Plans for 800 new homes would worsen town’s traffic problem, warn councillors

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Fordingbridge housing
The River Avon in Fordingbridge where the town council fears housing expansion could harm the community

PLANS for more than 800 new homes on the edge of Fordingbridge have been attacked by local councillors as likely to intensify congestion on the roads.

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Three sites around the town have been proposed for housing in New Forest District Council’s Local Plan, a keystone set of policies for development outside the national park until 2036 to deliver about 10,500 new dwellings overall.

The trio of plots near Fordingbridge are to the north of Station Road in Ashford for 140 homes, dubbed SS16; west of Whitsbury Road for 330 (SS17); and west of the A338 Salisbury Road at Burgate for 350 (SS18).

They are among nearly 20 major sites scattered around NFDC’s planning jurisdiction, some of which are controversially in what is now protected green belt.

In its response, the town council raised fears that hundreds of new homes would cause congestion in the “already overburdened” centre of Fordingbridge, with drivers cutting through to reach the A338 Salisbury Road.

Councillors predicted the fabric of historic buildings would be at risk of damage, and the neighbourhood would become “less safe to use and visit”.

Members pointed out that 1,000 homes are also proposed at nearby Alderholt in the draft Local Plan by East Dorset District Council – which has since merged into the new unitary Dorset Council.

They said about site SS16: “Access to the main transport network on the A338 needs to be achieved without routing increased traffic through the town centre.

“It is difficult to see how this can be done and as this site for development appears to have an unsurmountable flaw, its development should not be progressed.”

NFDC Local Plan
The Fordingbridge Local Plan site north of Station Road in Ashford for 140 homes, dubbed SS16

The SS17 site would fail to “conserve and enhance the countryside and natural environment”, warned councillors – who wanted answers about what would happen to the bordering narrow country roads of Marl Lane and Puddleslosh Lane, currently used for walking, cycling and riding.

NFDC Local Plan
The Fordinbridge site west of Whitsbury Road for 330 homes

The draft Local Plan also contains policies marking Fordingbridge, Hythe, Lymington, Marchwood, New Milton, Ringwood and Totton as the most suitable for “large-scale residential, retail, leisure, cultural and business development”.

But Fordingbridge councillors described that approach as “unsound” for their community because of the lack of space in and around the town for such additions.

The likely growth of children and older people from new residents meant a review of education, health and community services was “absolutely necessary and urgent”.

NFDC Local Plan
The NFDC Local Plan site west of the A338 Salisbury Road at Burgate for 350 homes

The lack of public transport in the area would also mean increased demand for town centre parking, councillors warned.

However, the draft Local Plan stated that traffic assessments showed the cumulative impact of developments on traffic would be “not severe”.

It added: “Planned growth will place increased pressure on the road network at certain locations, but these impacts can be adequately addressed by specific local measures that are capable of being funded by development contributions or provided as part of site developments.”

The draft Local Plan will undergo a public examination by a pair of government-appointed planning inspectors over several weeks this summer between 3rd June and 18th July at NFDC’s Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst.

They will report back with recommended changes to policy before the document can be formally adopted by the council later in the year.

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