BOTH of Melksham’s councils have given their backing to the longer route option for a bypass for the east of Melksham and around Beanace.
Councillors have said that ‘Option C’ – which would connect the A350 north of Beanacre with the A350 Semington bypass, south of Bowerhill – is the ‘best’ and ‘only’ option’ for the town.
The second option, ‘Option A’ – which would connect the A350 north of Beanacre with Eastern Way (where it meets with Sandridge Common) – has been described by councillors as ‘concerning’ as it would push heavy traffic through a housing development, and endanger Melksham Oak students walking to school.
However, some councilors have expressed concern about the environmental impact ‘Option C’ would have on the countryside to the east of the town, and the possible impact on Bowerhill residents who would be living next to the new bypass.
Both bypass options have been submitted by Wiltshire Council to the Department for Transport (DfT) in a application for funding. A third route, ‘Option B’, was considered but not taken forward.
At this month’s town council economic development and planning meeting, mayor cllr Jon Hubbard said, “My big concern with ‘Option A’ is that it comes round and joins the eastern distributor road as I see it – this is going to put a huge quantity of traffic onto the roundabouts on Spa Road – the layout of the road is just not going to cope. If we have problems at Farmers Roundabout now, what’s going to happen to these smaller roundabouts with that level of traffic – it’s not going to work.
“This (Option A) is going to be running through the new 450 homes and the existing east of Melksham development. And ‘A’ will be in such a position that children will have to cross that road to get to Melksham Oak – they will have to cross the new Melksham bypass!
Cllr Tony Watts added, “The only route ‘C’ is a bypass, which is what we have been asking for.”
The majority of town councillors voted in favour of informing Wiltshire Council that their preference is ‘Option C’ as it is the only ‘viable option’ to address the traffic issues in the town.
At last week’s full council meeting of the Melksham Without Parish Council, cllr Paul Carter said, “To me, it’s obvious, route C is the one to support.”
Cllr David Pafford, who lives in Bowerhill and represents the ward, said, “I am worried about the consequences of building that bypass through what is open countryside – forming a concrete barrier between Bowerhill and the countryside. It will destroy whatever wildlife is currently in existence.”
Cllr Alan Baines added, “‘Option A’ would bring A350 traffic adjacent to newly-built properties all along Eastern Way and yet to be built properties.
“There will be a large amount of open countryside affected wherever it goes. In order to do the job properly and get the through traffic on the A350 away from Melksham, Beanacre and other rural properties, ‘Option C’ really is the only one.”
The majority of parish councillors voted in favour of backing the following statement, “Of the two options on the table, we would favour “Option C”, provided that there was sufficient mitigation against disturbance to communities near its path.”
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.