Proposed English Coastal Path (South) progress report

The English Coastal Path (South) is part of the proposal by Natural England (NE) to achieve as full a coastal path as possible along the area bordering the Solent. It is part of the coastal path project which covers the whole of England.

In our last newsletter we set out the method and format for defining the path and the full text of our consultation comments on the important Highcliffe to Calshot section. This report brings the developments up to date although these are running later than expected. Progress is being made however, with more sections out to consultation.

The identification map above is published again for ease of reference:

Three sections have now been published and the consultation period is now complete, although as far as we are aware, there has been no final decision on these sections from the Secretary of State:

  • Section 1 – Highcliffe to Calshot
  • Section 5 – Portsmouth to South Hayling
  • Section 7 – East Head to Shoreham

Section 4 – Gosport to Portsmouth has now been published with consultation comments due by 15th August 2019 together with Section 2 – Calshot to Gosport with comments due by 11th September 2019.

Solent Protection Society (SPS) has responded to the Gosport to Portsmouth section and our comments are set out below. We will also be responding to the Calshot to Gosport section.

Section 6 – South Hayling to East Head is now expected to be published in October 2019 and finally the Isle of Wight section in February 2020… we shall see!

SPS is supportive of better access to the Solent shoreline. Our main concern is with the safeguarding of the many protected areas and sanctuaries for birds, wildlife and environmental habitat along our shores and the control of access to “spreading room”, that is the area between the path and the water.

Calshot to Gosport

The proposed route from Calshot to Gosport uses the Hythe ferry together with the ferry at the mouth of the Hamble river. This avoids the large Southampton docks industrial area though we feel it is a pity some of the western shore north of Hythe has been omitted. Along the River Hamble the north side of the river is difficult to access, the south side is more accessible, thus using the ferry is a sensible solution. SPS has asked what will happen if, in the future, the ferries cease to run and Natural England have stated that a review will be held by a new team in that event. The path on the eastern shore of Southampton Water diverts inland a little in a few places but the beach is still available where it is above high water. The path cannot officially transit the beach as part of its route.

Gosport to Portsmouth

Portchester Castle from Port Solent

The Gosport to Portsmouth route makes the best of a job made difficult by the large tracts of MOD land for which no access can be granted. There are a few miles of dreary inland road walking, but the stretch from Fareham Creek via Portchester Castle to Port Solent, is well worth exploring. South of the Naval Dockyard, the route follows the established Millennium Promenade, a fine route which explores the rich history of the old harbour waterfront. SPS is aware of a concern regarding access to the Camber Docks raised when the Land Rover/BAR development (now ‘Ineos Team UK’) was built in Old Portsmouth.

There is a long established public right of access to walk the perimeter of the Camber Docks which includes access to the memorial to the lost crew of the ‘Wilhelmina J’. We note that the preferred route clearly shows this, but we raised a concern that the draft wording could be interpreted by the current tenants on the site to prevent public access to the dockside for extended periods, rather than the brief interruptions for which the documented diversion is intended. We believe that most members of the public would wish to simply wait for a few minutes while a boat is craned in or out, resuming their walk once the activity is complete.

More detailed information on each section can be found be clicking this link.

The section maps are detailed and the text gives explanations about the various decisions taken along the proposed route. The full environmental appraisals are also available for each section.

Eastney – Fraser Range development proposal

Solent Protection Society takes a close interest in the conservation of the natural heritage and historic assets of the Solent shoreline. In particular, we are concerned with safeguarding the views towards that shoreline by users of the Solent, a viewpoint not always given priority in planning applications.

The fortifications at the eastern end of Southsea seafront are of significant historical value, with Fort Cumberland a particular highlight, considered the most impressive piece of eighteenth century defensive architecture remaining in England. The context within which the fort is situated, on the low shingle spit at the entrance to Langstone Harbour, should be protected with any development in the vicinity suitably moderated.

SPS has objected to a plan to redevelop the former Fraser Range for housing, a site immediately to the south west of Fort Cumberland in this image from Google Earth. The existing buildings on the Fraser Range site date from more recent occupation of the land by the Ministry of Defence and while we note that there have been valid objections raised by others on grounds of twentieth century archaeological significance, our objection to this proposal is based on the adverse impact on the views towards Fort Cumberland from the sea.

The plans show five significant buildings immediately fronting the sea, two of which (Building 2 and Building 5) are redevelopment of existing structures, while Buildings 3, 4 and 6 are completely new developments.

