Landmark as reservoir planning application goes in

A planning application for a long-awaited new reservoir in Hampshire to secure reliable water supplies for the future has been submitted by Portsmouth Water.

The company wants to build Havant Thicket Reservoir in Havant, in collaboration with Southern Water, to safeguard water resources for the South East.

The new resource would protect precious local chalk streams by reducing abstraction and create a new green leisure hub to benefit both people and wildlife.

The detailed planning application for the reservoir, along with a separate one for the pipeline which is needed to fill it and take water out to supply customers, has now gone in to Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council. The applications will be considered together.

Bob Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at Portsmouth Water, said: “We’re delighted and extremely proud to have submitted applications for this major project, which has been talked about since the 1960s. We’re determined it will provide many benefits for our communities, the environment and wildlife. Crucially, it will mean there’s enough water to go round in our water-stressed region in the decades ahead, at the same time as safeguarding world-famous chalk streams in our area – the River Test and the River Itchen.

“Havant Thicket Reservoir will also be hugely positive for wildlife, with a new, large wetland created on the reservoir’s northern edge, providing a haven for endangered birds and other protected species. Plus, through this scheme, we’re committed to replanting and improving at least 110 hectares of native woodland and grassland, next to the reservoir and further afield.

“In addition, the reservoir will give people a fantastic new leisure facility, with a network of paths for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse-riders, as well as a visitor centre – something to look forward to in the years ahead.”

Following a successful consultation on its reservoir proposals in May and June, Portsmouth Water has updated its final plans, based on the feedback it received.

For example, it now wants to develop two access roads to the reservoir site, one from the north and one from the south, to minimise the overall impact of traffic and reduce the loss of ancient woodland.

Mr Taylor continued: “I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped develop our proposals for Havant Thicket Reservoir over many years, including local residents, community representatives and environmental and wildlife groups. People’s feedback has really helped us shape our proposals, with our recent consultation showing strong support for what we hope to deliver.

“Subject to planning permission being granted, as the project progresses, there’ll be lots of opportunities for people in the community to get involved and contribute further – for example, in our design work and helping deliver environmental improvements on the site.”

The new reservoir will play a key role in freeing up supplies to share with Southern Water’s customers in west Hampshire. Ian McAulay, Southern Water CEO, added: “Working together on this new strategic water resource for the South East epitomises our continued partnership with Portsmouth Water and our shared focus on delivering the best value for customers and the environment.

“The reservoir will play a key role in our long-term water resources plans – securing reliable water supplies for customers while helping protect the sensitive chalk stream habitats of the Test and Itchen rivers.”

If the reservoir is given the go-ahead, the next steps would be further environmental work to support wildlife migration and completion of the new access roads by 2022.

Between 2023 and 2026, work would take place to dig out the clay on site and move it to shape the reservoir bowl, as well as build the reservoir embankment and lay the pipeline which will transfer water from Bedhampton Springs to the reservoir.

Finally, from 2027, the 5km-long network of paths around the site would be put in, the visitor centre and other facilities built and the reservoir filled with water. Havant Thicket Reservoir would open fully to the public in 2029.

Details of the planning applications for Havant Thicket Reservoir will be shared on the councils’ websites at or after the applications have been validated by planning officers. This should be in a couple of weeks’ time and all comments should be shared directly with the councils.

You can also get the latest updates at or via @HavantReservoir on Facebook, and you can view a personal message from Portsmouth Water’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Taylor on Portsmouth Water’s YouTube channel.