Virus Focus on Green Spaces
Cllr. Wilson’s statement concerning the HI Transport Assessment Addendum (Herald May 2020 p.9) that the Hayling Infrastructure Advisory Group (HIAG) were “fully up to speed on how it was being done” is debatable. In 2018 the Group repeatedly requested training and knowledge of the Council’s parameters for the Council’s proposed microsimulation model for Hayling’s Transport Assessment. This is because parameters can determine an analysis outcome. The Group were never given either the training or the parameters set by the Council. As for the outcome of the systems analysis, the many questions it raised resulted in Councillors voting on an Addendum (January 2019) to ‘recommend that further work should be carried out to improve’ it. As has been repeatedly publicised by HIRA, Save Our Island and others since the Addendum’s publication (November 2019), many Hayling residents and Councillors are unconvinced by the final Microsimulation’s proposals: roundabouts, traffic lights, re-configuring of West Lane and use of the Billy Trail as an Emergency Vehicle Route will not solve the A3023’s capacity problems let alone justify the additional traffic resulting from over 1000 new homes on the Island.
Whilst it is the case that the Council, as Cllr. Wilson also stated, needs ‘to consider the needs of the whole community’, Hayling’s A3023 and limited road network already reaches saturation point during the year, affecting everyone. Will the road system be sufficient to cater for long queues caused by traffic lights? Emergency Vehicles’ use of the Billy Trail will inevitably increase, preventing that as the ‘whole community’s’ leisure route: bird-watching, horse-riding, cycling along the Billy Trail part of the historic south Coast Shipwrights Way cannot compete with Emergency Vehicles.
The Government, particularly during the current pandemic, extols the vital role for everyone’s well-being of cycling and walking; yet slow-moving and queuing cars emit more exhaust fumes which not only harm their occupants but passing pedestrians and cyclists on our narrow roads. The Billy Trail’s crumbling western coastline - even before the predicted minimum 1 metre sea rise – will have no sea defences. Moving it inland jeopardizes the increasingly precarious coastal habitat for the much trumpeted mitigation strategies for migratory birds. If the Council’s plan is that Hayling must have a similar housing density to other parts of the Borough, then Hayling will cease to attract urban escapees’ revenue and, worse, our traffic density will add to the A27 and A3’s unresolved congestion. As we all know, not everyone can work from home and there is no realistically large-scale local employment planned for the 11,000 new homes feeding into Havant’s major roadways.
COVID-19 focusses attention on our living and working environments. High-quality green spaces within housing developments to provide social distancing and well-being have been urged as of ‘critical importance’ by Ecological Planning and Research Ltd. (Planning Portal News May 7). Where will these be on Hayling as our green spaces will be built on and the Government’s own planning rules (NPPF) demand maximum properties per development? The Government’s newly proposed ‘pop-up cycle lanes’ throughout England will also be difficult if not impossible on Hayling’s narrow roads: “Pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England within weeks as part of a £250 million emergency active travel fund - the first stage of a £2 billion investment,” (Gov.uk Dept. of Transport Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP May 9th). Where will these be on Hayling?
If, sadly, COVID-19 does persist, will the Government’s own NPPF requirements requiring maximum properties per development have to be re-written, as tiny gardens, tightly packed- in homes will make safe social distancing extremely challenging.