Fawley Waterside: Main Site
THE FAWLEY WATERSIDE DILEMMA
I am not currently on the Planning Committees of the New Forest District Council or New Forest National Park Authority, so have some freedom to express my view on whether planning permission should be granted for a major residential and commercial development on and around the site of the former Fawley Power Station.
I have had a number of meetings briefings and calls with other Councillors, Officers and the people behind the project.
In simple terms, I think it is a great project, superbly designed with many attractive design features. I fully expect that the housing, the commercial benefits and even some of the habitat mitigation measures will prove very persuasive when it comes to planning members making up their minds.
However, as I see it, there two big obstacles which make it difficult for locally elected members to support.
Firstly, from the perspective of members of the National Park, the main purposes of the authority don't include promoting large scale residential and commercial developments. On the contrary, members are expected to conserve and enhance National Park land for future generations to enjoy. There is a lesser duty, which involves supporting the local economy, but it isn't anything like as important as the two main purposes of the National Park which is all about protecting it and managing recreation.
It may be that members will consider that the habitat mitigation schemes are so good that they override the normal considerations, but it is a very high bar to get over.
Secondly, I think the District Councillors on the planning committee will have a tough time voting in favour when they know that the necessary infrastructure isn't in place to support the development. Specifically, the A326 is a long (almost) cul-de-sac and is single carriageway in places.
Although the developers have agreed contributions that will improve matters in terms of traffic congestion and cycling south of the Dibden roundabout, there is really nothing proposed to deal with inevitable problems further north along the A326.
This is the reason why Hythe & Dibden Parish Council, Marchwood Parish Council and Totton and Eling Town Council have all registered similar objections to the scheme.
We know, from experience, that if there is an incident on the A326, traffic re-routes through Marchwood village centre, causing absolute chaos. I just think that this alone is a completely unacceptable scenario, as it is, without increasing the amount of traffic that will divert as a result of this development.
There are also very significant traffic congestion issues and air quality issues that will be worsened in the area of the A35, Rushington roundabout and across to Redbridge.
I think, for the above reasons, it is far from certain that planning permission will be granted by local politicians. However, the applicants will make an Appeal to the Secretary of State who will then, most likely, grant permission because Government are much more influenced by big business and the economy rather than local environment and quality of life issues for existing residents.
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