Councillors back power station redevelopment despite transport fears

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Power station plans
Planned houses at Fawley power station

MORE than 100 residents tried to cram into a meeting about the redevelopment of Fawley power station which heard fresh warnings about the impact of 1,500 new homes on the local roads.

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Parish councillors voted 6-3 in favour of supporting the near-£1bn project on condition major highways improvements were made to prevent the A326 and B3053 becoming jammed with extra traffic.

People spilled out into the corridor at the Jubilee Hall venue on Monday night where objectors spoke against the plan being promoted in person by Aldred Drummond, who leads the development consortium Fawley Waterside Ltd.

There were also representatives of New Forest District Council and the national park authority.

A decision on the outline plans is to be made by the end of August by both the NFDC and the NPA because the huge site straddles both jurisdictions.

The authorities have received a combined 16 objections lodged against five in support, along with the parish council.

Parish council chair Cllr Alan Alvey told the A&T after the meeting: “There was quite a lot of opposition at the meeting. But I think it was a fairly open discussion.

“There has been a number of public consultations about this and, from talking to people, I think they are supportive of it but they are very worried about the traffic.

“We would want [highways authority] Hampshire County Council support for this because what’s required is a significant improvement to the roads.

“Over the years and into the future there’s a number of developments that have added to the traffic and we can’t reasonably expect the developer to fund it all.”

Fawley Waterside is proposing to upgrade junctions along the A326 to increase the route’s capacity.

Although not part of its submitted plans, the company has also suggested reopening the Waterside railway line to passengers, as well as a ferry service along Southampton Water.

However, Cllr Alvey was among those casting doubt on the feasibility of the train scheme which he pointed out did not reach south of the oil refinery, so might prove unpopular with future residents having to drive to get to the station.

Cllr Alvey said: “My view, personally, is that if you get into a car you’re not going to get to the station and wait 30 minutes for a train. You will stay in your car and drive the rest of the way to Southampton.”

But he added: “The majority view of the parish council is that it should go ahead. It will help Calshot, which is at the back of beyond. At the moment there’s no shop and not a very good bus service.

“It’s difficult there and I am sure that if the development is done properly it has to have an advantage.”

As well as the homes, the overall power station scheme includes demolishing the existing structures to make way for a dockside area, plus a 2,100-space underground car park, employment facilities, public open space and a primary school.

A Fawley Waterside spokesperson said it was analysing data and working with HCC to create an “effective and efficient public and private transport system”.

That includes putting the case for dualling the A326 north of Dibden roundabout, and drawing up a feasibility case for opening the Waterside branchline, which she said the Department for Transport accepted had “considerable potential”.

She said: “What lies ahead is the opportunity to reimagine the site for future generations by focusing on the creation of much-needed homes and jobs while respecting and enhancing the ecological value of the surrounding area.

“In order to build a community on the site Fawley Waterside realises that it must create a variety of jobs and homes for all.”

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