IMPORTANT UPDATE

The meeting venue has now been changed to the Forest Suite inside the Ringwood Gateway.

One of the main topics of conversation in Ringwood is Highways England proposals for improvements to the A31.

The proposals also include closing the West Street exit onto the A31.

Town Councillors have reached provisional views on the proposals as set out below.

However, before finalising their views Town Councillors want to hear from local residents and are holding an open air public forum at 7.00pm on 26th July in Ringwood Gateway Square.

Residents are encouraged to attend to give councillors their views.

Town Mayor, Cllr Tim Ward, says “Councillors represent local people and really want to hear their views before making any final decisions on a project which will have a major impact on the town.”

He therefore encourages as many people to attend as possible.

Immediately after the public forum councillors will convene for their formal Council meeting when they will reconsider their initial views in the light of comments made and will then agree their final submission to Highways England.

The current views of councillors are that the Town Council:

  1. approves of the A31 Improvement Scheme, to widen the westbound carriageway to 3 lanes, in order to reduce congestion for users of the A31, reduce congestion for local people, improve journey times and reduce pollution;
  2. supports the proposed closure of West Street on safety grounds, with a caveat that there needs to be emergency access onto the A31 from the Market Place, with the operation of a barrier/smart card system;
  3. proposes that the slip road at the petrol station be extended the full length to the Verwood turnoff and investigations be made into alternative solutions for entry/exit to the petrol station, possibly from the Verwood road;
  4. requires that there be a robust implementation plan in place to minimise the impact on residents during the construction period, due to the effects of contraflows, overnight closures and diversion routes for its expected 18 months duration;
  5. requires that specific noise abatement measures be implemented for residents along the route and for the Parish Church;
  6. requires an assurance that traffic re-modelling takes into account the new Local Plan and future projections for traffic with the possible development of Sites P, Q and R, including volume of traffic at peak times;
  7. requires that the re-modelling statistics be made available to the Town Council's own traffic consultants; and
  8. requires Town Centre access improvements for pedestrians and cyclists and believes that it is the duty of Highways England to provide this. Ringwood is unique in that it has a trunk road through the town and improvements are needed to compensate for this and to help the community to prosper. In this respect, it would be necessary to work with Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council.