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Proposal to replace Butts bridge at the MHR

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by Swan Age, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. Swan Age

    Swan Age Active Member

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    Copied from the MHR Facebook page:

    Following three years of negotiations with developers, the Mid Hants Railway Ltd fully supports the approved plans to replace the double track Butts Bridge over Whitedown Lane in Alton.

    This announcement seems to have stirred up a wave of hostility towards the MHR from some of the good residents of Alton.


    Let's hope there are equally a few supporters of the scheme as well, but so far it seems to have been met with disgust towards the railway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  2. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Why the hostility?
     
  3. Swan Age

    Swan Age Active Member

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    AFAIK the local residents seem to think the MHR have held the developers to ransom to the tune of £8 million and have now dropped their opposition to the proposed plans.

    There are a fair few keyboard warriors posting their opposition in the Facebook comments section!
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  4. david1984

    david1984 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Could use a bit more info, as an outsider I'm struggling to see why a bridge replacement is relevant to developers and why locals seem to be taking a developers side (something NIMBY's rarely do).
     
  5. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    The website has this statement:

    "
    The Long running saga of the Butts Bridge over Whitedown Lane, Alton was finally resolved at an EHDC Planning meeting last night when the scheme to demolish the brick arch section and widen with a new steel girder bridge was approved.
    The MHR Ltd has been in negotiation with the two groups of landowners on the old Treloars Hospital and Borovere farm site for over 3 years and is fully supportive of this scheme; and has reached, with the aid of professional advisors, a deal which is of significant financial benefit to the Railway.
    The funds generated will facilitate substantial Capital investment in the Railway’s infrastructure over the next few years. Temporary disruption to the operations of MHR services between Alton and Medstead will be minimal and negotiations have included proper provision for this. "

    Alton residents, like people in many towns throughout the South East feel under heavy pressure from developers. The government has set considerable targets for new housing, and rightly so as people need to live somewhere and house prices are at least partly a result of the laws of supply and demand. Quite understandably though the people who have live with the results of the target setting day in day out, and accommodate the change to their town often find it very hard particularly when an area has already seen a huge amount of change.

    Butts Bridge is actually two bridges side by side. The first (travelling in the down direction toward Alresford) is Butts Road and is a plate girder bridge. The second bridge is Whitedown Lane, but together they are generally known as Butts Bridge. Whitedown Lane bridge is a narrow brick arch bridge, and is quite attractive. It is unfortunately only one and a half lanes wide. This means that lorries or large vans cant pass each other under it, and as there is a road junction immediately on side of the bridge that happens almost constantly. The result is a lot of slow traffic on that junction. Hampshire County Council have long wanted to widen the Whitedown Lane bridge, and had an objection to more housing in Alton until that was resolved. The local planning authority (East Hants District Council) have of course to fulfil their obligation to build more homes in their district, part of which is very difficult to develop because it lies within the South Downs National Park. This fact places greater pressure on Alton because it is not in the Park, and just to compound the feelings, EHDC offices are in Petersfield which as you can probably guess is within the Park. Various developers want to build homes in Alton, which is a desirable and attractive town even after developments of recent years, and benefits of course from the mainline connection to London.

    The railway is in a sense in no real position to prevent or promote land development, and the negotiations have been about ensuring that the railway's position was protected first and foremost. After all someone wants to knock one of our bridges down. It is quite normal for land or infrastructure owners to be compensated by developers in such situations as this, and for that compensation to be related to the increased value that the developer will create in their land. The compensation will provide security and investment in the railway.
     
  6. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Thanks for posting that.
     
  7. Hampshire Unit

    Hampshire Unit Active Member

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    Just to add a little to 21B's post, the current bridge at Butt's Junction is subject to not infrequent lorry strikes, I remember one such not too long ago on a Saturday evening, with a RAT train marooned at Alton and the Watercress Belle at Alresford or Ropley, I can't remember which.

    On a slight tangent, Alresford is also facing considerable proposals for development, with a government imposed tally of 500 new houses, enshrined in the Winchester Local Development Plan. The footpath from Sun Lane bridge above Alresford station to the old A31 bridge at Bishop's Sutton currently runs past several fields. The first of them will likely be turned into a housing estate and cemetery. I must declare an interest as I live in Nursery Road, which will be the only access from Alresford (and possibly Alton) for a development of 320 houses, and is likely to be subject to a very large increase in traffic.
     
  8. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    There's a fair bit of venom towards the MHR on their fb page. It seems to me it's the Council they should be blaming.
     
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  9. Hampshire Unit

    Hampshire Unit Active Member

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    Trouble is, council hands are somewhat tied. They are caught between a rock and a hard place, as, as I understand it, Government quotas for new housing have been determined, and the councls have to try to fnd the "least worst" solutions, and trying to rely on developers to build the additional infrastructure necessary to support the new dwellings. In addition, the rules on percentages of affordable housing in new developments have recently been relaxed, so there are likely to be less of these as a proportion of the new houses. Again, I have to declare an interest as I still have a 2 year old son living at home, as he tries to raise the deposit necessary for a local home in the Alton or Alresford area
     
  10. 8126

    8126 Member

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    For those unfamiliar with the area, the bridge is here:

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51°08'26.1"N 0°59'02.3"W/@51.1430066,-0.981801,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0
    and streetview
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.1...ata=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sqU5jQiB6GqojEuGkfxNReQ!2e0

    The A339 goes under Whitedown Lane bridge, and is pretty much the only north-south route past the town, with Basingstoke and the M3 to the north, Petersfield and Portsmouth to the south, hence the traffic issues. Butts Road is the main route into town for traffic coming off the A31 from the west, as well.

    Arguably it's been a problem for years, and if it was happening in complete isolation the residents of Alton would probably be saying: "At last, they're sorting out that bloody junction!"
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
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  11. Wenlock

    Wenlock Active Member Friend

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    If your son is only 2, then he's got plenty of time to save for a deposit.
     
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  12. Hampshire Unit

    Hampshire Unit Active Member

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    Obviously a typo after a long day at work. He is 24
     
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  13. Corbs

    Corbs Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be a bit of 'the £8m could be better spent on things like public services', but isn't the money coming from the developers and not the council?
     
  14. 21B

    21B Well-Known Member

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    Yes of course. Ultimately the money comes from the sale of the houses that will be built.
     
  15. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Part of the furniture

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    I can't see anything on the MHR FB page, unless I've been looking at the wrong one?
     
  16. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    As someone who was worked extensively in local politics, when housing developments are being talked about people lose all sense of reason and logic, become hate fueled rage beasts and blame absolutely anyone or anything.

    Is the plan for the Whitedown Lane bridge to look identical to the Butts Road bridge?
     
  17. 61624

    61624 Part of the furniture

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    £8M should go a long way on a railway that seems to have relatively little in the way of infrastructure. I bet the SVR wish they could do a similar deal! Their infrastructure liabilities are horrendous!
     
  18. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres

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    so when are you starting to dig out the head shunt at Alresford and build that carrage shed?
     
  19. Reading General

    Reading General Part of the furniture

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    Does the 8 million include the costs of the bridge ?
     
  20. ghost

    ghost Well-Known Member

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    I think the figure of £8m is for the total project - ie, rebuilding the bridge, building houses, road improvements, payments to the MHR and other landowners and probably the purchase price of the housing site.

    The MHR will get a tiny portion of that figure!


    Keith
     
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