Green light given for consultation on Whitehill and Bordon public transport options
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Hampshire County Council has given the go ahead for a public consultation on the potential public transport options for Whitehill and Bordon to provide an attractive alternative to the private car.
The draft Public Transport Strategy sets out several realistic choices for public transport improvements to meet the expected growth in demand as a result of planned regeneration in Whitehill and Bordon. These options, including bus and bus rapid transit as well as a range of rail options, have been put forward following feasibility studies to assess whether they meet the needs of existing and future residents, are achievable and have identifiable sources of funding available.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said:
"Consultation events with residents to date have indicated a lack of satisfaction with the choice of public transport currently available. To meet the needs of both current and future residents in the area, especially with the significant expansion of the town planned when the Ministry of Defence leaves Bordon, it is important to consider viable options for improving existing public transport choices. The aim of the strategy is to reduce people's reliance on the car for travelling both locally and to key destinations outside the area such as the Blackwater Valley and Petersfield.
"We have looked very carefully at the potential for delivering a rail connection to the town, in accordance with Network Rail's 'Governance for Railway Investment Projects' - GRIP - and the Department for Transport's appraisal guidance. A Stage 2 GRIP study indicated the introduction of a through route to Bentley connecting to direct services to London had potential. In order to establish a business case however, it was necessary to test this option by means of the Stage 3 GRIP study. Only at this stage could the operational constraints be fully assessed, more detailed costs estimated and potential funding options considered. This study concluded that development of a rail service would not be viable within the period of the development masterplan without significant impacts on existing rail services and did not provide sufficient value for money to offset the large capital costs. So securing public funding for any of the rail options will be challenging, as a result of the economic climate and competition from other schemes which represent better value for money.
"However, the strategy sets out an extensive range of options that together - with our partners - could be delivered and would provide a significant improvement in public transport provision in the town, capable of accommodating the growth in population over the next 20 years. The focus is on providing high quality bus routes to cater for journeys between home, employment and leisure destinations, coupled with improvements to public transport interchanges and bus priority measures.
"We would encourage local residents to get involved in the consultation, have a look at the options and send us their views."
The draft Public Transport Strategy will be available for reading and comment, online, from 17 September. Anyone who does not have access to a computer can request copies of the strategy from Strategic Transport, Environment Department, Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester, S023 8UD.
The Governance of Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) 3 study for Whitehill and Bordon will also be available to read, as an appendix to the draft Strategy.