Whitehill Bordon rail link concerns

Whereas I respect Sir Peter Hall's experience and knowledge of new towns, I think that he has let his enthusiasm run away with him with regard to his comments in issue 1946 re the eco-town at Whitehill Bordon.

Although integrating land use and transport planning has never been central to British planning, the garden city movement did see fit to continue the tradition of London's garden suburbs in the design of Letchworth and Welwyn which had their centres focused around a railway station on the main line to London.

Subsequently all of London's post-war new towns also were built on railway lines to London and, eventually, all had a station. Such connectivity was always part of the vision of the 'social city' and has served the new towns well, as the goal of 'self-containment' has been out of step with historic trends.
From a north of England perspective, Whitehill Bordon could never be seen as isolated and I would be very suprised if it didn't come to have a significant number of car using commuters. The fact that, unlike all the other London new towns, it is not on a railway and cannot be developed around a station doesn't offer much of an alternative.

Although there are stations about 5 miles away on main lines to London (and other employment centres such as Woking, Basingstoke and Southampton), once people get in their cars they tend to use them for the whole of their journey if congestion levels permit this.

The fact that location on a railway was not a pre-requisite for the eco-towns was a major oversight at the time the programme was created to give a greenwash to Gordon Brown's elevation to the premiership and, given Sir Peter's track record in promoting rail accessible development, I would have thought that his enthusiasm for Whitehill Bordon would have been more restrained.

In the circumstances perhaps the best we can hope for is car sharing and expanding the park and ride facilities at the nearest stations, as few commuters will rely on bus links to get them to the station reliably. Personally I wouldn't celebrate this as 'a wonderful start for a second life' for the garden cities.
Russ Haywood
Macclesfield (4 minutes walk from the station)

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