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Hampshire County Council A326 widening scheme will hit taxpayers in the pocket, Cllr David Harrison warns

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WIDENING the A326 will cause environmental damage and hit taxpayers in the pocket, a Waterside councillor has warned.

Cllr David Harrison, who represents Totton and Marchwood, is opposing plans by Hampshire County Council to pursue £15m of government funding towards a host of changes, such as a two-lane dual carriageway between the Michigan Way and Cocklydown junctions.

HCC wants to increase traffic capacity on the A326, ahead of the planned 1,500-home Fawley Waterside development at the former power station and the Solent Freeport.

Funding worth £115m-£140m is being sought from the government to expand the A326 west of Totton into a dual carriageway.

The A326 is set to get a host of improvements
The A326 is set to get a host of improvements

Cllr Harrison has written to Cllr Rob Humby, HCC cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, asking for costs amid concerns that its final price could spiral.

Homeowners who live close to the road will be eligible to claim compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973, Cllr Harrison said, while HCC would also have to abide by new laws and pay for projects that will offset potential environmental effects caused by the widening.

Cllr Harrison said: "Once you factor in the construction costs, as well as the compensation costs, in addition to the habitat mitigation costs, you begin to understand the size of the bill that local taxpayers will be picking up."

Cllr Harrison previously warned the scheme could prove "costly", do "very little" to prevent congestion, and suggested it was primarily an "enabling scheme" for development of the Waterside for port use.

Cllr David Harrison has backed reopening the Waterside railway to passengers
Cllr David Harrison has backed reopening the Waterside railway to passengers

But Cllr Humby has stressed "no final decision" has been made yet over the widening proposals as the plans were "preliminary designs and a business case for road improvements".

He added: "Should our bid be successful, proposals for the A326 that will aim to achieve a net gain in biodiversity, make walking and cycling easier and reduce congestion, will be developed and tested.

"It is true that the Waterside has enormous potential for economic growth of national significance and future decisions will be made, to that end, at a national level.

"Therefore, the scheme development and planning work that we are doing now will put us in the best possible position to be able to fully understand the impacts of growth and how this might be best mitigated."

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