COMMENT: Bypass must not be allowed to fall by the wayside

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TO SAY that the Stubbington bypass is a project decades in the making is no mere exaggeration. And during that time, the need for such a road has become more urgent with every passing year.

With such limited road access into and out of Gosport, commuters have been calling for the bypass more often out of desperation than hope that it would actually become a reality.

So when things started moving in recent years towards making it happen, it must have seemed like the end was finally in sight. It is now a scheme with £34m of government and county council funding behind it.

But news that there planning applications in for nearly 700 homes on the strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport boroughs is unlikely to help matters. Their impact on the road system and other infrastructure would be a disaster.

When a new town north of Fareham – now Welborne – was mooted, for a long time residents were told it had to be accepted to save green spaces like the strategic gap. Indeed, the spectre of rapacious developers waiting to snap up the land if Welborne wasn’t approved in Fareham Borough Council’s local plan was used as a key selling point for the market town (which still has to see a single brick laid, but that’s another matter).

To find out that this very land could now not only be built on, but that it could also derail the bypass is rather disheartening.

Yes, the land is on Fareham’s side of the divide, and it is FBC’s planning committee which will get to make the decision on these applications, but it is obviously going to have a significant impact on those to the south on the Gosport peninsula. The views of those in Gosport who will be most affected should not be discounted.

The Stubbington bypass needs to be built. These proposals should not be allowed to halt that. People have waited too long to see it become it so close to reality for it to fail now.