Fawley New Town

This is the third report in our annual newsletter concerning plans by Fawley Waterside Ltd. to build a new small town on the site of the former Fawley Power Station.

The development of this power station site will provide 1500 new homes and commercial properties. Some 470 of the homes will be affordable properties in a scheme which will cost nearly £1bn. There will be an underground car park with more than 2,000 spaces, a 98-metre-high landmark building to replace the former power station’s iconic chimney, a 150-bedroom hotel and boat stack to store up to 600 vessels.

The plan features almost 100,000 square metres of new commercial, civic and employment areas, along with public open space. An urban forest will be planted to create a buffer between the industrial and residential areas. A canal will be formed to create a dock area and berthing facilities for leisure boats and yachts and a two hectare area has been cleared to provide a habitat for wildfowl.

The scheme requires final approval by the New Forest District Council (NFDC) and the New Forest National Park (NFNP).

The Master Plan

When we wrote our last report, the NFDC planning department had published a twelve page letter to the developers asking for clarification of several aspects, more information on other aspects, and expressing concern about some features of the plan. As a result the developers issued a revised plan in April.

The main revisions are:

  • Residential properties in the Northern Quarter have been removed and replaced with commercial floor space.
  • Height and location of the landmark buildings in the Heart of Town have been amended and the height and form of the principal landmark building has been reduced.
  • The 11 storey crystal tower has been replaced with a mixed use building of 4-5 storeys.
  • Tree Planting Plan has been amended to create an oak tree lined boulevard and introduce trees along the esplanade.
  • The form and layout of the Saline lagoon/creek has been amended.
  • Flood defence works have been included within the design code.

Following this there was a second round of public consultation
and Solent Protection Society sent the following reply:

These further comments are from the Solent Protection Society (SPS) which exists to protect the Solent and its tidal rivers and estuaries for future generations. The comments are primarily directed at the element of the scheme within the control of NFDC however we have copied them to NFNP as that aspect of the scheme in the national park, while of less concern to SPS, is an integral part of the whole and does have some impact on the waterfront.

The comments are a response to the revisions in the 2020 application referred to as Applications 1 & 2 but under the original reference 19/10581. We understand our comments on the original application will remain valid though clearly some of them have
been addressed in the latest documents, which is welcome. SPS welcomes the overall revisions that have been made including the additional information such as views from the sea and greater environmental information. We may have missed some of this information in the many earlier documents but have found more this time.

  1. We support the revisions to the landscape proposals and articulation of some of the buildings particularly along the waterfront. It is a pity that no trees are proposed in front of the National Grid Fawley Sub-station (NGFSS), where the coastal
    path will run. While we recognize that this land is presently outside the application boundary there seems to be a space between Eastern Rd and the High Water Line of about 20 metres, so room for trees. The NGFSS buildings and land are, we understand, leased from the landlord, Fawley Waterside so the trees could be conditioned as off-site works in support of the proposal.
  2. The plan says “Office uses and a marina may be included … subject to demand and viability.” We are concerned if this means the central canal may not be an obligation as it is central to the proposals whether or not it has a marina use.
  3. The Marine Management Plan (MMP) is admirable and we would hope could be implemented in its entirety. We would like to see, as a minimum, monthly water quality testing throughout the year with an annual report, for the life of the
    project as part of the legal agreement. We would like to see the type of craft to be managed, listed under Scope of MMP Requirements, Schedule of Actions, point 4, expanded to include PWCs (Personal Watercraft). These are not categorised as boats and they are the type of craft most likely to offend.
  4. The surface water drainage system relies on drainage direct to the Solent, we would like to see evidence that the applicant has considered whether this drainage will remain satisfactory taking into account the likely sea-level rise that will take place during the life of the development.
  5. We have not seen any evidence that beneficial use of dredgings will be considered whenever possible. While this may, we hope, be part of a Marine Licence under the South Marine Plan in the future it should in our view also be included in the Marine Management Plan as part of the replenishment of the salt marshes which are subject to erosion. Finally we consider the illustrated views from the sea for the revised proposals to be an improvement on the waterfront including the landscaping, lighting and the landmark buildings which, despite some reduction in height, remain sufficiently distinctive.

On 19 July the planning officers’ report to the NFDC Planning Committee was published. This included a short section on the response of the Solent Protection Society which, we feel, is a good summary of our position and gives SPS due weighting. It reads as follows:

10.6 Solent Protection Society:- Concerns were initially raised that the proposals would not adequately meet policies for the area. In particular, there were concerns relating to the size and scale of buildings fronting the water; it was felt light pollution would be to the detriment of the marine environment; it was considered more tree planting was needed to the coastal edge. There were also concerns about storm water overflows and the monitoring of water quality. With the amended proposals, the revisions to the landscaping are supported, but feel the visual impact on the retained national grid building could be better mitigated; consider the Marine Management Plan to be admirable; would expect dredged material to be beneficially reused; the amended designs as seen from the sea are an improvement and are sufficiently distinctive.

On 27 July NFDC’s Planning Committee met and gave Outline Planning approval which included 69 conditions some of which will be of interest to SPS, for example:

  • approval will be needed for the source and transport to the site of the material needed to raise the height of the land by about 1 metre.
  • regarding the foul drainage, approval of sewage disposal plans will be needed before each development stage.

The developers expect to continue demolition of existing buildings this year and next, including the iconic 198m high chimney, with infrastructure development beginning in 2022. The first houses are expected to be available by 2024 and the development will continue until 2035. It is expected that detailed planning permissions will be sought separately for each stage. SPS intend to continue monitoring throughout and to make representations whenever appropriate.