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A new bypass for Melksham? And 2,000+ new homes are on the way

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A NEW bypass for the east of Melksham and around Beanace could be built, along with thousands of new houses.

Plans for the bypass, submitted by Wiltshire Council to the Department for Transport (DfT), have revealed that Melksham could be in line for a new bypass together with an additional 2,045 homes as part of the new Wiltshire Local Plan.

Wiltshire Council, as part of a group of local transport authorities in the South West, has submitted an application for funding to the DfT for the new A350 bypass – one of seven major road network schemes proposed by the group.

Two ‘indicative’ routes to the east of the town have been proposed. One shorter route ‘Option A’, costing an estimated £51.2million, would connect the A350 north of Beanacre with Eastern Way (where it meets with Sandridge Common); whilst the second longer route ‘Option C’, costing an estimated £135.8million, would connect the A350 north of Beanacre with the A350 Semington bypass, south of Bowerhill.

A third route, ‘Option B’, was considered, connecting the A350 north of Beanacre with Eastern Way near to the entrance of the football and rugby club, but this has not been taken forward.

You can view a map of the proposed routes on page 21.

The proposed scheme is in its infancy, but if successful, construction could start in March 2024 – and depending on which route is selected, completion of the bypass is estimated to be March 2026 for the shorter bypass, and June 2028 for the longer bypass.

The submission to the DfT explains that the bypass would bring relief to the communities in Beanacre and northern Melksham from noise and air pollution, and high traffic volumes. According to the report, there is an average daily vehicle flow of between 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles on the Melksham section of the A350. It also says that the current A350 through Melksham has ‘insufficient capacity’ to cope with current and projected future traffic volumes.

2,045 New houses 

Evidence used to support the bypass submission states that the bypass will help support housing growth along the whole of the A350 corridor in Wiltshire.

The bypass submission indicates that the ‘emerging’ Wiltshire Local Plan – which is expected to be confirmed next year – has earmarked Melksham for up to 2,045 new homes by 2036 – as part of the Chippenham Housing Market, which could have a target of up to 13,535 homes.

About the bypass plans, a Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “At the end of July we submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (made up of the original SOBC from Dec 2017 and an updated addendum) for a proposed A350 Melksham Bypass to the Department for Transport via the Western Gateway Sub-national Transport Body.

“Information on the STB’s submission including its Regional Evidence Base (REB) is available form here: www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/joint-ventures/western-gateway-sub-national-transport-body/

“Pages 181-184 in Part 3 of the REB includes outline information on the proposed A350 Melksham Bypass including a plan showing indicative routes – please note that as part of the SOBC, only Options A and C have been taken forward.

“In terms of a timeframe, this is very much dependent on if and when we hear on the success of the bid from the DfT. As part of the SOBC, however, we have provided a proposed timeline with the following key milestones:

• SOBC approval by DfT – Dec 19

• Outline Business Case submission to DfT / Submit planning application – Dec 21

• OBC approval by DfT / Planning decision – Mar 22

• Full Business Case submission to DfT – Sep 23

• FBC approval by DfT – Dec 23

• Start construction – Mar 24

• Complete construction – Option A=Mar 26 / Option C=Jun 28.”

8 Responses to A new bypass for Melksham? And 2,000+ new homes are on the way

  1. Michael Barnard

    August 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

    More and more houses, and yet still no mention of improved infrastructure! What about the hospital? St Damiens surgery is closing, there are no vacancies for registering at other surgeries in the town, yet there are more houses being built.

  2. Andy Butterworth

    August 15, 2019 at 8:44 am

    At what point of the discussions did Route A seem a viable option. The alleged 30,000 – 40,000 vehicles that pass through this daily would now be pushed through a far more densely populated area. I feel for the residents of Beanacre every time I drive the current road (daily commute along here) and fully agree a bypass is needed but let’s not move a problem from one area to another with the same, if not far more severe issues.

