Blackwater-Farnborough route shut by roadworksBy Laura Nightingale
February 26, 2013
ANXIETY is mounting following the announcement of plans to close off a main route from Blackwater to Farnborough to allow South East Water to carry out works for nine months.
After the ‘Reading Road saga’ last year, when the utility company encountered faults during its water mains operation in Yateley, people are fearful of a repeat performance.
South East Water wants to install a 1.6km water pipe along Fernhill Road in Blackwater to improve services to the area and hopes to start construction next month.
However, parents are concerned about how they will get their children to school as Hawley Place School lies on the road that will close, plus commuters are upset about potential difficulties getting to Rushmoor, as Fernhill Road is the main route to Cove.
The latest news comes after South East Water took 14 months to install a new water main along a 1.4km stretch of Reading Road. Initially it was said the project would be completed by last April, however small leaks were found during final tests which delayed the completion until September.
Blackwater commuter and county and town councillor, Adrian Collett, said: “If you think of Yateley, there is very little industry and employment so everyone has to travel out of the area. There is no train station so most people travel east towards Farnborough, Fleet and Camberley.
“Residents are worried about getting their kids to school, how they will get in and out of the town and the added pressure on Hawley Road as a result of the closure.
“We hope it gets completed the first time round. It seems as one project finishes in our area the next one starts.”
The other main roads that could be affected in Blackwater are Cricket Hill, Rosemary Lane and Reading Road. Cllr Collett said if one of these is closed, it causes ‘absolute chaos’ and ‘misery’ to motorists.
“Everybody understands work needs to be carried out by South East Water but they need people in there to do the job quickly and properly,” he said.
Hawley Road fully re-opened only this month after it was partially closed at weekends for more than a year to allow structural works to be carried out to strengthen the M3 motorway bridge.
South East Water said the Fernhill Road scheme was needed to reinforce the existing water mains to overcome friction problems in the pipes, improve levels of service at peak demand and to improve overall transfer capability.
Blackwater resident, Jeffrey Smith, said: “There will have to be a permanent diversion route. By the look of the phasing plan, Blackwater is going to suffer for at least six or seven months. The roads are already crowded and the diversion routes are going to put even more pressure on them.”
Mr Smith said he was seeking more information on pedestrian access from South East Water.
“Fernhill Road sees a lot of pedestrian traffic and if you are a passenger you are going to have to go a long way round when the road closure is in place. The same goes for motorists. It’s going to cause problems,” he said.
However, bus passengers will not be affected as the area’s main bus route runs along Hawley Lane.
As part of South East Water’s project to install the pipeline, the company asked Hart District Council for an environmental impact assessment in order to carry out the works. However, the council decided on Monday, February 4 that the proposal did not need this particular assessment.
A spokesman for Hart District Council said: “While, at 1.6km the whole scheme is quite extensive, it is a stand-alone project and will not particularly utilise natural resources, there will be very small amounts of waste created and, not in operation, create pollution or nuisances – there is no the risk of accidents once in operation.”
James Smith, delivery manager at South East Water, said: “We are aware that this is a busy road and consequently we are consulting with local representatives before we finalise our plans for carrying out the work.
"We want to listen to their feedback and concerns to make sure that we manage this essential project while limiting the impact that we have on the area.
“Once we have completed this initial consultation we will write to the local community and invite people to come and talk to us at a public exhibition, again to help inform how we deliver this important work and minimise disruption.”