The session on the 4th February was devoted to strategic gaps and park-and-ride at Stoneham. Test Valley District Council objected to the removal of the gap designation at Stoneham and the bus depot, but did not object to park-and-ride which they considered compatible with being a strategic gap. In response, Mr Cooke for the City Council said that Planning Guidance required that a strategic gap should be no larger than needed to prevent coalescence and the land south of the motorway was not needed for this. The inspector suggested that the motorway itself formed a strong physical and visual barrier.

Mr Wirgman for the Southampton Federation of Residents’ Associations queried the traffic and environmental implications of park-and-ride. Mr Marshall for the City Council said they had looked at this in detail for the stadium but not yet for  park-and-ride. They believed 600 park-and-ride spaces were needed to be viable and were in principle satisfied that a right turn on Stoneham Way would work.

During the hearing with BTC (Southampton) Sports and Social Club, Mr Cooke for the City Council said that the article in the Daily Echo  had been very misleading. It was not true that they were looking at that site for gypsy travellers.

The last hearing of the day was with Mr Shephard of the Stoneham Association who objected to erosion of the strategic gap, increased traffic, noise and light pollution and  loss of playing fields. There was also flood risk and drainage problems. Shouldn’t an environmental assessment have been undertaken before it was put in the plan? Mr Marshall said an assessment would be made before their plan was implemented. He also said that in his opinion, this site was better for park-and-ride than the one preferred by the consultants, near the airport station, because that would be swamped by rail commuters.

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