Are you suggesting a regional plan? That would be an innovative concept!

Director at a National Planning Practice


South Hampshire

Who is going to design New South Hampshire?

What is it going to look and feel like?

How much better could it be if it were tackled as one strategic project?

The area between the New Forest and Chichester, and Winchester and the Isle of Wight, is going to grow. Not in area, but in population, intensity and significance. Like most places, it needs to accommodate its proportion of the homes we should have built in the last 25 years in double-quick time. It will need the schools, hospitals, parks, shops and transportation that support those homes. It will also need to evolve its current industries, and incubate new ones, and build new settlements as well as update existing ones.

If you work as a planner, urban designer, architect, infrastructure engineer, council officer or property professional (etc etc) in or around South Hampshire, or just have an eye or ear for such things, you will be aware that various public figures and/or authorities have begun considering how to do this. There have been lots of descriptions of NSH (or at least parts of it), reports are beginning to emerge, and committees are being formed to decide what to do, and how to do it. But looking from the outside, the current score seems to be: Vision 0 Politics 2

What is not prominent, as yet, is a design for NSH. Whether it’s a vision, a master plan, or a spatial framework, a clear picture of the future area is a vital part of the overall plan. Not only must this explain what is needed and where it should be located but it should also layout the strategic connections between the most significant civic/cultural/business centres. As important, in my view, are the urban design and sustainability principles used to guide development and decisions in this period. These should be established and clearly communicated at the outset – eg. now. Deciding on these should be open to everyone within the area – having first debated what sort of place we want to create and live in.

There’s lots that could and should be done, but the basic essential is a simple concept plan of the whole area showing new and existing settlements and connections, and the strategic landscape network. Those in power might say it’s too complex or too urgent to take a masterplanning approach. They may even think they are already doing this, although the evidence, such as the PUSH Spatial Position Statement 2016, suggests otherwise.

You may not like aspects of its design but, on its 50th anniversary, Milton Keynes demonstrates the value of a singular vision and long-term commitment.

So come on PUSH, the Solent LEP, the Southampton/Portsmouth/Isle of Wight joint authority, Fareham/Winchester/Havant – get together and get some designers. We would be happy to help.

The Team