By Connor Steel
FAREHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL have confirmed they have granted registration of the Haven House Visitor Centre based at Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ (ACV); a move that has stalled plans to sell parts of the site amidst an ongoing campaign that has received thousands of signatures.
Controversy reigned when Hampshire County Council (HCC) announced the proposals to shut two buildings on this site; Haven House and Haven Cottage. The former currently incorporates the Visitor Centre and is a popular community hub that regularly gets 85,000 visitors per annum according to an official council statistic.
Although Hampshire County Council said it was facing “unprecedented budgetary pressures” and needed to address the projected funding gap at the reserve, concerns were raised that the buildings would be sold onto developers; thus removing features such as a café, meeting room, public toilets and membership sale point.
In response to the outrage from local residents, the Hill Head Residents’ Association submitted a recent ACV nomination form to Fareham Borough Council and this was granted on November 14 (Monday). It will remain there for the next five years and legally offers protection against any future HCC proposals to sell the Centre.
It has been explained that HCC must notify Fareham Borough Council if it decides to go ahead with the plan to sell the Visitor Centre before November 2027. At this particular stage Hill Head Resident’s Association will automatically be given a timeframe of six months to prepare their own bid for the purchase of these facilities.
The ACV further states that the Visitor Centre cannot be sold to anybody else (except to Hill Head Resident’s Association) until this six month timeframe has expired. HCC have stressed that no decision will be finalised until a meeting on December 8, which will follow a detailed analysis of visitor and local resident consultation.
Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Seán Woodward, stated: “I am very pleased that Haven House has met the criteria to be deemed an Asset of Community Value. This is an incredibly well attended venue with a popular café for local residents as well as regular walkers, cyclists, surfers & swimmers alike.”
He continued to offer an argument against proposals, adding: “The Visitor Centre showcases art & craftwork from local talent & also holds community events throughout the year. Haven House is a perfect candidate to be registered as an ACV & I hope this decision goes some way to protect this venue longer into the future.”
Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve is open from 9:30am to 4pm daily with tickets ranging between £5.50 and £17 depending on type, whilst annual memberships are available. The site does however close to the public when gusty winds of 40mph or above are forecast, with further information and perks available online here.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (2JDJFHD): Titchfield Haven nature reserve visitor centre and tea rooms; the subject of a petition from local residents and visitors after HCC had earlier proposed to shut two buildings on its site.