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THE news of a potential new bypass for the east of Melksham and around Beanace has been met with a mixed reaction from locals.
As revealed in the last issue of Melksham News, Wiltshire Council has applied to the Department for Transport (DfT) for funding for a new A350 bypass, proposing two ‘indicative’ routes to the east of the town.
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 but not taken forward.
In response to the news, residents from across Melksham and the surrounding villages have contacted Melksham News with their opinions on which of the two routes they prefer.
The majority of readers have given their support to ‘Option C’, the longer route around the town, criticising ‘Option A’ for ‘dumping’ traffic into the housing estate on the east of Melksham.
However, some readers have blasted ‘Option C’ as a ‘catastrophe’ for the environment, potentially destroying acres of countryside and woodland around the east of Melksham.
Whitley resident Leila Riley said, “I am wholeheartedly in favour of these plans. In particular, plan C would appear to be the most desirable. Imagine the transformation that could happen for Melksham and its residents! It would mean that the entire town, including Bowerhill, could have less traffic congestion, noise and pollution.”
East of Melksham resident, Scott Vivian, said, “I must say that ‘A’ is not a bypass, it moves all the traffic into the new estates built and being built, adding a big traffic flow problem to the Bowerhill roundabout. The only bypass for the A350, and it’s clear to see from the map, would be ‘C’, this bypasses all.”
Simon Lawrence said “Option A is no bypass at all. It will dump traffic into Melksham and the Eastern Way which already is gridlocked at peak school times. The only real option here is ‘C’ which moves traffic away entirely.”
Beanacre resident, Gary Jardine said, “When you consider the number of vehicles using the A350, there can only be one option without upsetting a large number of Melksham residents and that’s Option C.”
Ray Sissins said, “Hooray, about time! Only option C should be considered. A only moves the problem elsewhere, mostly into housing estates.”
Speaking out against both bypass routes, local Jamie Halliday said, “Firstly, this may provide relief for the residents of Beanacre and northern Melksham, but in effect all these proposals do is push the issues they face to other areas of the town and countryside in varying degrees. Option A would be a disaster for the health of any of the residents near Sandridge and option C will push pollution and noise to the residents of Bowerhill and Seend.”
Bowerhill resident Dale Robinson, added “I believe proposal C is absolute madness as it would see the destruction of acres of beautiful countryside and woodland. It would take the road very close to existing housing in Bowerhill. The community already suffers from noise from traffic speeding along the A350 to the east and this would bring it even closer.
“Option A for me makes the most sense, not least because of the huge difference in construction costs, but also the connecting road network from Western way roundabout is already up to bypass standard or at least it will be, when the connection of the new connecting road from the Spa to the new Calne road is completed.”
A decision by the DfT is expected by December and Wiltshire Council has said that 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.