The Regulatory Board last night (23 July 2019) gave approval to the phase 1 plans for the regeneration of Priddy’s Hard by the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust. This is an exciting development which will see the retention and regeneration of the many historic aspects of Priddy’s Hard while providing a range of facilities ranging from an enhanced museum and conference facilities with a bar and restaurant, multiple employment opportunities and high quality accommodation. The development is being supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the LIBOR grant scheme, Historic England and Elite Homes. Historic England is fully behind the application which reflects Gosport’s status as a Heritage Action Zone and which will bring benefits to residents and visitors alike.

There was concern, however, that the development would generate a nitrate and nutrient run off problem which would lead to an adverse effect on the Portsmouth Harbour Lagoons which are a European and Internationally designated habitat and protected accordingly. Consequently the recommendation before the Board was to refuse the application until full mitigation to off-set any increased nutrient discharge had been agreed with the Environment Agency in accordance with the Habitats Regulations. Unfortunately, the Developer advised the Board that in the time required to achieve this, a number of the grants would run out of time placing the whole regeneration at risk. 

However, the Board ascertained that the construction phase of the development itself would not add to any nutrient problem so there would be no adverse environmental effect until the planned accommodation was occupied and Cllr Philip Raffaelli put forward an amendment (seconded by Cllr Lynn Hook) that the Board could support the application and the commencement of this critical regeneration of this Heritage site while still protecting the Environment by placing a condition on the developer to fully demonstrate that he had achieved the required mitigation to Natural England’s satisfaction before allowing occupation of the housing to be provided on the site. The legal and planning officers advised that that was an acceptable solution and the amended resolution granting the application with that condition was unanimously approved.

Hardway Councillor, Diane Furlong, said she was "pleased with the outcome that means we can finally move forward with a development that had been held up by various agencies who had now agreed, only to be further frustrated by the nitrates issue. This should be an attractive development in keeping with the historic nature of the area and providing a good mixture of uses."

Regulatory Board Chairman, Cllr Tony Jessop said: "This is a great example of Conservative members working together to find a solution that saves Priddys Hard development and the preservation of the historical buildings.

Officers had made their decision to refuse the application based on the objections from Natural England and were correct in doing so considering the legal position.

The issue of Nitrates in the water is of great concern to us all but should not prevent much needed development. The problem is with water treatment and agriculture. Natural England have seized on the building of homes as the only avenue open to them to make objections and I understand their position. What this really needs if for Ministers to take action and not leave it to Councils to deal with."