Building 2 and Building 5 are existing two storey structures with flat roofing which includes small covered service access structures. We do not consider that these existing roof structures provide a precedent for the addition of a full third storey that the developer has added to each of these buildings.

While the increased height of Buildings 2 and 5 alone represents an unacceptable impact on the view from the sea, the new structures, Buildings 3, 4 and 6, are significantly more damaging to the skyline. All three of the buildings are new, and buildings 4 and 6 are drawn at a full five storeys in height, dwarfing the two redeveloped buildings and obliterating the view of Fort Cumberland from the south west.

Given the potential for future development of the south east corner of Portsea Island as an important destination for cultural tourism within the city, in our response to the planning application we have urged Portsmouth City Council to reject this development and safeguard the heritage context of the Eastney spit.

This is a particularly pertinent example of Solent Protection Society’s commitments both to the preservation of the Solent area’s cultural heritage and the maintenance of the view of the Solent shoreline from the sea.

Portsmouth Cathedral – ‘Soup of Souls’ art installation

For those with an interest in the maritime history of Portsmouth and the Solent, the current exhibition in Portsmouth’s ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ is well worth a visit. Described by one of our Council members as ‘without doubt, the most moving art installation’ he has ever seen, the work by Pete Codling, artist in residence at Portsmouth Cathedral, is remarkable. Eight massive charcoal drawings hang in the nave, each of the eight panels addressing a separate point in local maritime history. The panels cover loss of life in local waters from the sinking of the Mary Rose to the loss of the SS Mendi and more recently the loss of the crew of the Wilhemina J.

Please take this link to view a fifteen minute documentary film in which the artist describes the work and shows details from it. We understand that the exhibition is being retained in situ until June given overwhelming public response.

Southsea Seafront consultation closes on the 27 August

The Southsea Coastal Scheme have had well over a thousand survey responses so far – but still want more.

You can view the consultation materials here. There is scheme visualisation on YouTube here with audio description. If you visited their events and want to jump straight to the survey, you can find it here.

Once the feedback has been analysed, a cross-party working group at Portsmouth City Council will review the evidence and make a decision on which options to take forward. The Southsea Coastal Scheme will hold further public exhibitions in early November, before seeking planning permission towards the end of this year. Residents will again be able to give feedback to the council at this stage.

The consultation closes at 11.59pm on Monday 27 August 2018.

Portsmouth welcomes ‘Victoria of Wight’

The new Wightlink ferry for the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route arrived in Portsmouth Harbour today having left the shipyard in Turkey on Monday July 16. She’s been towed through the Mediterranean and north across the Bay of Biscay by the specialist offshore support vessel Amber II. ‘Victoria of Wight‘ can carry up to 178 cars and more than 1,000 passengers. Powered by ‘hybrid energy’ from a combination of batteries and conventional engines.

 

 

Consultation program for Southsea Coastal Scheme

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is responsible for delivering new flood defences along 4.5km of seafront, from Old Portsmouth to Eastney. Their aim is to create new defences that protect te heritage of the seafront whilst reducing the risk of flooding to over 8000 homes and businesses in Southsea for the next century. The work will transform the seafront for future generations alongside protecting the heritage that is so important to the people of Portsmouth.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme team are going to be out and about across the city in July holding a new series of consultation events on our emerging designs. These will be held at a number of locations around Portsmouth and Southsea during July 2018.  For details please take this link.

 

City of Portsmouth – Flood Defences

Proposals for new sea defences for the island city of Portsmouth are gaining increasing visibility among local residents, with two seemingly opposing views both now being publicly debated.  This work is in response to the Environment Agency Flood Risk Assessment, which predicts the sea level rising by up to 1.2 metres within the next one hundred years.  The “Old Portsmouth and GunWharf” Neighbourhood Forum meeting last night was treated to presentations by the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership and Portsmouth University School of Architecture lead Walter Mendeth on their respective proposals for improved flood defences for Portsea Island.  It was clear from the reaction of more than one hundred residents present that this essential program of work on the North Solent shore will attract high profile and high quality debate in coming years.  The SECP spokesman gave a comprehensive presentation on the process being followed by the organisations concerned, essential for the securing of appropriate central government funding of a ‘Hold the Line’ approach, while Walter Mendeth offered a more visionary, but as yet un-costed solution to this significant requirement for Portsmouth.

