bus station costs soar by 20%

Bus station

Costs of the long awaited rebuild of Andover’s bus station have soared by £500,000 because of delays in completing the project. The initial cost of £2.4 million has now been revised to £2.9 million. The increase is because of last minute changes and delays with legal negotiations.

Once again the county council has failed to deliver on a major project and allowed the costs to soar. The bus station plans have been in place for over ten years. There is no excuse for the delays or the increased costs. Andover has been promised a new bus station the council should now deliver on that promise. What a pity it’s costing another half a million pounds of public money to do so.

Work is expected to start on the project in March. The new bus station will have extra capacity for buses, a new waiting room and café, and office space. The bus station will be closed for twelve months while work is completed.



I returned from holiday to discover that despite overwhelming local opposition and the unanimous support of councillors on the borough’s Northern Area Planning Committee Test Valley’s Planning Control Committee has approved plans to build 50 new homes at Shepherds Spring School.

I am indebted to Cllr Phil North for his support in opposing this plan and putting local people and their views above narrow political expediency. What a pity the same cannot be said of his colleague Janet Whiteley who at the PCC voted for the application. This is not the first time Mrs Whiteley has put party politics above representing the local electorate. She declined to support residents opposing Tory plans to divert Smannell Road through the new Augusta Park housing development and once famously voted for a plan to convert a house on King Arthurs Way into substandard flats arguing there were no parking problems in the area. Mrs Whiteley hopes to be mayor next year.

Meanwhile the real representative of local people, town councillor Barbara Carpenter, is getting on with the job of looking after local interests and getting things done. The latest Roman Way Forum took place on 30 June and the next is provisionally booked for 15 September. Blocked drains have been cleared in Caesar Close and Mrs Carpenter is working with council officers to get them to install additional disabled parking bays, repair footpaths and cut back overgrown trees in the area.


Roman Way residents are celebrating after Test Valley’s Northern Area Planning committee rejected proposals to build 50 homes at Shepherds Spring School.

The committee listened to representations from Cllr Barbara Long, of Andover town council, and from me, acting as spokesman for local residents. We both condemned the proposals as unsafe and unacceptable. The plan would have seen a new access road for fifty homes pushed through between the Andover Education centre and the Spring Meadow children’s centre onto the already busy Smannell Road.

We argued this access road would be unsafe for residents and users of the children’s centre and that it would cause traffic chaos in the area. These arguments were taken up by a number of committee members who questioned why a more suitable access hadn’t been considered. They were unanimous in expressing their concerns about the impact of extra traffic on residents and users of the two educational centres.

The proposal was badly researched, badly presented and not in the local interest. I am pleased to see it has been emphatically rejected. It sends a clear message to the developers that their plans are not good enough. The site, the residents and Andover deserve better and should get it.

Last night’s decision wasn’t however final as planners recommended it be referred to the borough’s planning control committee for ratification. Town councillor Barbara Carpenter who co-ordinated opposition to the plans said “Our campaign will continue. We have persuaded one committee that the proposals are unacceptable. We hope to do the same again.”

Shepherds Spring Housing update

In a surprise move the recommendation to approve plans for 50 homes at Shepherds Spring has been withdrawn. Test Valley planners have asked for more details from the highways department on the effect of the plans. Residents have always argued the highways surveys were inadequate and parents are concerned that the new access road will put children’s safety at risk.

Now it seems the planning department are finally listening and asking the same questions we have been asking. As a result of this no decision was made at Thursday’s planning meeting as we expected. I expect the plan to be resubmitted at another planning meeting perhaps as soon as the end of this month. I hope to see the planners have listened to local concerns and recommend refusal of the plan.

This laln is overdevelopment of the area and a threat to road safety. We will continue our campaign until the plans are rejected. I have already written to all the members of the planning committee urging them to reject the proposals. You can read a copy of my letter here Letter to NAP. I will also be speaking against the application when it finally comes to the committee.

The county council must start again with a safer and more realistic plan. In the meantime they should tidy up the site and use the land as allotments. I will keep telling them this in the hope they listen to commonsense.

Shepherd Spring Housing development – the battle continues

Opposition to the county council’s proposed overdevelopment of the old Shepherd Spring school playing fields is growing and residents have taken their campaign to the local press and radio.

On Thursday town councillor Barbara Carpenter was interviewed on Andover Sound (Andover Sound News) about the plans and on Friday the Andover Advertiser featured the objerctions. The photo below (courtesy of Andover Advertiser) shows local residents opposed to the plans.

There is another meeting of the Roman Way Forum next Saturday (11th February) where the application will be on the agenda and the next steps of the campaign to persuade the county council to drop this inappropriate plan will be discussed. All residents are invited. Come along and make your views known.
Follow this link for the full agenda and minutes of the previous meeting Roman Way Forum Agenda 11 February 2012


Residents of Roman Way and Swallowfields are urging Test Valley Borough Council to reject plans for new houses at Shepherds Spring School. The plans, drawn up by Hampshire County Council, are for fifty new homes on the school playing fields with access between the existing school buildings.

A number of residents have submitted written objections highlighting landscaping, noise, loss of a green field site, and poor access and traffic congestion as reasons for refusal. Objections have also been lodged by Andover Town Council, Sport England. As a former member of the borough’s planning control committee I fully understand their concerns and support their objections.

