Sunday, 31 January 2016

Local Plan Consultation (2)

Option A showing areas targeted for declopment
It was an interesting day yesterday. In the morning, while knocking doors to support the Labour candidate in the Freegrounds by election, I met somebody who is so fed up with the Lib Dem overdevelopment they have decided to move away from Hedge End altogether. They didn't think much of the Lib Dem "Vision" of "improved standards of living for residents; promoting thriving and healthy communities; and maintaining an attractive and sustainable environment that residents value" ("Issues and Options" page 16). For that resident of Freegrounds ward, it was "too late". They were fed up sitting in gridlocked traffic every day.

Then in the afternoon I popped in to the Council exhibition on the Local Plan in the 2000 Centre. Following Labour's campaigning last weekend to make people aware this was happening, one of the planning officers there told me there had been at least a hundred local residents turn up. There were certainly at least 20 there at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Two of the options on offer in "Issues and Options" would affect Hedge End directly. Option A would see more green fields across the Borough given over to up to 5000 houses and "employment floorspace".  The Lib Dems don't say how many of these would be in Hedge End, but the map shows three areas: around Woodhouse Lane, and two to the east of Kings Copse Avenue. It's not so long ago that the Lib Dems were trumpeting that they had saved the land at Kings Copse Avenue from the Tories who wanted to build there!

Option F would put all the additional housing in the fields at Woodhouse Lane, effectively merging Hedge End, Boorley Green and Botley into one huge built up area. So much for Lib Dem promises about maintaining the character of rural villages and protecting the green spaces between them.

An additional 1300 houses and new "employment floorspace" would generate an awful lot of traffic on Woodhouse Lane. Plans are included to upgrade this traditional country lane as part of the "Botley Bypass".  According to the "Strategic Transport Study" the bypass would carve through the green fields south of the railway and join Woodhouse Lane at a new roundabout roughly where the footpath / bridleway emerges.

Bottom Copse under threat
The plan is then to increase the width of Woodhouse Lane itself and add a further 3m wide footpath / cycleway on one side of the road. It is not made clear that the Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) at Bottom Copse by the side of Woodhouse Lane would be protected at all under this option.

It is also not clear what will happen when all this traffic arrives at the Maypole roundabout apart from wait in yet another Hedge End queue. The "Strategic Transport Study" admits:
"..there is forecast to be a degree of congestion and delay on some approaches to the new junctions at either end of the Bypass and also at the Maypole roundabout where Woodhouse Lane meets the A334."

It is also not clear in the plan what would be the impact of the extra traffic on Kings Copse Avenue, but it clearly won't make things easier for the people living in the roads that lead on to it, nor how it will be made safer for pedestrians crossing Woodhouse Lane to the convenience store on the Botley side of the roundabout, or how it will be made safer for cyclists.

It is not that long ago that the Lib Dems took credit for the new cycle route from Hedge End to (almost) Botley. Now they are planning a new road bypass to cut straight through it. Hardly joined up planning, is it?

The consultation runs until 17 February. Full details and the consultation documents are on the borough council web site here.



  1. 'Plan' is too grand a claim for it.

    I think there's a lot more to this massive over-development of Hedge End and the surrounding area than meets the eye. It just doesn't make sense, given the congestion and gridlock that we experience regularly...

  2. You are not alone in thinking that Ray.