There is no quick fix for the growing list of problems for a major new development in the Winchester district where more than 3,000 new homes are being built.

A Winchester City Council forum heard from the developer and implementation officer for North Whiteley with an update regarding the bus service and Whiteley Way roadworks, plus discussing ideas about how the forum moves forward.

It also heard about uncertain speed limits, road signage, bus services, play parks not being ready and a secondary school not being built, with residents voicing their frustrations.

Building work for the major development, north of Whiteley and Near Wickham, is still being carried out but once complete, it will be made up of around 3,500 homes, two primary schools, a secondary school, retail and community centre and significant highway improvements.

Some 3,102 homes (87 per cent of the expected total) have currently been granted planning permission and 1,983 have been started said Jeff Davies, a consultant on the scheme. The council previously said a total of 906 of those already built are now being lived in and the extension to Bluebell Way is complete and opened to through traffic to the Botley Road.

Whiteley Way and Curdridge Way are currently being built and will link Whiteley town with Botley Road to the North.

Philip Gibbs, a nine-month resident in North Whiteley, asked when the roads would be adopted and wanted clarity on what speed he should be travelling and when the road signs would arrive.

He said the roads in Whiteley need to be adopted by Hampshire County Council so that rules like traffic speeds can be monitored and enforced.

Jeff Davies responded that while roads still have construction traffic travelling on them the roads cannot be adopted nor will proper traffic signs be put up.

Currently, there are a number of signs 10mph, 20mph and 30mph. He said they would like everyone to travel 20mph and all other signs will be removed or covered up.

There was also a request for sign posting for things like Tesco was put forward as residents are getting lost.

Due to the lack of double yellow lines, the forum heard cars are being parked on corners where they shouldn’t be. The developer was keen to point out that as part of their covenant residents agreed not to park on and off pavements.

The forum heard that the bus service is out to tender with an invitation for new ideas of how to make it work better so that more people will use it. Suggestions included changing the timings to include the school timetable and linking it up the bus service to go wider afield.

Once the bus routes were known, then bus shelters were requested to be erected. As this is tied in with the response on the new tenders, no timeline could be given.  Each shelter costs in the region of £35,000 per shelter so until the bus route is decided then the shelters will be considered.

Mr Davies said the ‘legal stuff’ over the transfer of land ownership is taking too long but that the play parks will open. They will be inspected and run under insurance until the exchange of land ownership can go through.

Cllr Sudhakar Achwal (Lib Dem, Whiteley and Shedfield) asked about the installation of post boxes. There are currently none, but two will be coming and their positioning is being discussed. One is at the top of Whiteley Way the other area is Bluebell Way End.

The first primary school on site was built and opened in 2021, but the secondary school has yet to gain planning permission.

It was reported that Hampshire County Council is very closely monitoring the occupancy of Whiteley to decide when something needs to be done. 

The plan is for it to open in 2027.

Cllr Hugh Lumby (Con, Hampshire County Council) reported that the building of a special needs school had been agreed.

City council leader Martin Tod (Lib Dems, St Paul) said he wanted more Whiteley residents to be involved and asked which stakeholders need to be involved as the development moves forward now.

He said there are 1,400 homes, about 3,000 to 4,000, people who live in the developments that need a say and invited opinions on who should be involved and in what format the forum should continue, face to face or online.

The councillors were concerned that all those who were impacted by what was going on should have a voice on the forum moving forward.

Cllr Derek Pretty (Lib Dems, Eastleigh Borough Council) said he was concerned about the impact of Whiteley traffic going through Botley, Fairoak and Hedge End and a voice for Eastleigh district is needed to represent the local boroughs that are impacted by Whiteley. 

Cllr Achwal said: "We are not halfway there and it’s too premature for the forum membership to change. I would like it to continue for another six to eight months in the same way.”

Cllr Eric Bodger (Curdridge Parish Council) said: “A single representative from Curdridge is sufficient but it’s completely surrounded. He wanted to see continued participation from at least one Winchester officer because the help received has been superb and wouldn’t like to see that go.”

Cllr Lumby said it was a pressing necessity to have a Whiteley forum of the communities that straddle the borders.

Representatives from various councils sit on the forum, including Winchester City, Hampshire County, Fareham and Eastleigh boroughs and parish councils for Whiteley, Curdridge and Botley.

The meetings are held in public, virtually and if the public wants to raise an issue or be involved they can. It also looks at how the work is progressing and supports the new community.

Currently serving from Winchester City Council are: Chairperson, Vivian Achwal and Sudhakar Achwal, Chris Chamberlain, Ann Small, Frank Pearson, and Malcolm Wallace.  From Hampshire County Council are Seán Woodward and Hugh Lumby with Joanne Burton from Fareham Borough Council, Derek Pretty from Eastleigh Borough Council, Mike Evans from Whiteley Town Council, Chris Cooper from Botley Parish Council and Eric Bodger from Curdridge Parish Council.