Communication and collaboration are key to the progress of Winchester electricity upgrade
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) £1.4m project to improve supplies in and around the centre of Winchester is progressing well, and key to this success has been regular customer communication and ongoing collaboration with Hampshire Highways.
Over 1.9km of new underground cable is being installed in the historic city centre and, when the project is completed this summer, the network will be more robust, resilient and less susceptible to power cuts.
Preparation and preliminary work took place between October and December, with the first phase of cable installation starting in mid-January; the new cable will follow a route around the Jewry Street part of the city centre, and with such a historically beautiful architectural layout, there has been extra attention to detail required to ensure its character and ambience are not disturbed.
SSEN’s Project Manager, Duncan Fowler, said that his teams aim to complete their essential work in as unobtrusive a fashion as possible, and cause the minimum amount of disruption to the local business community. “Winchester is a beautiful city, and part of its charm is its carefully preserved architecture and traffic infrastructure; however, these natural charms can also prove very challenging when you begin planning the installation of nearly 2km of underground electricity cables. The narrow streets and pavements required extra caution even when our project was at the design stage, and now that we are working in earnest we are being very careful to not block essential access and maintain an acceptable flow of traffic.”
Examples of how SSEN has been working with the local community include:
- Shortening the length of its excavation trenches to avoid traffic build-ups; normally a trench is between 150-200m, but on the Winchester project the trenches are approximately 50m.
- Carrying out work on key pinch points at night and over the weekend to reduce the risk of creating delays to traffic which is essential to the thriving city centre trade.
SSEN has also been liaising with Hampshire Highways throughout the project to ensure that, where possible, repeat excavations and traffic diversions can be avoided; an example of this is in Southgate Street, where SSEN was due to be working as part of a later phase of the project, but as Hampshire County Council was also installing new traffic lights there, SSEN has re-scheduled their cable work there so that everything can be done at the same time.
Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “I’m pleased to see that this work is going well, and I understand that residents and businesses have been kept informed of the works. It is also good to see such successful coordination and cooperation which has meant that both the SSEN scheme and Hampshire County Council traffic signal improvement works can be done at the same time, resulting in less disruption for the travelling public.”