Ann Griffiths, a Langstone resident for 50 years, addressed this question in a letter recently published by the Hayling Herald (shown above). Read the full text below.
We are currently faced with the possibility of damaging the character and appearance of parts of Langstone’s historic waterfront, in order to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion. So why does that matter?
The local community, together with various public bodies, are merely temporary custodians of a village that contains fourteen vulnerable listed buildings and it is the opinion of many residents that the most important thing is to stabilize the existing coastal footpaths and walls or to rebuild them in such a way that they can accommodate further flood protection measures in the future, if and when that becomes necessary. An alternative, long-term solution would be to build a breakwater to protect Langstone from serious flooding and this deserves further exploration.
Conservation areas have to adapt to change but that change has to be managed, so that the appearance of the Langstone waterfront is not radically altered all in one fell swoop. Adding the proposed glass screening and timber board walk and hiding the historic wall west of the High Street with another lower wall, would introduce alien materials and boundaries and the residents would lose that sense of place which is so important to their well-being. Added to that, a wall in front of the Royal Oak quay would alter the proportions of the listed buildings when viewed from near or far and the scheme as a whole would restrict the open access to the shore.
Never again would we see the tide spilling over the footpaths and up the High Street, which it has done for a couple of hours every now and then, for hundreds of years. (Householders are responsible for protecting their properties from flooding and know how to do this by using flood boards and sandbags). Should the situation change in future then we would need to think again. The current £376,000 feasibility study has been valuable in looking at some of the options and has got people thinking about what they do and don’t want in the way of flood defences and there may have to be some compromising on both sides..
In the meantime defending the eroding railway spit, perhaps with rocks, would not seem to be too controversial, the residents of Mill Lane can probably agree to a scheme that would give better protection with minimal harm to the environment and the character of the conservation area and it may be possible to protect the quay car park and the Ship Inn without harming the view of what was originally a large malt house and is now a listed pub. The area between the Ship and the Old Mill is a different matter because of its unique historic setting and its tourism value to the Borough. Walkers, bird watchers, rowers, diners and drinkers all flock here to enjoy all that Langstone has to offer.
Langstone Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan.
“Once designated the local planning authority has a duty to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a conservation area, in the exercise of its planning functions. The nature of the harbour views fluctuates with the state of the tide, with large tracts of inter-tidal land being exposed at low water, but whatever the state of the tide, the sense of space is the overriding impression.”
Langstone Conservation Area is also favoured with an Article 4 direction, which restricts permitted development unless planning permission is first obtained. This helps to protect the character of the buildings and their settings and enabled us to save things like the Royal Oak privy,which had been destined for demolition.
Langstone invites people to settle in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, because of its unique charm. Property values, which are not relevant in planning matters, take into account all the pros and cons of living by the sea and two pubs. We are lucky to live here and we have to ensure that we make the right flood defence decisions, not necessarily the cheapest ones, so that we can maintain and enjoy our special relationship with Chichester Harbour.
See the East Solent Coastal Partnership website for information on the Langstone Coastal Defence Study. https://www.escp.org.uk/langstone
Tower Gardens, Langstone