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Letter: Is the proposed A350 Eastern bypass really such a good idea?

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Dear Sir

Whilst I empathise with the unpleasant conditions, described in a letter from a Beanacre resident, that the current A350 route has, and see why what is being proposed seems to be so desirable and possibly even deserved. I’d point out the following:

Official statistics show that during the last twenty years the level of traffic on that stretch of the road has been fairly constant (although this doesn’t include the potential increase due to the changes on the A36 in Bath).  Also that, extending back thirty years, the road was still very busy.  So here’s the thing, did that Beanacre resident that purchased their property during that time period, do so under duress ?  I.E. Did they have no choice as where they were to live ?  Residents along the potential route, and, trust me on this, Wiltshire Council want the full route through behind Bowerhill to be built, with only a restriction in central government funding effecting that plan, will have no such choice about having a busy main road plonked on their doorstep.  NB  This will also include Melksham Oak school and all its pupils.  So, is it that you had a choice, but now want others to have none, in order to implement your change of mind, in terms of the wisdom of your original choice ?

However it’s actually more complicated than that, as Wiltshire Council have no intention of closing the current A350 route.  Instead they will create a traffic balance between the two routes, this is what their submission to the DfT for funding clearly says.  Also logically why would they close the current route as, despite all protestation, it provides little real impedance to flow, again official stats provided as part of the Wiltshire Council submission to the DfT shows this, and certainly not in the same way that the route through Semington with its canal bridge did.   Not only that, retention of the current route would provide redundancy for any problems that new road can just as easily experince as the current route.

Also the whole goal of building this road is not to improve current traffic flows, but to provide a platform for the huge house building plans that Wiltshire Council have for Trowbridge, Melksham and Chippenham.  These plans, if allowed to go ahead because of the bypass’s construction, will see traffic levels double over the next fifteen or so years.  The net result of that will be that Beanacre residents will regain the same level of traffic flows that they experince now.  However it will be worse for them than that, due to the proximity of the new bypass as it re-joins the current A350 between Beanacre and Lacock.   

If they want to understand what that means, come over to Bowerhill and stand almost anywhere.  What you will experince is the constant noise from the A350, with traffic traveling at 60 mph (the proposed speed limit for the new road), not the sedate 30mph in Beanacre.  The A350 is some half a mile away from Bowerhill and a lot is in a big trench as it goes down to the Semington roundabout, but that doesn’t block the noise.

In Beanacre’s case this will be much worst, as the road will be up on a high causeway to get it over the flood plain.  If you want to see what that will look like, just go to Sainsburys/the road to BOA, and you will see and hear what Western way is like, which is the model for the proposed Eastern way.  At Bowerhill there are lots of obstructions to the noise, but it still penetrates.  The new route will be across a wide open flood plain with ample opportunity for the sound to spread out to Beanacre, Lacock and far beyond. There are also a myriad other negative impacts the new road will have on Melksham.     

Don’t take my word for it, look here for the material Wiltshire Council  submitted to the DfT. https://1drv.ms/u/s!BOSD62PLWDzFhPE-o5A9t4uOCgnlqA?e=CKeYMm

Start with the folder “First Application”.  You can also find this link, and a lot more facts, in the Facebook page: ‘Stopthemelkshambypass’.  Also just  go and see/hear what I’ve described.   

If Wiltshire Council  build an Eastern bypass, a very large proportion of Melksham and surrounding area will suffer.  There will be no upside for Melksham, irrespective of whichever route is supposedly ‘recommended’.   The only real beneficiaries of this project are, the central government’s house building plans, and the Wiltshire Council cabinet who will undoubtably be recognised for enabling those plans, whilst at the same time avoiding impacting where they live and represent.

Choose to support the proposals if you feel you must, but when this comes back to bite you, remember, like before, you had a free choice, with the impact of that choice being your responsibility, and yours alone.

P Chipper,

Melksham.

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