County Council sets out next steps for Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve investment plans

Investment plans for Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve will progress this week as Hampshire County Council places Haven House for sale on the open market. The sale of the building is essential to raise vital funds for the National Nature reserve, a site of international importance for wildlife

Oct 4 2023

This comes after representatives from the Authority met with Titchfield Haven Community Hub on Tuesday 3 October to discuss their ongoing interest in running Haven House, and the further bid that the group submitted in September. 
Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Countryside and Regulatory Services said: “Last year we identified a funding gap in the projected running costs of Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve totalling £1.8million over three years. This included the Haven House visitor centre requiring significant investment to bring the building up to modern standards.  
“This comes at a time when the County Council faces one of the biggest budget shortfalls in its history, with the challenge to close a £132 million funding gap by April 2025. The situation is the result of years of underfunding of local government services by central Government, rising costs from inflation and growing demand for core services like social care for vulnerable children and adults. The sale of Haven House is a necessary next step to ensure the County Council has sufficient funds for the upkeep of the National Nature Reserve.  
“I appreciate the extremely strong local interest in the future of Haven House, and whilst the County Council is not in a position to give away an asset of this value for free, we will take community interests into account when we evaluate offers in due course. We have met with Titchfield Haven Community Hub this week to discuss their bid and hear more about their continued interest in the building. During the marketing of Haven House, we remain open to further dialogue with representatives from the group.”  
Haven House will be marketed by Savills UK Estate Agents from Wednesday 4 October. Bids received for Haven House, alongside an officer recommendation, will be considered in line with the County Council’s standard asset disposal process, which will include consideration of both the financial and social value of any submission.  

•       In December 2022, the County Council paused the sale of Haven House for six months after it was designated an Asset of Community Value. This also meant that much needed investment for the National Nature Reserve was put on hold.  
•       In June 2023, the County Council received separate submissions from Titchfield Haven Community Hub and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust setting out alternative proposals to the County Council’s own costed investment plans. The County Council’s understanding had been that the two organisations were working together on a joint bid, however two separate and unrelated proposals came forward. After careful consideration and detailed assessment, it was established that neither bid submitted was able to meet the criteria that was set out from the outset. Nor did the proposals provide a costed plan for how each organisation could deliver investment in the National Nature Reserve. The Titchfield Haven Community Hub Limited bid assumed a transfer of Haven House at no cost to provide community facilities alongside holiday accommodation. The business plan relied on ambitious income targets to meet revenue costs with no commitment or guarantee of a contribution to the running of the National Nature Reserve.   
•       The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust proposal outlined a high-level vision, rather than a fully costed business proposal, that sets out a wider plan for the management of the National Nature Reserve, and the wider Meon Valley area.