Report says bus route land should be ‘protected’

The area of land next to Tichborne Way in Gosport.
The area of land next to Tichborne Way in Gosport.
M27. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A REPORT which could alter the route of a controversial bus scheme has been kept from the public – months after it was written.

The News can today reveal an independent inspector has recommended an area of land along the route in Gosport be protected and not built on.

Residents had applied to have the site off Tichborne Way designated as a village green.

Hampshire County Council, which is behind the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, had asked Vivian Chapman QC to investigate.

In his report, seen by The News and dated as October last year, he recommends the majority of the land – known locally as The Triangle – should have protected status.

But the report has never been put before a committee and made public.

Hampshire County Council said there were further legal issues that had to be resolved.

But campaigners have accused the council of withholding the report as the land in question is the main access for the bus route.

Janet Lidgey, of The Chine, Gosport, who made the application, said: ‘We believe they’re stalling to try and find something wrong with the inspector’s report because they don’t like it.’

‘We’re getting increasingly annoyed.

‘It’s stupid that this is taking so long.’

Christine White, of nearby Downside, added: ‘We can’t understand why it’s all so secret.

‘Keeping us waiting so long is ridiculous.’

Beryl Read, of Downside, who gave evidence at the inquiry, said: ‘I think it’s absolutely disgusting the way the council seems to be doing whatever it wants.

‘But we aren’t against the BRT, there are other sites which would be better for the access road.’

Hampshire County Council asked an independent inspector to consider the village green application as it holds conflicting positions as both the planning body and the builders of the BRT.

A similar proposal, where residents applied for land off Fareham Road to be a village green – but also potentially affecting the BRT route – went from inquiry to committee in three months last year.

On that occasion Mr Chapman didn’t agree with the application.

If the council goes against Mr Chapman’s recommendation with regard the Tichborne Way land, campaigners can appeal to the High Court.

Transport boss, Cllr Mel Kendal, insisted the bus route would still go-ahead even if councillors decided to grant the land village green status.

‘We would clearly need to look carefully at the position should such a decision be taken by the regulatory committee, but I do believe that this would not prejudice the delivery of the overall BRT scheme,’ he said.

Regarding the delay in making the report public, Councillor Margaret Snaith-Tempia, who’s in charge of culture and recreation, added: ‘Due to the complex areas of law involved the council is seeking further legal advice on specific matters raised in the case.’