A BUS firm has attacked “nonsensical” transport plans for the 1,500-home redevelopment of Fawley power station and called for more than £1m to upgrade services amid residents’ fears of gridlock on the roads.
The huge proposals worth up to £1bn have sparked predictions of worsening congestion on the A326, the main road link for Waterside communities which is already packed with vehicles at rush hour.
Outline plans submitted to New Forest District Council and the national park authority prompted concern from Paul Walker, head of strategic development at Go South Coast which runs the Bluestar 8 and 9 buses linking the Waterside to Southampton.
In a letter to NFDC, he said existing services into the city were already at capacity during the busiest peak periods of the week, so a £160,000 new bus would need to be purchased for the Number 9.
And he warned there would have to be a planning condition for Fawley Waterside Ltd to provide extra funding of more than £1.1m over seven years to make viable extra operations catering for thousands of new residents and workers.
Negotiations with Hampshire County Council were ongoing to identify “interventions” by the developer on the A326 to help “lengthy” bus journeys catch up with faster trips by car, Mr Walker said.
And he stressed: “These would need to be deliverable transport options rather as so far presented in the nonsensical draft transport assessment.
“Therefore we would welcome a sensible, realistic discussion on the art of the possible with the developer, NFDC and HCC officers.”
The 1,500-home applications also include hi-tech business space, a canal and shops, bars and restaurants, with buildings up to 10 storeys high.
Fawley Waterside Ltd has suggested reopening the old passenger railway between Fawley and Totton, expanding ferry operations over Southampton Water, and upgrading road junctions to increase capacity. Walking and cycling will also be supported.
However, neither the train nor ferry proposal are formal parts of the current applications, which said they are being “pursued in tandem”.
Objectors are already raising concerns about the impact of traffic on the A326 – dubbed by some as the longest cul-de-sac in the south.
One wrote to NFDC criticising the plans as “out of character” and warned: “The increase in traffic is substantial and will cause significant disruption.”
Another said: “My overall feelings about Fawley Waterside are that this development would be great on the banks of the Thames perhaps but is totally out of place and inappropriate at the edge of the national park and especially as the infrastructure struggles to meet the current demands.”
A spokesperson for Fawley Waterside Ltd said there had been “useful discussions” with Bluestar and it was also liaising with HCC to provide a good local bus service to the new homes.
She added: “The comments by Paul Walker acknowledge this constructive dialogue and we have agreed with Bluestar that some funding will be needed to ensure a viable local bus service is provided in the early years of the development.
“The comments relating to ‘nonsensical’ proposals appear to relate to references made to other potential public transport options such as ferry, rail and express bus service, which do not form part of our outline planning application.
“We believe these additional transport options would complement existing local bus services and increase the overall public transport offering on the Waterside.”