Major Sites Sub-Committee Approves North East Hook Development
The 550 house development approved last year for North East Hook was considered by the Planning (Major Sites) Sub-Committee at a meeting on the morning of Thursday 5th March. This session was to finalise matters on the means of access (i.e. placement and layout of road junctions), surface water drainage and the full list of planning conditions to impose upon granting of planning approval. The drainage issues had been resolved to the satisfaction of the Environment Agency. The Sub-committee members spent some time questioning officers on pedestrian access arrangements. There were sensible proposals for controlled crossing points before any dwellings were occupied rather than much later as planned. Also a suggestion that if a controlled crossing point was not possible until new occupiers’ routes had been established, that a manned crossing point could be put in place temporarily. All were considered worthwhile ideas, but they do not appear to have made it into the final planning conditions so it is up to the relevant District Council and County Council departments to decide how to proceed.
At the original planning committee meeting last September which effectively approved the development, HAAO founder Dermot Smith spoke against the application but also stated that if they were to approve it then public input should be encouraged and welcomed at future stages of the application. This was very pertinent given that the next stage would be the Major Sites Sub-committee and that at a previous meeting of this committee public input was definitely not welcomed. We were assured by the committee Chair, Councillor Cockarill, that our involvement would be encouraged and welcomed this time. Since the September meeting we have been trying to find out what form this involvement might take and when the meeting would take place. We eventually found out the date of the meeting shortly beforehand but nothing else. We again contacted councillors and officers and were told that despite the previous warm words, all that was allowable was a 3 minute speaking slot “against” the application; so much for encouraging our input! Nonetheless, since this was all that was offered, Dermot registered to speak.
The main point to be made was on the access arrangements. In the period between the full planning committee meeting and this one, the applicant had submitted a number of new documents including a Transport Addendum that has far-reaching consequences for the North East Hook development. The addendum explored an alternative arrangement for the site to that presented in the original application. This divided the site into three separate parcels of land with no access between any of them. We later determined that the reason for this was that it may be impossible for the developer to get permission to cross Searles Lane with an internal access road as they had originally designed the development.
The effect of this change would be that only the very smallest of the three sections would have access to the A30 and this would be its only access point. The two remaining sections would have their own independent access points onto Griffin Way North. The result of this change would be that the number of dwellings served by each access point would be:
|Access point||Road||Original dwellings served||New proposal||Change|
|Northern section||Griffin Way North||82||92||+10|
|Central section||Griffin Way North||281||407||+126|
|Southern section||A30 London Road||187||51||-136|
So that’s an additional 136 properties now expected to be served by the exits onto Griffin Way North, which in terms of vehicle arrivals and departures is a predicted increase of 71% in the AM peak and 67% in the PM peak. That’s a huge effect on Griffin Way North where the southbound traffic situation is already very volatile. In addition, there would now be a large number of trips where the access point being used was not the most suitable for the journey, for example many cars heading for Hartley Wintney and Fleet unable to exit onto London Road and some other cars heading North unable to exit onto Griffin Way North. This would lead to an increase in the number of cars having to use the roundabout.
Dermot raised these concerns at the Major Sites Subcommittee but made the mistake of using the start of his 3 minutes to thank the committee for the concerns they had already raised about pedestrian safety and to stress that the linkage between this development and the village centre was of huge importance to the cohesion of the village. When the three minute time limit was up the committee chair, Councillor Gorys, refused to let Dermot finish his prepared words on the access issue. So much for welcoming our input!
Despite the vast difference in access between the new potential access arrangements and those presented to the full planning committee in September, the applicant’s Transport Addendum concluded that even with the increased junction and roundabout loading, both the junctions are the roundabout would still operate “within capacity”. Hampshire Highways department had responded to the Transport Addendum acknowledging the increased junction and roundabout loadings that would result from the modifications but agreeing that they would remain within capacity.
The Sub-committee approved the access and drainage arrangements and it will now go to Full Council for final approval, which really is a formality.