This section of PIP concerns the specific issues of relevance to a community living in an urban area located on an island. This natural circumstance brings with it specific needs and therefore a requirement for careful analysis with a view to coming up with appropriate solutions. This is particularly the case in terms of planning and the degree to which the local community actually has an influence over planning decisions.
For many years planning decisions affecting the community have been given only slight access to the community to influence decisions. In the distant past councillors tended to be people with a direct interest in decisions such as the post-war era leading up to the 1960s where many councillors were builders or estate agents. However, the issue of "independence" of councillor decisions is ever-present in any system of local governance.
Corruption or incompetence?
However, the nature of the problems on Porsea Island are now less about post-war recovery and the phase when the local authority brought national HQs to the city (Zurich & IBM) or set up the Ferry Port. People, in general appear to feel dispossessed of any influence, even as a community, on the issue of planning decisions. This is particularly true on the question of the quest by the local council to satisfy central government housing provision targets. The city has failed to argue that Portsmouth, as an Island City with a fixed area of land, is a special case. In particular the traffic chaos in Portsmouth can be related to planning approvals being given to housing projects that lack off-road parking provisions. With rising relative affluence people living in small and lower-priced housing units tend to have one or two cars. The Planning Committtees over the last decade or more have continued to authorise the construction of high density housing associated with inadequate or no provision for parking.
A need to improve Portsmouth's planning system
As a community largely living in an island city, Portsmouth has a unique marine-urban environment when compared with other cities in the United Kingdom. The over-riding aspects of this uniqueness are that Portsea Island has a finite area of land, fairly well-defined residential areas (in terms of land use) and a given road infrastructure.
Portsea Island resident parking & traffic movement enters state of crisis
Planning in Portsmouth does not seem to recognise the significance of Portsmouth's unique circumstances and so we find inappropriate standards for new dwelling densities being applied to Portsmouth combined with unrealistic provisions, or no provisions, for the growing requirement for residential parking created by higher dwelling densities. This trend has been accompanied by a cavalier disregard of the views of residents.
There is a massive flow of public funds into a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative on roads. This does not address the most significant damage arising from inappropriate planning decisions that continue to exacerbate declining amenity and worsening state of residential parking. This has knock on effects contributing to increasingly congested roads, longer delays and a general decline in quality of life. This is simply causing more and more upset amongst those who counselled against such decisions, seeing their local environmental amenity decline. In some areas of Portsmouth local residents can take up to half an hour looking for somewhere to park their cars.
The issue that needs to be raised here is whether this is the result of corruption or incompetence? In terms of decisions there would appear to be a corruption in the process of communications of the council taking on board what people want and the intellectually-shackled character of all local politicians to an intertia created by political parties to "get things done" and "show how they are helping" and the hardwired interpretation of civil servants, This is also having negative impacts on the local economy and business.
planning officers, who also continue to have a desire to "come to closure" on any planning matter. This process which is tilted in favour of the decision-makers (Planning Committee) and corrupts the moderating influence of community conscience and preferences by simply delivering a lecture about regulations and the inevitability of decisions "going through".
This is an unacceptable state of affairs.
spite of its prejudicial nature, people feel helpless; local government is not there there to engender this type of feeling. Therefore, in order to provide an example to show how such bad decisions are taken in the face of constituency opposition we are providing details on a planning decision as a Case Study of one of the worst recent decisions taken by the Planning Committee. This case study serves to illustrate all that is wrong with our local government.
Southsea Castle Lighthouse at dusk...
Read more about this here.... The Coniston Avenue Petition...
We have received a range of contacts from local people concerning things that they wish to call to the attention of the general public related to the behaviour of retail establishments including restaurants. We will be organizing a section under Island City to publicize these complaints.
Music, that is, of the jazz variety
We are organizing the PIP Jazz Club and further information of this will be posted soon....