Driving into Portsmouth on the M275, you can’t see the full scale of the work that’s happening nearby.
Motorists can’t see what’s going on at the bottom of the southbound off-slip because they have to keep their eyes on the road ahead.
But The News can lift the lid on what’s going on after it was given exclusive access to the site, where the £28m park and ride scheme and Tipner Interchange is taking shape.
Contractor VolkerFitzpatrickColas, a joint venture between VolkerFitzpatrick and Colas, is carrying out the work.
As a construction site the area is currently off-limits to anyone else.
Workers have put the framework in for the bus turning circle at the park and ride and surfaced the roads leading to it.
The land has been raised by 1m to prevent flooding.
Drainage barriers have been installed and access from Tipner Lane will be bollarded off, so when everything’s completed motorists can’t use it as a rat-run through existing residential streets to and from the motorway.
Work has also begun on an acoustic barrier running from Tipner down to the Rudmore roundabout to reduce the noise from traffic on the motorway and new junction, although it won’t need to go alongside Stamshaw Park where the existing hill suppresses the motorway noise.
Next month, building work will begin on a single-storey passenger waiting area at the park and ride, where a big pile of drain pipes currently sits.
Fifty workers are involved in the construction with another 15 to 20 office-based staff on site.
VolkerFitzpatrickColas project manager Goodwin Kirk said he was pleased with the progress being made.
‘Things are going very well,’ he said.
‘When we started the project we said we were going to finish in spring next year, and we are on target to achieve that and perhaps beat it.’
At the park and ride, there will be a car park with more than 660 parking spaces.
It will be linked to the interchange, a roundabout going under the motorway, and connect the park and ride to the M275.
Four sliproads northbound and southbound will run to and from the new Tipner Interchange junction.
There are also plans to include some public artwork on the new interchange roundabout.
To keep it environmentally-friendly rainwater will be reused to flush the toilets, solar panels will be installed on the roof and canopy of the passenger building and there will be under-floor heating using a ground-source heat pump.
Electric charge points will be available for cars.
Work on the interchange started in January this year and the park and ride site started taking shape in March.
Graham Baggaley, the council’s project manager who is overseeing the park and ride and interchange work, said: ‘What’s happening is absolutely wonderful. This area is the major gateway into Portsmouth.
‘What we hope to do is take cars off the road, and put them in the park and ride. This is one of the biggest building projects on the south coast at the moment.’
The scheme is transforming seven acres of council-owned derelict land.
Portsmouth City Council has invested £8.5m and the rest has come from the Department for Transport.
Colas, which looks after roads in the city, has prevented extra expenditure and disruption by fitting in its routine maintenance on the motorway with the building work.
As previously reported in The News, that’s involved waterproofing the bridges during the summer. Similar work is scheduled for the autumn.
Seamus Meyer, the council’s strategic project manager, who is overseeing everything that’s happening in Tipner, said there was talk of redeveloping the area back in the 1970s.
‘The M275 is the major gateway into Portsmouth and was flanked by the landfill site and boat scrapyards,’ he said. ‘We want to improve and regenerate the whole area.
‘People ask, why have things taken so long?
‘It’s complicated with land ownership, heavily contaminated land from previous industrial uses and low-lying land requiring flood defences. The problems we’ve faced here are quite challenging, but the clean-up has begun, and the new junction will improve access. There will be big benefits for Portsmouth; up to 1,900 new homes and space for employment and 1,700 new jobs through the regeneration of Tipner and Horsea Island.
‘If things weren’t so complicated then these things would have been done years ago. People were talking about doing something with Tipner 40 years ago.
‘The park and ride scheme will help to reduce future traffic congestion.
‘There are only three road routes into the city so potential congestion is an issue that we need to address.
‘The park and ride facility will have more than 600 parking spaces for people to park next to the motorway and then take a fast bus into the city.’
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING
The park and ride is one of the key elements of a £130m project to regenerate Tipner, with plans for 1,600 new homes, business space to support 1,500 new jobs, and a hotel.
To the east of the park and ride are separate plots of land owned by The Tipner Regeneration Company (TRC), which has permission to build 518 homes, and The Homes and Communities Agency, which is planning to begin building 80 new homes and a small shop.
More homes and jobs could be created once the park and ride and Tipner Interchange is finished as it will unlock more land in Tipner, west of the M275, and land on Horsea Island, which is currently owned by the Ministry of Defence.
City council strategic planning manager Seamus Meyer said: ‘We need more homes in Portsmouth - there is a shortage. There are big housing targets which we need to achieve. The clean-up of The Homes and Communities Agency site is complete and it wants to start its first phase of building 80 homes towards the end of 2014.’
Meanwhile, work has begun on developing of 120 acres of land at the former Paulsgrove Landfill Site, near Port Solent, into Horsea Island Country Park.
Up to 50,000 trees will be planted and there will be cycleways and footpaths put in.
The work, which is being carried out by environmental firm Veolia, is expected to be done by 2016.
If the council can secure funding then it would build a bridge that connects the country park to Tipner.
Seamus said: ‘If all the plans came to fruition then the overall investment between the public and private sectors would be over £500m.’