14 January 2021
The Tipner “super peninsular” is the latest target for house builders, with Portsmouth City Council planning to build more than 4,000 new houses and a new one million sq ft marine hub at Tipner West. What at first seems like a chance to reclaim a brownfield site for new housing is in fact a land-grab of 27 hectares of already protected intertidal habitats, plus a further three hectares of protected land and additional undesignated but important wildlife areas, all to be drained and concreted over. These habitats help to protect Portsmouth from erosion, whilst providing natural carbom storage and filtration.
As one of the most densely populated cities in the UK, Portsmouth struggles to accommodate the significant additional housing demanded by Government. There is limited space and the existing infrastructure is already under pressure.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) projections for population growth in cities are being increasingly questioned by campaigners and MPs from all parties. These are the figures used in determining the number of new houses required in Portsmouth, yet the population is not growing anything like as quickly as has been forecast. Conservative and Labour MPs in Warwickshire have claimed that a population projection for Coventry exaggerates growth by up to 60,000 people over the next two decades, resulting in “major incursions into the countryside”, with areas including the Forest of Arden being zoned for housing unnecessarily (1).
In our current climate emergency, we must not destroy our green spaces and vital wildlife habitats to shore up the profits of housebuilders when the need for these homes has not been adequately established. Where we do allow new house-building, it must be accompanied by the necessary infrastructure. Where there are homes, there must also be places to work, adequate health facilities and support for active travel.
(1) Tories call for inquiry into ‘bad data’ to justify rural housebuilding The Guardian, 22/11/2020 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/22/tories-call-for-inquiry-into-bad-data-to-justify-rural-housebuilding