Popular river walk and historic border in jeopardy

There is another threat on the horizon from developers who seem determined to destroy the last remaining gaps between small Towns and villages in the area.

Although not an official application yet, an opportunist proposal to build 49 homes in Westwood Close, off Westbourne Avenue and very near to the county border beside the River Ems looks imminent.

The possibility of an application for building housing on this site is already causing concern to residents in both Emsworth and Westbourne.The application is likely to include 16 affordable homes. The area is highly sensitive as it forms part of the remaining natural gap between Emsworth and Westbourne, being so close to the river EMS it forms part of the flood zone risk area, although only considered flood risk level 1.

According to the developer’s rep., Mr Jeseph, at a recent meeting held in Westbourne, it means the flood zone 1 level would not stop the application being approved by Havant Borough Council on flooding issues alone.

He said that the historic Sussex Border Path would need to be diverted towards the river. That alone is a major decision (not made locally but by HCC) and as the path is registered (and historic) could cause upheaval and untold disruption.

Mr Jeseph also said he was aware of the temporary TPOs (supposed to stop their destruction) placed on some trees and hedges and said his clients would not oppose them. He said further work and investigations are ongoing around the ecology of the area, its landscaping and expected noise levels.


He implied that the land was part of the assembly of sites needed for Havant’s emerging local plan; the site in NOT listed as such.


A development consultation forum will be presented at the Plaza on the 16th of January followed by a formal planning application and a further presentation.


Copies of the outline proposals had been given to Emsworth Councillors.


A lot of questions were asked at the meeting, demonstrating the level of concern felt by residents. Most were focused around the loss of a local gap between Emsworth and Westbourne, the impact of the development on local flooding and the overall impact on a much loved walk close to the river.


Residents think that this is an opportunist development in a highly sensitive area of Emsworth.


As part of a popular local walk along the border with West Sussex, this area has always been seen as unsuitable for development and is not mentioned as a site in 2016 Housing Statement published as part of the Havant Local Plan consultation.


Both Emsworth and Westbourne would have objected if it had been.


Westbourne residents are planning a campaign to stop building on the much loved site and Emsworth will too. Losing another gap between Westbourne village and Emsworth Town would leave both very exposed to further unplanned development.


Possibly the Town’s councillors, with support from local groups such as the Residents Association, which has both Charles Ashe and Jo Dyer as planning representatives, along with Westbourne Parish Council and the Emsworth Forum may be involved.


The Emsworth Forum has submitted its newly prepared Local Plan for consideration in the last month or so. Residents and businesses have been busy ‘having their say’ about that.


Lesley DiFonzo and Ray Cobbett