Given the length of the document, it has taken me a few weeks to work through this.
I have focused on the elements relating to Eastleigh Central as I am standing in this ward.
E1 - Land at the Civic Offices and former Magistrates’ Court, Leigh Road, Eastleigh
“The site could prove attractive for other commercial and employment uses which
take advantage of the site’s prominent roadside location as well as educational
uses, emergency and health services and training and meeting facilities” (p.184).
I note that planning permission has already been granted for a car dealership on the site of the old Magistrates’ Court.
My view: space permitting, I would like to see the construction of a purpose built police station here. It would seem to be a very good site for it, given the access routes and close promixity to the Hampshire Fire and Police HQ. I personally do not feel that the current operation from a business centre off Shakespeare Road cuts it from a public profile perspective. Plus, Eastleigh and the surrounding areas are built up enough to be served by its own station, rather than having to wait from an arrival from elsewhere. Of course, this would not solely be the Council’s decision - support from the new Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner would probably also be required to try and make this happen.
E2 - Land at Woodside Avenue, Eastleigh
Looking at the map, I believe the development cited here has already gone ahead.
E3 - Eastleigh Town Centre
(1)(a) Looking at the map, this is the area that is currently predominantly occupied by Leo Leisure and Sainsbury’s. The retail units adjoining Sainsbury’s in the bus station walkway often change hands. I don’t think these units are particularly attractive to business people as they are hidden away and the surroundings are not very pleasant (bird mess is bit of an issue here too). I think at least one of the units is vacant at present. The toilets here are not great either. Convert into a bus station waiting room with a newsstand/hot drinks counter and nicer toilet facilities? I often see elderly people here so maybe this would be a more pleasant place to wait for them?
(1)(b) Redevelopment of the block east of Upper Market Street. In favour of this. This is a very dated building and is one of the first things a visitor to the town sees. In my view, this building should be demolished and more modern premises similar to those occupied by Eastleigh Borough Council should be built here. I think this is what the plan is advocating. My only question would be - will the demand for office space for professional services be that great post COVID-19? Not sure. This could be an ideal site for a museum of Eastleigh’s railway and aviation history with some overhead accomodation and cafes.
Swan Centre Lots of retail outlets have given up their premises in light of COVID-19 (most notably, Argos) and I feel that the Swan Centre could struggle to stay relevant if the trend towards online purchasing is sustained after we come out of lockdown restrictions. I used to live in Bristol and remember when the Galleries shopping centre was opened to great fanfare, only for it to suffer greatly as purchasing habits changed. I personally feel that the future of shopping centres will be determined by whether they are places that people want to spend time. Accordingly, I think the focus should be on trying to attract mixed purpose stores, similar to those you see in Winchester’s shopping centre, e.g. Waterstones has a cafe inside it I think.
With regards to the leisure zone, it will be interesting to see what happens to Vue. Again, has the pandemic switched people off big cinema chains for good? If it has and Vue does not reopen, the town centre is suddenly going to have a lot of space. Given the shape of the building inside it is difficult to imagine what else this site could be used for. The Council will probably need to conduct a focus group or survey to take soundings on this.
Primary and seconary shopping zone Again, several outlets have been vacated owing to the pandemic. The commitment to maintaining 70% of frontage for retail use in the primary zone may be difficult to meet. The central streets already have a number of cafes. Some additional restaurant usage could work here - Eastleigh town centre is notably missing a Thai restaurant which I think would do quite well. If pedestrianisation is going to be retained, cafe/restaurants that offer pleasant outside seating in good weather could be a draw too.
E4 - Urban Renaissance Quarter
(1) Think maintaining this area for small offices make sense given the situation/close proximity to residential areas. However, I think a lot of these offices (which are in the main, old houses), look a bit tired. Could a commitment be secured from occupiers to maintain frontage?
(3) This development is already underway. It will be interesting to see if there are any takers for the commercial space given the close proximity to the town centre and M&S. Offices, e.g. for a solicitors’ firm or something could work and wouldn’t disturb local residents.
(4) Is a nice idea, but I do wonder if more use could be made of the Point. It is a nice building inside, but I personally don’t feel it is used for enough events and it is often quiet during the day. The decked area near the park could be used by the Point for more permanent outdoor seating/high quality bar overlooking the park. They have put on a temporary summer bar which I think is quite popular, but a more permanent covering with outdoor heating could do well all year round.
E5 - Public realm improvements in and adjoining Eastleigh town centre
Agree. In particular, there are several points on Leigh Road adjacent to the A335 that become pretty flooded during heavy downpours, making it pretty unpleasant to walk from Archers Road to the traffic crossing to the Recreation Ground. This has needed improvement for a while now. The biggest question is probably whether to permanently pedestrianise the town centre or not. If this decision is taken, more free parking hours in adjoining car parks should probably be offered, particularly for residents who are elderly or have blue badges.
Policy E6, Eastleigh River Side
The possible development of student accomodation has been mentioned here, but I don’t think this would work because it is a little removed from the town centre. Students from where too?
Hotel / conference centre usuage could work if the airport recovers, particularly in light of the runaway extension. I think this, combined with a innovation centre would be the best bet in this area - especially if the freeport takes off.
I think the proposed new Bishopstoke Rd/Wide Lane traffic route makes sense as this would divert traffic away from Eastleigh town centre and most of its residential areas (particularly given the concerns about air quality).
Policy E7, Development opportunities adjoining Eastleigh River Side
Other than the through road aleady mentioned in E6, I am not convinced that the development of this greenfield site is necessary. I think industrial land that is already underused should be re-used first.
Would prefer to see a high quality pedestrian / cycle access route from Campbell Road to the Itchen River pathway. Walked down the Itchen River a while ago from Bishopstoke Road and I don’t think this exists at present.
Policy E8, Junction improvements, Eastleigh
Support these. I think this junction is pretty dangerous at present, and at certain times, pretty chaotic. I think the installation of a pedestrian/cycle bridge near the Twyford Road crossing of the Chandler’s Ford branch line is a good idea as it is very narrow at present and one often has to walk on the road.
I also think the Archers Road/Beaulieu Road footbridge needs modernising and securing: it is a very dated structure. People regularly throw rubbish off it and there have been several unpleasant incidents there. Although it is an important route for school children and others crossing from North to Central Eastleigh and vice-versa, the anti-social behaviour here is a nuisance to local residents. I wonder whether a new bridge could be constructed between DM25 and DM15 that is well lit, spacious (with lift access for wheelchairs and bikes) and is a little way from residential properties so as to eliminate the nuisance.
These are my thoughts on it.
Reform UK candidate for Eastleigh North (Hampshire County Council) and Eastleigh Central (Eastleigh Borough Council)