Bus gate could be opened for a year’s trial if it’s approved

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A PLANNING application has gone into the council for a trial lowering of a controversial bus gate.

Subject to councillors giving permission, the bus gate on Yew Tree Drive, Whiteley, will be lowered due to overwhelming demand from residents.

A survey was carried out by Hampshire County Council which asked 5,228 residents and businesses in Whiteley, Burridge, Swanwick and Park Gate if they wanted a trial opening of the automatic bus gate.

The survey results showed strong support for a trial, 83 per cent of responses saying yes, subject to traffic mitigation measures being put in place. A total of 2,664 responses were received.

A planning application has been submitted to Fareham Borough Council this week by the highway authority, Hampshire County Council, for a one year trial to run from the decision date, which would take the trial into early 2014.

The bus gate has been lowered for the last few months because of pier replacement works taking place on the motorway bridge at Park Gate.

Delays to these works will see the bus gate remain open for three months after the work’s expected finish date in January.

The planning application has attracted more than 100 comments and these will be taken into account by the planning committee.

One comment made by Daniel Rix said: ‘I would like to see the bus lane kept open forever. It makes such a difference to the majority of people.’

Another, Kate Browne, said: ‘The opening of the Whiteley Shopping Centre has brought increased traffic to the whole area.

‘In my view it is essential to have an exit route from Whiteley for safety reasons and to reduce the traffic using the already congested M27 and Segensworth roundabout.’

County councillor for Whiteley division, Sean Woodward, said: ‘People have asked why a planning application is needed for the trial.

‘The local plan policy, made many years before the link was provided, stated that Yew Tree Drive would only be opened to all traffic once Whiteley Way was completed.

‘No one could have envisaged that over a quarter of a century later, we would still be waiting the construction of Whiteley Way. ‘The recent review of the local plan for Fareham made it the appropriate time to review the policy for the bus gate.’

If the application is approved, then mitigation measures, such as a 20mph limit and flashing speed signs, will be put in place.

Cllr Woodward added: ‘There is no doubt that traffic volume and speed has increased very significantly on Yew Tree Drive and it is important that while traffic volumes increase, the speeds must be forced down.’

It is expected that Fareham’s planning committee will decide on the plans at its meeting in August.