A petition of over 150 names opposing the development has also been delivered to the council. This describes the plan as overdevelopment, which will waste an important local facility. “The new development will generate unacceptable levels of additional traffic which will harm the local environment” they say. “It fails to address important issues such as adequate screening to prevent overlooking, sufficient measures to control noise pollution and most importantly a proper traffic management program.”

Andover Town Councillor Barbara Carpenter, who is leading the no campaign, said “Our most serious concerns are about the extra traffic. This plan will mean an extra 50+ cars entering and leaving the site between school buildings and onto the already busy Smannell Road, close to the existing Newbury Road junction. This is not good for existing or new residents. We hope the council will reject this plan and the developers come up with a more acceptable use for the land.”

Campaigners have been told the matter is likely be decided by the Northern Area Planning Committee in March. They are urging everyone in the area to continue submitting objections up until then. The Planning application number is 11/02729/OUTN and anyone can lodge comments. For further details contact
Barbara Carpenter on 01264 338388, [email protected]
or me on 07793 607190, [email protected]

The picture shows town councillors Barbara Long and Barbara Carpenter delivering letters of objection and the petition to TVBC offices

More Housing in Alamein

I read with interest the comments of the Alamein councillors on the possibility of a further 360 houses at East Anton. The three have continually championed development in the area, claiming credit for every new stage and turning up for every photo opportunity. Why the sudden change of heart?

Extra houses in the area have always been a possibility, particularly on the secondary school site. Mrs. Whiteley, as vice-chair of the Planning Committee, is well aware of this. The arguments these councillors now put forward against the extra 360 houses apply equally to the already-approved 2500. And they ignored every one of them. They did not, as Cllr North claims, “warn against further development.” They weren’t members of the council when the plans, increasing the development from 1700 to 2500 homes, were approved.

They have on many occasions claimed “less conversation more action.” But, when asked to support residents opposing the diversion of Smannell Road through Augusta Park they faded into the shadows. Are their latest statements mere political spin or will they now admit the policies they championed are flawed?

If they are serious in opposing further housing in the area they must come up with an alternative use for the school site. The council’s plan is for “a new community at East Anton.” Communities are much more than houses. They require leisure, commercial and employment facilities as well. Will the councillors now actively oppose these plans for more houses and fight for the extra infrastructure the area, and town, so desperately needs?

Government minister overules local Tories

I see that government inspectors and the Tory local government
minster have given the go-ahead for more housing at Picket Piece (Andover Advertiser July 8). In doing so the have overruled Test Valley Borough Council’s Planning department and councillors.

Once again Test Valley’s planning policies have beeninvestigated by a government inspector and found to be flawed. The decision to
grant planning permission for over 500 new houses at Picket Piece throws into doubt the council’s policy to allocate almost all new housing in Northern Test Valley to just two major development areas at East Anton and Picket Twenty. This plan is a key part of the Core Strategy rejected as unsound two years ago by another government inspector.

The policy was approved by the ruling Conservative group despite strong opposition from local residents and councillors who argued then
that the large concentration of housing in two locations was unsustainable and undeliverable. What were needed, we said, were smaller more manageable developments at a number of sites including Picket Piece – exactly what the government inspector and minister is now saying.

As a result Andover now has three major development areas supplying many more houses than it will need in the foreseeable future and the whole east side of the town blighted by development indefinitely

Most worrying is the reluctance of Cllr Hatley to admit they got it wrong. Instead he argues that councillors should be free to make the
wrong decisions without any right of appeal or supervisory control. How long before the inspectors are back to rule on another planning application which falls foul of the flawed local plan?

Tories new Poll Tax

Householders now have to pay a new flat fee for planning advice.

As well as fees for planning applications, Test Valley Borough Council has also introduced charges for pre-application planning advice. This is despite the unanimous decision of the Borough’s Scrutiny Committee that pre-planning advice for householders should remain free of charge.

“Planning officers admitted that pre-planning advice was free to encourage householders to make good quality planning applications”, says Scrutiny Committee member Cllr Mark Cooper. “Charging for the service will discourage its use, and will cost everyone extra time and money sorting out poor quality or inappropriate planning applications”.

The Borough has brought in a sliding scale of charges for commercial and larger planning applications. But householders will be charged a flat fee of £40, or £48 with VAT, whatever the size and nature of their planning application.

“I’ve no problem with the Borough charging for pre-application advice where the developer is making a profit”, says Cllr Cooper, ” But householders are applying for home improvements. There is no profit motive. The fee is the same whether the householder is applying for a porch extension or a large two-storey side extension. This crude fixed fee is like a planning poll tax and patently penalises modest home improvements as against major ones”.

Planning portfolio holder, Cllr Martin Hatley, made one concession and agreed that the pre-planning fees issue and the householder charge would be reviewed in six months to see if there was any negative impact on the planning system.

Augusta Park News

Yesterday I and the rest of the Alamein Lib Dem team visited Augusta Park to speak to residents about the issues that matter in their area.

While the majority of residents were happy with the new estate several raised concerns about specific issues  with which I am or will be dealing.

Many shared my view that the proposal to divert Smannell Road through the new estate is illogical, unacceptable and just plain stupid. However the government inspector and the government have decreed it will happen.

A number of street lights are still not working a year after they were installed and many sections of road and footpath are also unfinished.  I have asked for an update on when these jobs will be finished.

Parking is in many places badly managed and I have referred this to the council’s planning and highways departments.

Urgently needed are dog waste bins for the open space between Hedgerow Walk and Smannell Road. I have formally requested these be discussed at the next Smannell parish council meeting. I want to see some installed as soon as possible.