Badly Planned Housing Estates: The Welborne Mess

I don't have time to write this up properly, but I couldn't let this pass without comment, so have quickly thrown this page together.

I had so far abstained from commenting on Welborne. As a historian I will always prefer the past to the future, and my body will always reject the idea of a town being built on what I might arrogantly consider my countryside.

However, it's pretty pathetic to object to a proposal purely because you don't like change. If you have a real, substantive reason, and not a silly vague one like traffic or flooding which NIMBYs always hide behind when they don't want to look selfish, then you should absolutely air that view.

Fareham has always been growing, and not just around Whiteley. Thousands of houses were built in the Highlands and Portchester in one go. Most of Locks Heath was built in one go. Secretly we'd all like the town to be frozen in the past but who gets to dictate the time period and who has to demolish all the houses which have been built since then? Fareham has never been about standing still, it has never been frozen (except in the winter of 2010, that is).

That's what I think. It's totally hypocritical, but the perk of owning your own website is that you can pipe up when you see something that's not right. That's what I'm doing this evening.

Daily Echo Article: Revealed: The £40m scheme that will transform the M27.

Firstly, there are some inaccuracies in the article: the current Roche Court Interchange (junction 10) is one of the least congested major roads in Hampshire, not the most. The new junction is surely not within existing highway land as suggested. The proposed layout is not a "full cloverleaf", it is the complete opposite. The map is also misleading.

I'm getting those out the way in case I go on to comment on something which also turns out to be untrue. Having dealt with Highways England and local newspaper reporters before, I am willing to believe that Highways England have sent out a badly-written press release about how great they are, and the Daily Echo have re-printed all the spin.

Here are my outstanding "concerns" with the proposal which I spotted in the article:

I am not a highway designer or a social engineer. I am a nobody who drives a lot.

I do know that everybody will have a complaint of some sort about this junction and Welborne whether it is built or not.

I also appreciate how the world works. Developers pay big money to build shops and houses next to busy roads and in return pay pittance for some road improvements which the cash-strapped council can't afford on their own. When they get told to pay more, the developer threatens to pull the plug, leaving the council begging for the tiny offer they had been given.

The problem we have is that, as we've learned at Quay Street (Tesco Fareham) and as we've learned at motorway junctions across the country, people like Tesco and Buckland Homes are good at making cheap buildings but they know nothing about how to build decent roads. And increasingly (after all the good ones got fed up with bashing their heads against walls), neither do the professionals.

In summary, what we have here is a very lazy piece of design work that looks like it has been outsourced to a large agency like Atkins, who have decided that they are too important to deal with something so menial, so they have asked their junior staff to quickly throw something together that keeps the developer happy and uses elements that require no engineering knowledge. The approved signage plan contains numerous technical errors that would make each sign an illegal obstruction of the public highway, all of which suggests that nobody with any actual interest in transport has looked at it, they have just given it a stamp and asked the PR department to say how great it is. Likewise there are issues with the marking of the M27 merge. This would also explain why they were so keen to remove the loop, because it takes more time to work with something bespoke that is more creative than a bog-standard roundabout.