By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas
THE public has decided how a field on Manor Way, Lee-on-the-Solent will be used for allotments and a rest garden so that the council can now develop a detailed plan.
Last Wednesday, Gosport Borough Council’s Community Board received a report on the public consultation – held in February and March – about how the land should be utilised.
More than 50 percent of the respondents opted for a 60 percent/40 percent split between allotments and a rest garden with the latter located directly off Manor Way and the allotments behind on the remainder of the site.
The land was purchased by the council in 2015 from the Homes and Communities Agency – the valuation recorded in the minutes of the Economic Development Board was £200,000 – and designated as ‘open space’ in the council’s Local Plan.
However, there was a long delay after Japanese Knotweed was found on the site and, in 2017, the council decided it had to be removed before it could proceed with plans on how to develop the community space.
In the comments received during the public consultation, those living close to the field expressed concerns about parking – one wrote: “We live in Olave Close and a major concern for us is the lack of car parking space and the control of the car park. We often have problems getting into the Close when the Tennis club have competitions this problem will only get worse when the rest garden and allotments are opened.”
There were also concerns about anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
However, these worries received little attention in the Community Board discussion – Councillor John Beavis (Conservative, Lee West) did raise the issue of ASB when asking about parking for the disabled – though they will have to be addressed in a formal planning application.
Rather, councillors were exercised by whether there was a need for a rest garden – an issue raised by Councillor Peter Chegwyn (Liberal Democrats, Leesland, deputising for Councillor Westerby).
Conservative councillors Graham Burgess (Lee East, attending ex-officio) and Piers Bateman (Lee East) responded by describing it as, “a place where people can sit and relax”, a place of, “peace and quiet”, respectively.
Board Chairman Councillor Philip Raffaelli (Conservative, Anglesey) agreed the allotments should be made ‘statutory allotments’ and undertook to ensure this occurs.
He also accepted – in response to Councillor Dawn Kelly (Liberal Democrats, Christchurch) – that council officers should contact all those who had expressed an interest in having an allotment in Lee to ensure they still wished to be considered for a plot.
The vote was not unanimous but, with a significant majority, the board agreed the council could develop its plans for the Manor Way open space with 60 percent of the land given to allotments and 40 percent for the rest garden.
Photograph (above): The entrance to the Manor Way ‘open space’