A PEDESTRIAN bridge over Whitehill and Bordon’s new relief road is looking unlikely, despite a petition calling for the town’s favourite walks to be saved.
Campaigners called, in June, for the construction of a footbridge to give walkers access to woodland and green spaces.
Lucy Holden told the Bordon Herald that she had started the petition after hearing that Budds Lane field would close to pave the way for the new Mill Chase Academy to be built.
“After this green area closes, two central spaces will be inaccessible to the public as the footpath leading to Oxney Farm has been closed off since work on the relief road started in this area on April 18,” she added.
According to the petition, the “dramatic change of landscape” in Whitehill and Bordon is “heartbreaking”, and one of the town’s iconic spots is “now but a shadow of its former beauty”.
“This campaign has been initiated to reflect the views of local townspeople who want to be able to still have access to what is left of the green spaces in Bordon,” it adds.
“Old, well-used footpaths have been closed without alternatives offered and road developers have not considered where local people will walk. “We want to enact change, which is why we are petitioning for a pedestrian bridge to be built off Station Road, leading to Oxney Moss Road and Martinique Square, so that we may still have access to our local outside spaces.”
Hampshire county councillor Adam Carew praised the community engagement and said: “Lucy has done a tremendous job in highlighting local concerns and I hope she will keep in touch and get involved during the next stage of public consultation.”
Mr Carew said he had arranged a meeting with her and senior representatives of the regeneration project, including Allen Harris from Carillion, who is heading the relief-road project, and Ian Parker, former director of the county council’s regeneration work in Whitehill and Bordon and now a part-time consultant for the Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, which is developing the Prince Philip Barracks area.
“He was ideally placed given his former role at the county (council) and his long-term involvement and knowledge of this £1billion project,” Mr Carew added.
“Lucy was concerned that she and others no longer had access to land east of the (former) Havana Officers’ Mess over to Oxney Moss.
“The land in question was fenced off due to the relief road.
“She was also concerned that when the relief road was built, she and other dog walkers would no longer be able to cross safely to the other side - hence her petition for a new footbridge.
“Mr Parker explained that land next to the former officers’ mess was Ministry Of Defence (MOD) land, as was the land on which the relief road is being constructed, and the land on the opposite site of the new road.
“The old MOD track here, off Station Road, is just that, an Army track - it is not and has never been a public right of way.
“The land in question on the opposite side of the relief road is part of the MOD’s defence-training area. Again there appears to be no special public right of access here, other than is permitted under MOD byelaws.
“As I had been previously advised, when myself and other councillors raised a similar idea of a footbridge at Louisburg last year, there are no developers contributions or funding available for a footbridge across the relief road either at Louisburg or at this point,” Mr Carew said.
“The county (council)?has been commissioned by the MOD to build the road and there is no provision for a footbridge in those plans.
“Mr Harris confirmed that such a project would be likely to cost £750,000.
“Crossings had to be put where footfall was likely to be at its highest, and those had already been submitted and approved as part of the lengthy planning process two years ago in 2015.
“The land in question on the other side of the relief road, which Lucy wanted access to, is a military training area.
“It was thought unlikely by Mr Parker that the MOD would agree to any form of bridge or crossing to promote access onto their land at this point. Nevertheless, he has kindly agreed ‘to ask the question’.”
Ultimately, Mr Carew said he welcomed the engagement.
“It is critically important that councillors, planners and developers listen carefully to local concerns such as those raised by Lucy,” he said.
“The fact that I was able to get very senior officers and developers to meet with her at short notice is, in itself, a positive sign that they are listening and taking these matters seriously.
“Change is never easy. Yet with all the major aspects of the regeneration planned for 2019 less than two years away, I think we have a great deal to be excited about and to look forward to.
“We only have one chance at this and we have to all work together to get it right.
“This is our town, our future.”