Similar issues have been raised in the past and some discussions have taken place directly with Buildbase. The management of the business have previously been understanding of the residents concerns and proactive in trying to ease some of the problems, such as arranging for deliveries to be made outside of school muster times and displaying a notice reminding drivers to use the rear access for deliveries. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the business it is difficult for them to ensure that all drivers comply and there will inevitably be some instances where access is not available at the rear. However, these discussions last took place some years ago and in view of the ongoing concerns, the Traffic Management team will raise the matter again with the current manager and ask for some further assistance. We will also notify Gosport Borough Council that it has been suggested that their own arrangements with the firm have exacerbated the problems.
Following discussions with the local Member, Councillor Chegwyn, and Gosport Police, we have advertised a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). We intend to implement a loading ban at the Whitworth Road/Whitworth Close junction to prevent delivery vehicles stopping there. In Whitworth Close, double yellow lines are proposed across the Buildbase entrance to improve access for vehicles into the service area, and also on the bend at the eastern end of the road to assist through traffic. A single yellow line preventing parking from 9am to 5pm is proposed on the north side opposite Buildbase to further ease access, whilst retaining evening parking for residents. These measures obviously rely on driver compliance, but the Police have assured us they will try to pay some attention to this area in view of the ongoing complaints. As you may know the Police have recently taken on a new Traffic Warden in Gosport, which will help with more regular parking enforcement across the Borough.
The TRO advertising period has recently finished and some objections have been received, which we will shortly be reviewing. You submitted a copy of your petition with an objection, but the petition has not been accepted as part of his objection as it was dated and signatures obtained before the TRO was advertised. As long as drivers comply with the proposed restrictions, these measures should help to ease the problems being experienced. More extensive restrictions would have adversely affected the residents themselves and further displaced the parking elsewhere, including further along Whitworth Close and nearer to the entrance to Leesland Infant School where parking space is already at a premium.
Restrictions on the size of vehicles also requires the implementation of a TRO. However, they are not always practical measures to implement and are not necessarily the solution that residents perceive. They require exemptions for legitimate access, such as deliveries, maintenance and refuse vehicles etc, and are impractical for the Police to enforce on a regular basis.
Additional bollards on the footway on the north side of Whitworth Close have previously been considered, but it was felt this could cause further obstruction problems. Whilst it is not ideal that vehicles park partly on the footway, bollards would displace them wholly onto the road creating further problems for through traffic, especially larger vehicles. The single yellow line should deter drivers from parking there, and any who continue to do so risk Police enforcement. There are also underground services with large chamber covers on this footway towards the Whitworth Road end that may prevent bollards being installed.
Gosport Borough Council's Development Control team have confirmed there are no planning grounds to force Buildbase to relocate to an industrial area. Although the premises may have changed ownership, the business has remained of a similar nature and has been in place for many years. It is often the case that established premises expand and this can be difficult to control unless formal planning applications are made relating to a change of use, for instance from commercial to residential.
Gosport BC has previously spoken to the business about the Health and Safety aspects of the fork lift vehicles operating on the road. However, their jurisdiction is restricted internally to the business premises and not the highway. The business does of course have a duty to ensure activities are carried out safely and we will include this issue in our letter to them.
Finally, I can confirm that 'No through road' (T symbol) signs are already displayed on the street nameplates on both side of Whitworth Close at the Whitworth Road junction. It has been noted that one is a little worn and the other partly covered by some foliage, although they are both visible. Gosport BC is responsible for street nameplates, so in view of the ongoing complaints we will ask them to consider any necessary maintenance to improve the conspicuity of the signs.
Councillor Melville Kendal
Executive Member for Environment and Transport