Revamped A32 M27 junction for Welborne in doubt over funding

The huge revamp of an M27 junction to serve a new Hampshire town is in doubt after a council rang alarm bells over the project’s funding.

A report has revealed that Hampshire County Council is “extremely unlikely” to meet the cost of the new junction 10 for Welborne unless further support is given from stakeholders.

A letter is set to be sent to stakeholders outlining the need for extra funding so Hampshire County Council can carry the project on to the building stage. If extra funding is needed and it isn’t provided, the project would be dropped.

As part of the new town of Welborne that is set to be built on fields north of the M27, beside the A32 between Fareham and Wickham, junction 10 on the M27 will be extended to an ‘all ways’ junction because the current layout only allows drivers to join the M27 eastbound – towards Portsmouth – and leave it westbound.

The upgrade involves a new motorway underpass west of the existing junction, three new slip roads to facilitate an ‘all moves’ arrangement, and a new dual carriageway to link the new slip roads to the existing road network which will help serve the new town with 6,000 homes.

Government bodies are funding the significant and complex civil engineering project, including Homes England and The Welborne Development.

Hampshire County Council is the delivery body for the Junction 10 project though and a report to cabinet next week shows contractor Volker Fitzpatrick is expecting design and approvals by National Highways in 2024.

However, before proceeding to the construction phase, the council must ensure that “the funding available is sufficient to cover the forecast costs”.

The report read: “The county council has been working with stakeholders to bring this proposal to fruition and since 2021 has been acting in the role of delivery body for the M27 Junction 10 improvement. The design and approvals stage for this project is nearing completion, and the forecast construction costs are expected to become known early in 2024.

“Before proceeding into the construction phase, the county council needs to be assured that the funding available is sufficient to cover the forecast costs and risks before committing to continue in the role of delivery body.”

Following the approval by National Highways, the county council will be able to start the end of “stage cost review” and, if necessary, look to secure additional funding from stakeholders or the Government before formally deciding whether to proceed into the construction phase, and subsequently award “stage two” of the construction contract, or to withdraw from the project.

In this aspect, the report said: “It is extremely unlikely that the project funding currently in place will be sufficient to create the necessary level of headroom within the project to allow the county council to proceed as delivery body and, as with the original approval, will be seeking further funding from the different stakeholders to achieve this.

It is recommended that the county council writes to stakeholders, including Homes England, Welborne Land Limited, Fareham Borough Council, Department for Levelling Up Homes and Communities (DLUHC), National Highways and the Department for Transport (DfT) stating the additional funding required by the county council to continue as a delivery body into the construction phase.

The report said: “Should sufficient funds not be secured in the required timescale, meaning that the county council is unable to continue as delivery body for the Junction 10 project, that a further report is presented to cabinet, recommending that the county council formally withdraw from the project.”

If, on the contrary, funds get sought, and final approval is received along with a letter giving the county council authority to execute the works on the strategic road network, the council’s director of corporate operations will undertake the end-of-stage cost review and agree that the county council should proceed into the construction phase as the delivery body.

Once finished, the Welborne development will include 6,000 homes, schools, shops, green spaces, business and healthcare facilities.

Photo: Fareham Borough Council