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heritage lottery fund
Leigh Park Estate

The wartime bombing of Portsmouth caused a serious housing shortage across the area. It became necessary to re-house families very quickly, as approximately 7,000 houses were destroyed in the City of Portsmouth during the Blitz. As a result the Council decided to purchase some land just outside Havant to develop a new ‘satellite’ town in Leigh Park, modelled on the lines of a ‘Garden City’.

Gradually, after 1949, families were moved out of the City of Portsmouth into the new estate, surrounded by the countryside. There were few roads, no shops and no other facilities. The first houses were built around Bramdean Drive. Shopping for food and other essentials was very difficult and often involved a long walk across muddy fields and a bus journey into Portsmouth. Mobile shops helped the residents in the early days, until gradually an assortment of shops began to spread across the estate. Work on the Park Parade shopping centre began in 1955, and by 1958 over 48 different shops were open for business.

The early building programme for the Leigh Park Estate did not alter the course of the stream; in fact, the stream flowed freely through the estate often flooding across the few roads that existed in the development. Many of the residents recalled enjoying the stream as children, saying that it had been a source of both entertainment and pleasure!

In the 1970s there was a scheme to control the stream through the residential area by channelling it along a concrete channel. This helped direct the flow of water through the estate and into the sea at Langstone and reduced the chance of flooding. The engineering of the water course associated with the urbanisation along the river however had some negative consequences on the physical habitat, hydromorphology (e.g. depth, width, flow and structure) and the water quality. These pressures have combined impacts on the biodiversity of the river.

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