A326 (North) Waterside Improvements

Last update: June 2024

Latest Update

Public engagement on the feasibility design for the scheme took place during summer 2023, from 5 June to 16 July. You can still read the information pack, frequently asked questions and watch the fly through video.

Please see the findings report from the engagement that summarises all the feedback received and several changes have been made to the designs in response to what residents and stakeholders have told us which you can read in this report.

The feedback from the engagement will be used to inform the next stage of scheme design, ahead of a Planning Application for the scheme that is intended to be made in early 2025.

The Decision Report has been approved by the Leader and Executive Member for Hampshire 2050 and Corporate Services on 22 January 2024 and confirms the continued development of the A326 North scheme.  This report includes a summary of the engagement feedback and the County Council’s response to the key points; it provide details of how the scheme design is being updated in light of the feedback; and summarises the next steps for developing the scheme.

Scheme Overview and Investigation Works

Hampshire County Council is currently developing a major highway improvement scheme for a northerly section of the A326 in the Waterside area of New Forest District. This is a separate scheme to the A326 (South) Fawley Waterside improvements, information on which can be found here.

The study area for the scheme is between and including the Michigan Way junction in west Totton and the Main Road junction at Dibden. The scheme will involve:

  • Junction capacity improvements;
  • Improvements for non-motorised users including new crossing facilities;
  • Road widening to provide additional traffic lanes; and
  • Environmental compensation and enhancement works.

Funding has been secured from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Large Local Majors Fund to develop the scheme up to the point of Outline Business Case (OBC) and Planning Application submission, but no funding has yet been secured to implement the scheme.

The scheme forms part of the Waterside Transport Strategy and Action Plan, which was approved by the Executive Lead Member for Transport and Environment Strategy (ELMTES) Decision Day on Monday 7 November 2022 – see Item 4. Three initial options for the scheme were consulted on as part of the public consultation for this Strategy in summer 2021, the results of which can be viewed in the 7 November 2022 ELMTES Report.


Highways Investigation Works

To inform preliminary design work various surveys are currently ongoing along the A326 between west Totton and Dibden, so you may see survey teams carrying out their work in the vicinity of the road at any time of day. This includes topographical surveys, ground investigation surveys, arboriculture(tree) surveys and ecology surveys (including those for protected species such as badgers and bats, which will be undertaken at night). From time to time this work may require localised traffic management to be in place to enable the survey teams to carry out their work safely.

Scheme Information and Programme

Following ratification of a preferred option for further development via a report to the Executive Lead Member for Economy, Transport and Environment (ELMETE) Decision Day on 18 November 2021 and subsequent approval of the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for the scheme by the  the DfT in March 2022, the scheme involves improvements to two main sections as follows:

  • North section: Provision of junction improvements, new crossing facilities and a new dual carriageway between Michigan Way and Cocklydown Lane in west Totton.
  • South section: Provision of an additional lane in a southbound direction only between the A326 merge south of Hounsdown and the junction with Staplewood Lane, plus improvements to the junctions with Staplewood Lane, Twiggs Lane and Main Road, and improved cycle facilities between Main Road and Marchwood.

Alongside developing the scheme design the County Council has undertaken a comprehensive suite of environmental and topographical surveys along the route, in order to both provide an accurate baseline of the existing conditions in the area to inform the design, and also to inform the preparation of a full Environmental Impact Assessment that will be submitted as part of a future planning application.

The Planning Application would be submitted to both Hampshire County Council Strategic Planning as a Regulation 3 application and New Forest National Park Authority, given the potential impact of the scheme on the New Forest National Park.

It should be noted that the DfT approval to the SOBC was conditional on the County Council developing and assessing as part of the OBC a lower cost alternative option alongside the preferred option. Note though that it is the intention to submit a Planning Application for the preferred option only, with the OBC providing details of the alternative option.

Background and Objectives
The concept of improvements to the A326 was first introduced in 2017 as part of the Waterside Transport Study, which culminated in the Waterside Interim Policy Position and specifically that the A326 to M27 Junction 2 is the preferred route to the strategic road network from the Waterside and will need to be improved to accommodate future growth.

In summer 2019 a pre-SOBC for improvements to the A326 in the Waterside was submitted to Transport for the South East (TfSE) for funding from the DfT’s Large Local Majors programme, which is part of the Major Road Network fund. The scheme was one of three schemes across the South-East prioritised by TfSE and submitted to the Government, and in March 2020 the County Council was invited to submit an SOBC. The SOBC was submitted in July 2021 and included an appraisal of the same three scheme options that were presented as part of the summer 2021 public consultation.

The scheme aims to address existing traffic congestion on the A326 and provide additional vehicular capacity to accommodate future growth associated with a number of important existing and planned development sites on the Waterside. The scheme is located in a highly sensitive environment, as the A326 runs directly between the eastern boundary of the New Forest National Park and several settlements in the Waterside adjacent to Southampton Water. Given this, there is also a need to reduce the severance posed by the road and ensure that the scheme is developed in an environmentally sensitive manner. By providing additional capacity on the A326 this should help to reduce  traffic seeking to use alternative routes, such as through the National Park or residential areas. Further to recent legislation there is also a requirement for the scheme to provide a 10% uplift in biodiversity overall, which is likely to require a substantial amount of environmental enhancement works.

Given the above, the following strategic objectives have been identified for the scheme:
  1. Enhance accessibility for all users of the transport network, including non-motorised users;
  2. Address congestion issues along the corridor;
  3. Facilitate economic development along the corridor;
  4. Minimise the impact on the New Forest;
  5. Complement other investment in the area to deliver wider benefits for local communities, businesses, and visitors.
2021 Public Consultation Documents

The documents presented as part of the summer 2021 public consultation can still be viewed here and the results of the consultation are provided in this Research Report and outlined in both the November 2021 ELMETE and November 2022 ELMTES reports that are noted above.

Please see the A326 Waterside Improvements, Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) documents which provides a full assessment of the three options that were presented in the 2021 public consultation;

Roadworks and Travel Advice

Visit One.Network which is where the planned works are published and is an independent platform that allows real-time monitoring of all the UK’s roadworks and diversions.

 

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