In a move that will open up part of the coast at Fawley, in the New Forest overseeing Southampton Water, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has made an investment of over £5.6 million capital funding. The money has been awarded to Hampshire County Council towards major improvements to the A326, the key road linking Southampton and Fawley, where there are plans to transform the old power station site into a thriving residential and commercial waterside community.
The highway improvement scheme to enhance eight junctions on the A326 corridor will increase capacity where congestion and delays are currently a frequent occurrence. The work to improve the infrastructure will bring a raft of benefits to cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and other road users. Longer-term benefits include the acceleration of developing the proposed Fawley Waterside development, and minimising the potential increased traffic flows associated with it.
Solent LEP board director SJ Hunt said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought with it challenges for our economy unlike any that have been seen before. The potential economic impact on our economy cannot be underestimated and alongside our immediate work to support businesses and to guide the economic recovery of the Solent area over the short term, we are now bringing forward a number of investments to support our coastal communities.
“The A326 is the key corridor serving the Waterside Peninsula which accommodates 70,000 people and its upgrade will support the LEP’s strategic goal for the Solent region by accelerating the Fawley Waterside development. The transformational impact that the scheme will have makes it important for the region, especially at a time when a proactive road to recovery post the COVID-19 pandemic is needed.”
Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “Improving the A326 is a priority for the County Council and our project teams are actively exploring solutions for the congested northern section of the route, and also this programme of local junction improvements for southern waterside area along the A326 south of Dibden. These works will reduce congestion and delays and support and encourage cycling, walking and active lifestyles.
“We are working with Fawley Waterside and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to bring forward a number of targeted improvements, funded through the Solent LEP’s Local Growth Fund to increase capacity at the eight junctions, to improve access for communities to employment and education, and to support the economic prosperity of the area.”
The total project costs are estimated to be £8.1m, with £5.68m from the Solent LEP and £2.43m match contribution from Fawley Waterside.
Aldred Drummond, CEO of Fawley Waterside said: “The LEP’s investment coupled with £2.43m from Fawley Waterside is the first phase of significant infrastructure upgrades that will be of considerable benefit to those living on the Waterside. The main concern from local residents has understandably been traffic on the A326. These early road improvements are unusual as will be completed before development begins securing better access for drivers, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians and in turn invigorating the economy of the Solent region.
“Plans to transform the Fawley Power Station site are hugely exciting for the Solent. It will provide increased employment and business opportunities, whilst also boosting the region’s credentials as a leisure destination.”
The proposed junction improvement works are as follows:
- Blackfield Road/Church lane/B3053, signalised junction proposed, including new crossing facilities;
- Long Lane/A326 (Holbury Roundabout), widening of approaches and exit lanes;
- A326/Holbury Drove, new southbound right-turn island including new pedestrian crossing facilities;
- A326/Southbourne Avenue, new southbound right-turn island;
- Hardley Roundabout, widening of approaches and exit lanes;
- Dibden Purlieu Roundabout, widening of approaches and exit lanes;
- Applemore Roundabout (Sizer Way) widening of approaches and exit lanes;
- Dibden Roundabout, Dibden Roundabout, widening of approaches and exit lanes and new pedestrian crossing.