Gosport has a rich military heritage, with a significant number of challenges. In addition, as a densely populated urban developed peninsula, there are limited options to expand and meet the local housing and employment land use needs of the Borough.
Key regeneration sites across Gosport are characterised by having significant heritage features, historic buildings and scheduled ancient monuments. These are now coming forward for redevelopment via public sector land releases and this puts pressure on Gosport's historic environment.
The Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) was needed to help address the challenge of a number of regeneration sites coming forward for redevelopment across the Borough. To enable successful delivery of these sites, creative solutions and best practice examples will be used to help ensure that historic buildings have the appropriate modern day and commercial uses. We will be endeavouring to ensure that their historic environment is respected, whilst generating much needed local economic growth and improvements in job opportunities, educational standards and health.
The HAZ provides direct Gosport Borough Council and Historic England staff expertise and funding support for specific projects that will make significant contributions to the overall successful delivery of the key regeneration sites. Just as importantly, the HAZ will also help unlock much needed external financial assistance.
HAZ has a thread of community engagement running through it where communities will be consulted and be able to take part in directly preserving their heritage.
HAZ will be delivered through a range of partners including Historic England, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, One Public Estate, Hampshire County Council, East Solent Coastal Partnership and the Gosport Society.
All of this quarter's HAZ progress has been during lockdown and Gosport Borough Council's COVID-19 rules, so there have been no site visits and no in-person meetings but some aspects have been progressing quietly from a distance.
As mentioned in the last update, Historic England had 90% completed a survey or Browndown 1WW practice trenches. The surveyors published a magazine article about their finds which also includes part of their research on Stokes Bay. They have also produced a more in-depth research report exclusively about Stokes Bay. These studies and surveys will help the HAZ identify a new Conservation Area for Stokes Bay and review two Conservation Areas that surround Stokes Bay.
Work has begun on setting up the project to designate a new Conservation Area. This is largely a process required by government and led by Historic England. There are plans for the community to help research and survey the area in order to capture the unique character of the area which will be presented as evidence for why the area should be protected by a Conservation Area designation. This work will begin later in the year and will need to comply by COVID-19 rules at the time of activity.
Bastion 1 work continues quietly. The team have arranged a small archaeological dig to establish what the original surface of the ramps and terre plein (platform beside the gun emplacements) was made of. This work should be carried out in July 2020. More about this in the next update.
The early part of the year saw the HAZ team begin work on Bastion 1 surveying the extent of repairs that might need to be made to the Scheduled Monument. Historic England granted funds to aid the development of the project and repairs will be undertaken later in 2020.
Historic England completed a survey of the assets at Fort Blockhouse. This will result in aspects being listed and protected for future generations. The HAZ team made further visits to Fort Rowner and Haslar Barracks (the old Immigration Removal Centre) gathering views as to their possible futures.
Historic England made a topographical survey across Browndown First World War practice trenches. It's best done in the winter when the bracken has died back. There will be more about this in the next update
In September, the Programme Manager began work at Gosport Borough Council, when one of the first projects was about to begin. With a Coastal Revival Fund grant the Council were able to begin the vegetation clearance on Bastion 1 near Trinity Church. Clearance was essential because the Bastion is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the self-seeded sycamore trees were beginning to damage it. The area was cleared in 6 weeks and tons of rubbish and vegetation were removed off site. New turf and grass seed were laid and the grass has taken quite well due to a mild winter. Further repair work is planned later in 2020. A new Friends of the Bastion group is emerging. Please contact Cllr June Cully if you'd like to know more.
Our Heritage Action Zone partner, Historic England, has begun scanning the First World War practice trenches at Browndown North. After a drone survey, it was clear that an on-ground-survey was necessary to understand depth and routes of all the features. Bay House School students have been inspired by the survey and are working on an App about the area.
Three new walking routes are being outlined. The HAZ is working with Gosport Voluntary Action's Walking Past project to make them a reality. One will be in the Alver Valley Country Park, and the other two will be Gosport Lines from Bastion 1 to Forton Lake, and a Creekside walk around the Workhouse Lake and Stoke Lake area.