planning Inspector.”
Full details on the proposed development can be found elsewhere on the Hart web site.
If you have time this Tuesday and are concerned about this matter, we strongly encourage to you to call in, even if for only a short time, to register your interest.
Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, will be a making a formal objection speech as part of the appeal and here is an extract:
“Fleet Pond Society objects to the construction of blocks of 185 flats and 17 three-storey houses on land currently used for employment. The local authority has a recognised deficit of small business and industrial units in Hart District and it goes against their policy of retaining employment land to permit any change of use of this site.
The implications for Fleet Pond Local Nature Reserve and for the land immediately adjacent to the development site which is also notified Site of Special Scientific Interest are significant. There will be an unacceptable increase in disturbance from some 400 or more people who, with the totally inadequate allocation of open space within the development site, will see Fleet Pond as their back garden. Children need open space for exercise; places where they can have freedom to play ball games, ride tricycles and bicycles in a safe environment close to their homes and within sight of parents. There is no provision for informal play on the development site and this has potential for further erosion of the informal and quiet ambience of the nature reserve.
Fleet Pond is not a public park nor is it a country park; in 1977 Hart District Council designated Fleet Pond as a Local Nature Reserve, which requires any amenity facility or public recreation to take full account of the potential impact on the wildlife. People come to Fleet Pond and enjoy it for its appearance of naturalness and lack of formal man-made structures other than those needed for fishing, for bridging water culverts or providing dry footways over very wet ground. We have installed fencing around those areas which are managed by grazing, but where possible these are placed such as to be as invisible as possible. It is an unfortunate fact that we will need to increase the number of areas that will need to be fenced for their protection. There is always a small minority of irresponsible dog owners who allow dogs to run free and uncontrolled through sensitive wildlife sites and people who walk off the marked paths, trample ground plants and disturb wildlife in the sensitive areas. This can only increase with increases in population.
We were pleased to see an education centre included in this application but our first responsibility must be to the potential impact on the SSSI from such a high density of dwellings.”
We will be keeping you informed of progress.