Published on Friday, 6th October 2016
 
A decade after the last attempt to develop the redundant ex-military buildings at Fraser Ranges and we’re heading for another round of planning applications. So far all we have is a plan to widen the access road. Some form of residential scheme will follow later.
 
I had some discussions about this with Hampshire and Regional, the company that now controls the site, back in the spring. At that point anyway they had no clear view on how the development would be laid out, on building heights or on flood defences. 
 
The Fraser site is one of the most constrained brownfield sites in the city, which after all is why it has been left to rot. There is however nothing to prevent the existing buildings (or something of equivalent scale) being brought back into use for commercial purposes. The main issues are:
 
- flood defences
The City Council is under no obligation to provide flood defences outside the existing residential areas and so the full cost of a new sea wall will fall to the developers. It will cost millions and may make doing anything uneconomic.
 
- Wildlife
The area along the link road is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), meaning the protection of the plants, birds and animals that live there has to be carefully considered.
 
- Fort Cumberland
Fort Cumberland is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. While it might not look like much from the land, from the sea it is an important structure and any new development should not overly dominate it.
 
Without knowing what the final proposal is, it is impossible to say whether it is good enough or not. However the road application does cause me some concern as it would involve concreting over a SSSI.
 
The previous council administration ended up with a million pound legal bill after repeatedly refusing to sell the land to allow road widening as part of a previous proposal. That judgement still stands and the council will unquestionably have to allow the road to be widened if and when a new residential scheme is approved. 
 
What worries me is that this application would allow a road to be built in isolation. Granted, it’s hard to see why anyone would spend money building a road to nowhere, but they still could and that does not feel quite right.
 
If you want to comment, the planning reference number is 16/01438/FUL.
 
Tags: Planning