THE potential for having a northern relief road in Fordingbridge to combat traffic problems could be explored in the town’s neighbourhood plan.

Fordingbridge Town Council’s planning committee agreed to support the principle of a Northern Relief Road at a meeting on Wednesday, September 9, which was held via Zoom.

Councillor Mike Jackson said “most people in the town are concerned about the traffic in the High Street” and with Site 16, the development being proposed for Station Road coming forward there was an “opportunity to look at” whether the route of a northern relief road going from the Ashford area through to Burgate cross could be established.

He suggested the council could use its neighbourhood plan to look at a relief road, adding: “I think it is something we ought to be investigating. If we don’t do it now and Site 16 gets approval we have lost the opportunity.”

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Councillor Edward Hale said: “A lot of that route will be built by the developers, particularly across site 17 [land at Whitsbury Road] because they are going to need to put a road in across that. There is going to be the environmental impact of that when that development is done.

"It just seems short sighted if we don’t try and encourage something across site 16 as well that would link in with that. I’m not saying we are going to build it straight away but we need to leave the opportunity there as we consider the developments one by one.”

Councillor Malcolm Adams said: “It is possibly the last opportunity we have to get a road like this and it would be remiss of us not to give it a go.”

This was echoed by Councillor Diane Paton who added: “We need to give it a lot of thought and effort. If it doesn’t come to anything at least we have tried.”

Councillor Jackson said alternatives would “need to be investigated” as a longer route had also been suggested.

“It is to get the principle whether we as a council want to investigate it. I’m not saying we could get it through but there are a number of issues at the moment and we ought to look at it and exhaust all possibilities because if we don’t we will be left with site 16 going through the town.”

The application for site 16, land north of Station Road, is seeking outline planning permission for 240 homes on site 16, has been submitted to New Forest District Council by Infinite Homes.

Cllr Paton said: “At the moment the location is up for discussion isn’t it. It is what we can achieve.”

“If we ignore it now we won’t have the option will we,” she added.

Cllr Hale added: “It is only ever going to be built in stages but each time we look at an application we have got to try and encourage that that section is used or is available so we can eventually link it all together.”

Cllr Adams said “If we ignore it now we’ll end up in the future not being able to do it because of the development that is on that route.”

Councillor Jackson told the meeting two possibilities had been put forward, adding: “It is now incumbent on us to take the opportunity to investigate those and any others that might pop up.”

Councillor Alan Lewendon said: “If we don’t do this Normandy Way, Parsonage Park Drive will get hit with quite a lot of traffic trying to get through the eventual connection with the A338.”

When the matter was raised at a meeting of the full council on September 2 Councillor Anna Wilson said she would be “dead set against it” and that it was “one of the most ecologically sensitive bits of the town”.

She suggested a width limit in the High Street and that surveys be done to look at HGV traffic.

She said: “We need to pursue the problems with traffic in the High Street but I don’t think building another road is the solution.”