Safety concerns raised over new road junction in Warblington

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NEIGHBOURS will plead with a council not to allow a housing development next to a level crossing over fears it is an accident waiting to happen.

Controversial plans to build 78 new homes on an unused playing field at Warblington School have been recommended for approval by planning officers at Havant Borough Council.

But residents and community leaders have major concerns as the only access road to the development would be 25m away from a busy level crossing in New Lane.

The gates can be shut for up to 20 minutes – which already leads to long queues north and south. A planning report states the development would create an extra 362 car trips a day feeding into this traffic.

Resident Ivan Morley, 73, of Fairfield Road, Havant, is not against the new homes in principal, but is worried the proposed access would lead to accidents on the level crossing.

He said: ‘You get queues of traffic north and south for 15 to 20 minutes and there could be a situation when somebody is going to be caught on the railway line.

‘Somebody will come across and get it wrong.

‘Because of the potential conflict of interest, the site should not be approved. It’s in a totally inappropriate location.’

Network Rail initially said the development could potentially lead to ‘misuse of the crossing’ and train delays.

But developer Bloor Homes is now proposing to widen New Lane, creating an area for cars to perform a U-turn.

Leigh Park County Councillor Ann Buckley, a former chair of governors at nearby Fairfield Infant School, was not convinced.

She said: ‘There is no mention in the report that over 300 parents of pupils at Fairfield School signed a petition opposing the planning application because of worries about the access.

‘I am very concerned about how construction traffic would access the site.

‘There is no emphasis in the report on the large number of pedestrians, particularly young children and cyclists, that use this very congested area each day.’

Previous safety audits dating back to 2006 have highlighted the potentially hazardous nature of the junction if houses were built.

But, according to the latest studies, highway engineers at Hampshire County Council have said the access is ‘adequate and acceptable’.

A planning report states widening the road will create an opportunity for drivers to perform a U-turn and seek an alternative route.

It states: ‘The transport assessment concludes therefore that rather than creating a safety problem, the proposed entrance will conversely provide an opportunity to reduce queues and congestion in this section of New Lane by providing an alternative option for waiting drivers.’

A final decision will be made at a planning meeting at The Plaza, Havant, at 5pm tomorrow.