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Permission sought for reservoir in Hampshire

Words: Laura Edgar
Havant Thicket Reservoir visua / Atkins

A planning application has been submitted for the creation of a reservoir to Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council.

Portsmouth Water, in collaboration with Southern Water, wants to build Havant Thicket Reservoir to safeguard water resources in the South East.

According to Portsmouth Water, the reservoir would protect local chalk streams by reducing abstraction and create a green leisure hub to benefit both people and wildlife.

A detailed application has been submitted for the reservoir and a separate one for the pipeline that is needed to fill it from Bedhampton Springs and take water to customers. These will be considered together.

A consultation was held on the proposals in May and June, after which Portsmouth Water made changes to its plans, including developing two access roads to the site – one from the north and one from the south – in an effort to minimise the impact of traffic and reduce the loss of ancient woodland.

Bob Taylor, chief executive officer at Portsmouth Water, said: “We’re determined [the reservoir] will provide many benefits for our communities, the environment and wildlife. Crucially, it will mean there’s enough water to go round in our water-stressed region in the decades ahead, at the same time as safeguarding world-famous chalk streams in our area – the River Test and the River Itchen.

“Havant Thicket Reservoir will also be hugely positive for wildlife, with a new, large wetland created on the reservoir’s northern edge, providing a haven for endangered birds and other protected species. Plus, through this scheme, we’re committed to replanting and improving at least 110 hectares of native woodland and grassland, next to the reservoir and farther afield.”

Taylor explained that the reservoir will provide a network of paths for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders, as well as a visitor centre.

He added that, subject to planning permission being granted, there would be further opportunities for the community to get involved with the development, such as the design work.

The plans would play a key role in freeing up supplies to share with Southern Water’s customers in west Hampshire. Ian McAulay, Southern Water CEO, added: “The reservoir will play a key role in our long-term water resources plans – securing reliable water supplies for customers while helping protect the sensitive chalk stream habitats of the Test and Itchen rivers.”

Engineering and design company Atkins was commissioned to design and secure planning consent for the reservoir and pipeline. The firm said the design is environmentally led and seeks to “integrate operational and visitor facilities within the landscape to provide an attractive setting for the scheme, minimise its visual and environmental impact and maintain the rural character of the site”.

If approved, further work will be undertaken to support wildlife migration and completion of the new access roads by 2022.

Between 2023 and 2026, work would take place to dig out the clay on site and move it to shape the reservoir bowl, build the reservoir embankment and lay the pipeline. From 2027, the paths would be put in, as well as the visitor centre. It is hoped that Havant Thicket Reservoir would open fully to the public in 2029.

The planning applications can be found here:

Havant Borough Council - reservoir - APP/20/00990

Havant Borough Council - pipeline - APP/20/00991

East Hampshire District Council - reservoir - 51680/001

Image credit | Atkins