Council misleading over Wessex Fields scheme

18 June 2017

Protestors have said they feel “misled by Bournemouth council” during a protest near Wessex Fields On Tuesday 6th June.

Alasdair Keddie, the Green Party candidate for Bournemouth East in the recent General Election, was among the South East Dorset Green Party members present at the meeting, and said “We will continue to campaign against this scheme.” Candidates from other political parties were also present, as well as ward Councillor John Adams.

Bournemouth Echo reported the meeting under the heading “'Council have misled us over Wessex Fields scheme by keeping business park plans deliberately hidden” and the full report, with pictures, can be seen here.

The site has been earmarked for housing and commercial development as part of the £45 million Bournemouth International Growth (BIG) Programme, overseen by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

But residents claim the plans for the business park have been “deliberately hidden” behind plans for a hospital link road.

The link road will connect with Deansleigh Road and Castle Lane East, and is intended to relieve some of the traffic congestion at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

But Conor O’Luby, of campaign group Friends of Riverside, said: “The highly misleading impression is that the scheme is primarily about alleviating congestion outside the hospital in Castle Lane East.

“However, the scheme is proposed to serve an office development in Wessex Fields that will generate large amounts of extra traffic.

“The council’s own business case predicts more than 1,000 extra vehicles will be generated in the morning rush hour.

“But the council says it is promising an extra 2,500 jobs - so where are the other vehicles going to go?

“The numbers here just don’t seem to add up. This scheme will only add to congestion around the area not alleviate it.”

But Bournemouth council said they have been “absolutely clear” about the aims of the project from the start.

Ian Kalra, head of transportation services, said: “We have been absolutely clear from the outset of this project that the scheme will involve creating a new link directly from the A338 to connect with the Wessex Fields business park, enabling local people to access employment opportunities at Wessex Fields, and providing a second route into the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

“A number of public engagement events have taken place to fully explain the proposals.

“It’s important to add that the funding secured for this project was based on the proposals to improve infrastructure in the area to enable the growth of businesses and the local economy.”

The proposals will be considered by the Planning Board in July.

UPDATES:  A protest demonstration was held at a Stakeholders meeting.  This was arranged by Conor O'Luby and attended by residents, and members of SEDGP and Friends of the Earth.  It was reported in the Bournemouth Echo on 5th July, here, and the Council's reply was reported the following day and can be read here.

A further protest was held outside Bournemouth Town Hall on Wednesday 20th September and was attended by Friends of Riverside, East Dorset Friends of the Earth and local Green Party members.  It was reported in the Bournemouth Echo and can be read here.