Plans for an 8.7 billion litre storage reservoir spanning 160 hectares in between Leigh Park, Havant and Rowlands Castle in East Hampshire has been granted permission to go ahead by neighbouring local authorities.
The detailed planning application for the reservoir, along with a separate one for the pipeline which is needed to fill and remove water to supply to customers, was considered and granted permission following hours of debate by councillors at Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council.
The Havant Thicket Reservoir in Havant, a collaboration between Portsmouth Water and Southern Water, will safeguard water resources for years to come for the South East.
The plan, submitted by Portsmouth Water, to build a reservoir, together with a visitor and education centre, picnic and play area, along with parking facilities for approximately 200 vehicles, has been an ambition in the borough for many years.
The reservoir, once complete will create a permanent wetland with bird watching facilities.
During the meetings, held at both local authorities, concerns were heard from The Woodland Trust, Havant Climate Alliance, Friends of the Earth and residents about the removal of ancient woodland. It was then highlighted that despite the loss of these trees, the exceptional benefits would protect unique habitats and precious local chalk streams, the rivers Itchen and Test.
As the nature of the existing site will change, Portsmouth Water has worked with environmental regulators to create an extensive programme to support the environment on and around the site. This includes the creation and improvement of around 200 hectares of woodland and pasture to support wildlife.
In addition, government regulators Natural England and the Environment Agency highlighted that they are satisfied that provided the mitigation and compensation strategy is secured and fully implemented the scheme would have delivered a suitable compensation strategy for the loss of irreplaceable habitats.
Councillor Clare Satchwell, Cabinet Lead for Planning, Hayling Seafront Strategy and Coastal Management at Havant Borough Council, said: “This major project has been talked about in the borough since the 1960s and after a comprehensive report and presentation at Havant's Planning Committee on June 3, the committee considered the applications for Havant Thicket Reservoir and gave permission, subject to completion of a section 106 legal agreement.
Planning Portfolio Lead at East Hampshire District Council, Councillor Angela Glass, added: “The reservoir will secure more reliable water supplies for the region as a whole. It will also help cater for a growth in the population and housing and more droughts as a result of climate change.”
Portsmouth Water chief executive Bob Taylor said: “It is great news that both Havant Borough and East Hampshire District’s planning committees have resolved to grant permission for our reservoir proposals – recognising the growing public need for reliable and resilient water resources and our ambitions and commitment to support the environment and communities.
“As well as securing much-needed future water supplies, Havant Thicket Reservoir will help safeguard the River Itchen and River Test, two of Hampshire’s rare and world-famous chalk streams, by enabling less water to be taken from them. It will also create a new green leisure hub for people and wildlife.
“I would like to thank the councils for their support on this vitally important scheme and we’re also very grateful to local people and community representatives for their strong backing and valuable feedback over a number of years, which have helped shape the plans and our approach in many areas.”
Final legal commitments for the reservoir scheme will now be agreed with both authorities and full permission could be granted by early summer. Work would then begin with further environmental work to support wildlife mitigation. Havant Thicket Reservoir could then open fully to the public in 2029.
Havant Borough Council also granted outline permission for further earthworks and built infrastructure around the reservoir, and for a pipeline to fill it with surplus water from the Bedhampton Springs in winter.
More information can be found at www.portsmouthwater.co.uk/havant-thicket-reservoir