 

Solent Protection Society are watching these proposals with keen interest and would support a collaborative approach to the evolving design. While the ‘Hold the Line’ approach provides the essential backbone to a program of work which will attract the essential government funding, the lateral thinking introduced by the broad academic team which made up the ‘Elephant Cage’ project will inject an element of flair into the upcoming design stages which could give the final outcome the global appeal which it surely deserves.

Recognising the importance of Portsmouth as the United Kingdom’s only island city puts it on the same level as a small but historically significant island cities built worldwide from which significant maritime history has evolved. Placing Portsmouth on the same level as Venice may appear to be stretching the point, but we believe that it is critical that the plans for the city’s sea defences pay due regard to its heritage.

Queen Elizabeth – the carrier – comes home

Five years ago, two sections of the Royal Navy’s first new generation aircraft carrier left the shipbuilding yard in Portsmouth  en route for Rosyth, where final assembly of the ship was to take place.  It was to be the first time that a major ship for the Royal Navy would be built in sections, in multiple yards around the British Isles.

On Wednesday 16th August 2017, ‘Big Lizzie’ as she’s already affectionately known, came home to her home base in Portsmouth for the first time, greeted by a large crowd of well wishers who’d turned out early to line the waterfront between Southsea Castle and Old Portsmouth. I wasn’t the only member of the SPS Council up at 5:30 in the morning to be sure of a close up view.  In fact, I’d been awake at 3:30 that morning and had checked on Marine Traffic so see whether she really was in the area.  No doubt about it, clearly spinning her wheels in Freshwater Bay, waiting for the tide and the waiting crowds. Continue reading “Queen Elizabeth – the carrier – comes home”

Solent Protection Society Celebrates 50 Years

Posted on 23 May 2006

Solent Protection Society celebrated its 50th anniversary with a lunch for over 140 people at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes on 19th May.

Members and guests including Chris Huhne, MP for Eastleigh and Peter Viggers, MP for Gosport, heard the Society’s former President, Maldwin Drummond, a founder member of Solent Protection, talk about the Society’s work since its inception in 1956, including the successful opposition to an oil refinery in the Hamble River, a nuclear power station at Newtown River and an oil fired power station at Fawley.

More recently Solent Protection Society worked with other organisations and associations to oppose successfully the Container Ship Port at Dibden Bay and larger ferries on the route between Lymington and Yarmouth.

The Society continually monitors planning, development and pollution matters in the Solent area and, as a result of a successful campaign in 2004/05, reached an understanding with oil companies operating in Solent waters that they will use only double hull tankers, significantly diminishing the possibility of an oil spill in the Solent.

Mr Peter Nicholson, who became Solent Protection Society’s President last November, said that there were even more challenges for the Society in the future including the pressure for more development, the demand for more marina space, the importance of developing sustainable energy programmes and, in particular the Society is keeping a close eye on developments with the Government’s Marine Bill which is now pending.

Solent Protection has put forward a proposal for a Marine National Park in the Western Solent and has recently commissioned a research project on the subject, the results of which will be available later this year.

Referring to the proposed Marine National Park, Mr Nicholson said: “If properly set up this must make sense  although many people will be afraid that it will simply bring with it increasing levels of bureaucracy and management by civil servants with no relevant local experience. It will need careful planning to be successful and existing harbour authorities will probably be reluctant to support any proposal like this, but the Department of the Environment has reacted quite favourably so far to our paper on the matter and we expect to hear more in the autumn.”

Call for West Solent Marine National Park

Posted on 09 Mar 2006

The West Solent, a beautiful and busy waterway which stretches from Lepe Beach to The Needles, is under ever growing and conflicting pressures.

Popular with tourists, walkers, boating and watersport enthusiasts and fishermen, the Western Solent is also used by some commercial shipping, as well as the ferry service from Lymington to Yarmouth.

The Solent Protection Society is mounting a campaign to make the West Solent a Marine National Park, balancing its use for recreation with the conservation of its setting, its wildlife, fisheries and archaeological remains.

Professor Gerald Smart, representing the Society, says “We have drawn up a report that looks at the problems, and how the multitude of interests might best be co-ordinated by a partnership of mainly local organisations, in line with Marine National Parks in other parts of the world. We hope that our ideas will get a lot of support”.

There is a huge growth of interest in conservation of sea areas, and the Society hope that the Government’s proposed Marine Bill may allow Marine National Parks to be officially designated and funded.

Solent Protection Society is consulting widely on the report.