HAAO Forces Changes to Planned Traffic Calming Revisions on Reading Road

HAAO have forced an important change to planned traffic calming changes on Reading Road.

The traffic calming at the northern end of Reading Road has to change because of the new access road into the 70 home development. When the developer made their initial application, they recognised that the existing traffic calming was a danger to their new residents because cars leaving the site heading north could face cars driving towards them forced onto the “wrong” side of the road. This was correct but their proposed revision – swapping the two build-out islands to the opposite sides of the road from their existing placements – simply moved the exact same danger to John Morgan Close. It was a ridiculous proposal and could not possibly be implemented. Or so we thought.

HAAO first raised the issue with the planned changes before the plans went before Hart’s planning committee in 2014. The application was approved, with the Major Sites planning subcommittee to look at the issue in detail. HAAO then raised the issue at the relevant Major Sites subcommittee meeting and although the matter was not discussed at all, the assurance was given that Hampshire County Council Highways would look at it in detail and would only approve a safe scheme.

HAAO made representations at key stages of the development works over the next 4 years to both Hart District Council and HCC Highways at councillor and officer level to ensure that the matter was being addressed. Each time we received assurances that it would all be checked in great detail once the developer applied for the “Section 278” works to the public highway and no occupations could take place until there was a safe scheme in place.

But then some homes were occupied so HAAO stepped up the effort to find out what was going on and were told … nothing. Hart said it would outside of their remit as it was HCC Highways work. HCC Highways refused to discuss the matter. Councillors claimed to be investigating on our behalf but did not provide any additional information.

The developer then notified residents that highways works would start at the end of July this year but their named project manager whose contact details were provided was obstructive, referring all questions to HCC Highways. Since HCC Highways refused to correspond we resorted to freedom of Information requests.

Finally HCC Highways became more responsive. The FOI requests show that the developer’s original dangerous proposal had been rubber stamped for implementation until at last our representations were taken seriously, forcing it to be considered a second time. HCC Highways now agree that the original proposal had been dangerous for residents in John Morgan Close and that a simple repositioning would not work. The planned highways works were postponed and the works for a new proposal will now be carried out in September.

Rather than moving traffic onto opposite sides of the road as now, the new proposal will implement a narrowing of the road on both carriageways to slow traffic. It remains to be seen if this method will reduce speeds, though it has to be said the existing islands do not seem to slow down traffic all that much unless there are two vehicles facing each other.

It may seem like a small victory, but we think it is a very important one. The changes that were going to be implemented were dangerous, by HCC Highways’ belated realisation. The can was kicked down the road and the buck passed from one party to another. But by keeping on the case we finally got a result.