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Eastern Bypass by the back door?

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LOCAL resident, Phil Chipper, has responded to Wiltshire Council saying a Melksham bypass is still in the pipeline, as reported in Melksham News.

He says, “I saw the latest pronouncement from Bridget Wayman [Wiltshire Council] in the Melksham News, on how the infamous Melksham Eastern bypass was “still in the pipeline”.   

“Firstly, Wiltshire Council is still broke and the £2million identified to complete the business case is only partially funded by central government, so it seems like profligacy by WC to spend their contribution on a document to promote a scheme they can’t afford anytime soon.  

“Why can’t they afford it? It’s because they are broke and any agreement reached with central government for funding the bypass is subject to a 15% ‘local contribution’, i.e. provided by WC.  If the scheme say cost £200m as, despite earlier estimates of @ £135m, WC have recently upwardly revised that to £180m, and it can only get more expensive.  Therefore a reasonably formula is: £200m * 15% = £30m, for WC to find, from already empty coffers.  So if they pushed ahead with this vanity folly project, they will have to make cuts in services to subsidise their ambitions for the A350 corridor of housing, and Trowbridge’s elevation to premier North Wiltshire Settlement.   Yet another nail in the Campus’ coffin.  It must getting hard to find room for them now. 

 “However in the context of Mrs Wayman’s statement, one interesting thing is currently occurring in Melksham.  Remember the various bypass routes, including the discarded ‘B’ option?   Well looking at the work currently happening on Snowberry Lane and Spa Road, it looks like route ‘B’ might not be actually off the table.   Looking at application 18/04644/REM, which covers the new build south of Snowberry Lane, there is unmistakeably a road that will replace the current Snowberry Lane route, from the point (heading down from the A3102) where it turns sharp right, to where a new roundabout layout is being constructed between the current Snowberry Lane roundabout, and the Devizes road one.   It was described by Jon Hubbard during the 2018 planning process as; “the relief road”.   Generally the term ‘relief road’ is synonymous with ‘bypass’.    It can be best appreciated by following this link:   

https://unidoc.wiltshire.gov.uk/UniDoc/Document/File/MTgvMDQ2NDQvUkVNLDEzNDMxMDA=  

 “It means that if WC really wants to make a start on an Eastern bypass when this road is finished, they ‘only’ need to complete the link from A350 at Lacock and bring it across to the current roundabout where Snowberry Lane meets the A3102 Calne Road, and phase 1 is done.  

“This allows WC breathing room, in the way it did with the A350 Chippenham bypass, which was built in sections, to mobilise for a final push from some point on this first phase, across and behind Bowerhill to join the A350 once again.   This full route being the goal of WC, as it provides the dual benefits of being the most direct uninterrupted route to/from Trowbridge past Melksham to Chippenham and the M4, and opens up swathes more land to satisfy its insatiable push for the expansion of housing, with no supporting social etc facilities, in the north of the county. 

 “I question what are the quantifiable benefits from the saving of the average 4 minutes (comparing rush hour to the most quiet time) which is the net difference in journey time across the Melksham to Lacock section of the A350, that WC identified in a study it commissioned on the usage of the A350 as part of its Eastern bypass funding submission to the DfT.  

“Even allowing for the fact that an average means longer differences can be experienced, it also means shorter ones can be too.  Therefore considering the cost overall, and specifically for a council already being bailed out by central government just to fulfil its mandatory commitments, continuing to promote a scheme in order to save an average 4 minutes of journey time, and requiring the wholesale destruction of vast swathes of countryside, doesn’t seem to provide any realistic cost/benefit justifications, certainly not for Melksham.  

“The expectation that electric cars would somehow offset the increase in noise/air pollution from an expansion in traffic that an Eastern bypass will generate as part of WC’s A350 corridor plan, is just another WC fantasy, i.e. hands up who is planning on rushing out to replace their existing car with a vastly more expensive electric one?    Add to this, WC’s supposed promise to be carbon neutral by 2030, and I can see nothing to restore any faith in Mrs Wayman’s ability to provide any statement that is at all well founded in reality.”

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