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Your views needed on Haslar Barracks conservation

Local people are being asked to help Gosport Borough Council protect a unique set of military buildings which played a crucial part in British history.

The council is taking steps to make the 19th century Haslar Barracks, near the former Haslar Hospital, into a conservation area.

By doing this, it can tighten up planning rules and help ensure that any future development preserves the site's special character.

But to make the protection even stronger, it needs to gather views and information from Gosport residents.

It has launched a consultation to gather people's feedback on the conservation area. This will help it draw up a detailed document setting out the case for protecting the site. The document, the Haslar Barracks Conservation Area Appraisal, would be used by planners to defend the barracks against any inappropriate development.

Built in 1802, Haslar Barracks is an extremely rare example of a Napoleonic-era infantry barracks. It played a strategic role in the defence of local military establishments at a time when a French invasion was feared to be imminent.

After time as a hospital, it was used by the Royal Engineers and then, during the Second World War, an anti-aircraft brigade. It was then occupied by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. After the 1950s it became a youth offenders' centre, before its final use as an immigration holding centre. This closed earlier this year, and the complex is now empty. The owner, the Ministry of Justice, has put it up for sale.

Rob Harper, the council's head of conservation and design, said: "The council has moved to designate Haslar Barracks as a conservation area, as it's important to get protection in place as soon as possible. The Regulatory Board will be asked to formally approve the designation on 5 December.

"To back up the conservation area and to make sure we have a strong, detailed case for protecting the site, we're drawing up this planning document. It will really help if local people help us to do this, and have their say on the future of this unique part of local and national history."

For the consultation, residents are being asked if they support the designation of the barracks as a conservation area, and if they agree with the area's boundaries. They can also contribute historical or architectural information, and make any other comments. The consultation runs until Friday 5 January.

To take part, residents can see an exhibition in the reception area at Gosport Town Hall or at the Discovery Centre, and fill in a short comments form. Or they can go to www.gosport.gov.uk/haslarbarracks and fill in a short online survey. Comments can also be emailed to conservation@gosport.gov.uk or posted to: Head of Conservation & Design, Town Hall, High Street, Gosport PO12 1EB.

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