    At the end of Route A, there are 3 choices now: 1) left up the hill towards Bromham (won’t be used by the majority of the traffic that wishes to rejoin the A350), 2) turn right into the town centre or 3) straight on along Snowberry Lane which is FAR more densely populated than its current path. By the time this becomes a reality, there will also be another 450+ houses as the building has already started – show us a map with the proposed builds as that will highlight how ludicrous Route A actually is.

    Seems like the Good Ideas Club at Wiltshire Council are up to their usual tricks!!!

  3. Ryan

    August 15, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Has to be C – take a lot of the big vehicle traffic away from the town? Anything to reduce the traffic around McDonalds area would be great.

  4. Paul Winchcombe

    August 15, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Option C is the only option which can truly be called a bypass. Option A on diverts the traffic congestion to the East of Melksham joining a road through the new housing estates where 450+ new homes are currently being built. Option A diverts the traffic alongside the main footpath to the The Oak School as well. The map of course does not show the new roundabout going in between Snowberry Lane and the Beanacre roundabout. So with 3 roundabouts in approximately 250m of each other one can just imagine the congestion and tail backs along Snowberry Lane.

    In addition this proposal does not say where the 2,000+ new homes will be but one assumes that they are very likely to be in the vicinity of the Option A bypass.

    I recognise that Option A is cheaper and would be completed sooner, thus providing on paper earlier alleviation of the traffic issues on the A350 but in 10 years we will be asking for another bypass if Option A is chosen.

    We must all write to Michelle Donlan and ask her to support the only option which shows long term planning.

  5. Joe

    August 16, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    I can see how option C would be a valid option for many living in the recently developed estates that are of concern to the above affected by route A. However This route could be linked to the existing road which could quite easily be adapted to a dual road and linked with existing roundabouts that join the A350

    I can also logically see that option C will disrupt less people so is probably more valid in terms of disruption, however unfortunately will have devastating effect on those that live in the outer region of Bowerhill. Myself being one of them!

    If this route is considered, why not leave room for the residents, and instead of swinging in tight past Bowerhill re-join at the A361.

    #timetomove

  6. Sue

    August 16, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    More and more of our precious countryside is being lost to development and there is rarely a mention of loss of wildlife habitat. Humans are not the only beings on the planet and we must consider our wildlife as well.
    Once these places are lost to development they are gone forever!
    There once was an option in the district plan to have a western bypass which would destroy far less habitat and also cost considerably less.
    Option C cuts right through the heart of what little countryside we have left surrounding Melksham and is adjacent to the wildlife haven that is the Kennet and Avon canal – this route should not even be considered especially with today’s awareness of the importance of conserving our wild spaces.
    Whatever happened to a western route? And how can less destructive options be considered?

  7. Carole Dyer

    August 17, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Why not just shift the problem from Melksham into the countryside on the eastern side of town? After all, we only have traffic on the A3102, A365, A361, A350 Semington Bypass, Bollands Hill and the new Eastern Way descending on the area. Simply gouge out another gash through the countryside, add yet another stretch of tarmac, and send thousands of vehicles, most of which are merely “passing through”, alongside our villages, farmland, housing estates and secondary school. Better still if it can run parallel with the Kennet & Avon Canal for a while, and destroy delicate eco systems as it goes. Why not make it dual carriageway, and have the vehicles belting along at 70mph vomiting out their noise, dirt and pollution?
    Is this really the best the council can manage? Would it not be better for all concerned if it looked at ways to improve our current roads while decreasing road traffic on them? It could start by examining its own policies of allowing developments (such as Asda, Aldi, MacDonald’s and the housing on Foundry Close) to be built along the A350, public transport, school catchment areas, etc.
    Not only could our council do better, it should do better. This simply is not good enough.

  8. Mo

    August 31, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    None of these options tackle the real problem which is that building roads encourages more traffic. The congestion relief provided by option C would last 2 years before congestion settles back to how it is today. I’m aware that commuters are coming from as far away as Poole to work in Chippenham every week day while others drive 400yrds to the shops because they can. We have created an insane world where walking and cycling are only leisure activities. It seems that the last thing Wiltshire council wants to spend money on is making walking and cycling easier. Has anyone considered the fact that there is a climate emergency and health crisis?

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