A new M27 authority made up of coastal-facing councils would be the most efficient ‘devolved’ body to oversee infrastructure and development across the region.
That’s according to Bruton Knowles’ development viability specialist Steve Pozerskis, who believes a ‘one size fits all’ Hampshire Unitary authority would be unwieldy when trying to balance the varying needs across the county.
Steve said: “We believe joined up thinking is essential when considering housing development patterns and associated infrastructure requirements in Hampshire.”
One of the potential options being considered is a Hampshire Unitary authority.
“But given the vast array of economic/social profiles across the county I cannot see that this is really any different to central government control.
“Trying to coordinate a combined approach on transport, infrastructure and housing across a diverse demographic such as Hampshire might not work out as successfully as it might in other devolved areas.
“The coast provides a very varied set of social, economic and physical profiles which a Hampshire-wide authority would not necessarily understand.”
Steve, who is based at the firm’s Guildford office, said Southampton, Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport all had areas of deprivation along with thriving ports, areas of wetland, high-end sea view flats and central business districts – while towns like Basingstoke and Winchester were completely different kettle of fish.
Another option would be for a “combined authority” – this would be for Southampton/Portsmouth councils plus Isle of Wight council and the Local enterprise partnership.
“Although this is probably a more palatable idea, it still leaves the likes of Gosport and Fareham without much say.
“In our view – and many of the local authorities we have worked for in that region – a unitary authority is an option, but it should be a smaller unitary authority made up of the LA’s across the south coast.”
A South Coast/M27 corridor authority would be flexible enough to balance the contrasting fortunes of its constituent areas, for instance Southsea and Gun Wharf Quays are highly desirable and expensive places whereas other parts of the M27 corridor are not in that league.
Steve said a smaller combined authority would be more in tune with its own neighbourhoods
“Hampshire-wide issues are not necessarily issues for M27 corridor authorities. And we could end up with the less affluent parts of Hampshire having to assume the burden for affordable housing as house and land prices rise in the more affluent areas.
“A smaller authority would be expected to recognise the need for Affordable housing in their areas and where it should be located.
“The number of councillors per capita would clearly be much smaller ensuring better representation.”
“We believe the M27 authorities of East Hampshire District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council and Havant Borough Council have a better local awareness of their residents’ needs and therefore deserve our support.”