The Melksham Bypass
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Below is from the December 2021 release, but read on for the latest!


At the Cabinet Meeting of Tuesday 30 November it was agreed to proceed with proposals for the A350 Melksham bypass.

(HOWEVER December 2021:-)

It also agreed to change the way forward for the scheme, after considering the responses from local councils, community groups and the public to the second consultation on the scheme, held between 23 June and 8 August.


(HOWEVER March 2022:-)!

Wiltshire Council will now defer the submission of the Outline Business Case to the DTI

as they will now wait on the release of the initial results of the

'National Highways M4 to Dorset Connectivity Study'


Abbreviations often used in this context

MRN = Major Road Network (ie. A350).  DfT= Department for Transport.  HIF= Housing Infrastructure Fund. STB= Sub-national Transport Bodies. (regional bodies) WGSSTB= Western Gateway Shadow Sub-National Transport Body (Wilts Council is only one part of this body). OBC= Outline Business Case (for government funding). LLM= Large Local Major Road (ie. the A350). CIL = Community Infrastructure Levy. WC = Wiltshire Council




Most of the following has in part been lifted from the A350 Melksham Bypass. (PDF) but simplified and with additions from other official sources.



In July 2017, the Department for Transport’s “Transport Investment Strategy” was published. As part of the Strategy, central Government committed to creating a ‘Major Road Network’ (MRN) across England – more specifically a network of England’s most important routes which complement motorways and strategic trunk roads. (The A350 is currently a Large Local Major road but could well be designated a MRN if all the 'improvements' ie Bypasses etc go ahead ))

( Note: LLM roads are the responsibility of local authorities and are funded by a mixture of Government grants and tenders for development from respective Government funds. MRN roads are still the responsibility of local authorities but are to be guaranteed funding from the respective Government funds, Strategic Roads are the responsibility of Highways England)

To help finance this objective Government created the ‘National Roads Fund’, and allotted it £28.8 billion to be spent between 2020-2025; £3.5 billion of which is to be spent on improving the MRN. This funding was confirmed in March 2020 in DfT’s publication of their second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) for the period 2020– 2025.

Government indicated that access to the above fund would be carried out via new Sub-national Transport Bodies (STB), i.e. bodies designed to enable regions (in our case, several County Councils) to speak with one voice on strategic transport planning. To carry out this role The Western Gateway Shadow Sub-National Transport Body  (WGSSTB) was officially formed in a shadow status in December 2018 with Wiltshire Councillor Bridget Wayman elected as Chair. (Councillor for Nadder and East Knoyle, (not local to Melksham you may notice) also WC Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Waste.

The Western Gateway (WGSSTB ) is formed by an alliance of the following Local Authorities: Bath and North East Somerset Council, BCP Council (Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole), Bristol City Council, Dorset Council, Gloucestershire County Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Wiltshire Council and West of England Combined Authority.

The WGSSTB considered schemes from all member authorities, and following its meeting in June 2019, the WGSSTB agreed to submit nine schemes to DfT for funding, four of which are in Wiltshire.

The Wiltshire schemes are:
(a) A350 - M4 Junction 17 Improvement
(b) A350 Chippenham Bypass Improvements – Phases 4 & 5
(c) A338 Southern Salisbury Improvements and
(d) A350 Melksham Bypass.

In May 2020 development funding from the DfT ( £1.33 million for OBC) was awarded for the A350 Melksham Bypass scheme, and also the award of funding for the development of other schemes for the MRN at A350 – M4 Junction 17 and A338 Southern Salisbury Improvements. (This funding is only for the development of an OBC, further funding for any scheme depends on a successful Business Case being accepted by the DfT)

Taken from (Wilts) Council Capital Programme - Transport May 2020. (PDF)

These schemes will require a ‘local authority contribution’ (Wiltshire Council in this case) towards their overall capital cost (including development costs) –(DfT’s expectation (to some extent negotiable) is that scheme promoters will contribute 15% towards the capital cost, (about 20 million for Melksham Bypass on today's cost estimate) and around 1/3rd of development costs.

A key outcome of the MRN investment is to reduce congestion, securing the following outcomes: improve air quality and biodiversity, reduce noise and risk of flooding, protect water quality, landscape and cultural heritage sites

The present Strategic Road for this area is a mixture of the A36 and A46, via Bath, Warminster and Salisbury. Local authorities in the area have suggested that there is a case for adopting an alternative Strategic corridor –the A350 –as the main Strategic Route for the area; and then beginning a coordinated programme of upgrades to provide a high-quality route linking the M4 to the Dorset Coast.

To help the scheme progress to the next stage, DfT have confirmed that they will make a contribution of £1.33 million and £0.170 million respectively towards the costs of developing the Outline Business Cases (OBC). These contributions are based on a 2/3rd1/3rd split.

The residual cost for Wiltshire Council (WC) of schemes currently estimated at the following: (however costs are surely to rise as we all know!)

(in £’m) Melksham Bypass OBC cost £2.00, DfT contribution £1.33, WC contribution £0.670. Salisbury Junctions OBC £0.250, DfT £0.170 , WC £0.080. M4 J17 OBC £0.250, DfT £0.170, WC £0.080. (Don't forget these are costs in million!)

That amount is not fixed as yet, however the implication of a (worst case) 15% contribution: Possible level of required capital support (£m) are for the Melksham Bypass = year 2024 =£5mill., 2025 =£5mill, 2026 =£5mill, 2027 =£5mill. The Salisbury Junctions = year 2022 =£0.90mill. 2023 =£0.90mill.2014 =£0.90mill. and the M4 J17= 2023 =£1.95mill. 2024 =£1.95mill (Again, don't forget these are costs in million!).

At this stage funding options for the medium/long term Local Contributions (above) need to be confirmed but should include the use of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106, (levies on housing and commercial development paid by the developer) other options will need to be reviewed in light of current position and will include prioritizing existing funding to these schemes

(Note: the above CIL income is intended to be used to fund a wide range of infrastructure, including transport, flood defences, schools, hospitals, and other health and social care facilities. This definition allows the levy to be used to fund a very broad range of facilities such as play areas, open spaces, parks and green spaces, cultural and sports facilities, healthcare facilities, academies and free schools, district heating schemes and police stations and other community safety facilities. This flexibility gives local areas the opportunity to choose what infrastructure they need to deliver their relevant plan. Local authorities must spend the levy on infrastructure needed to support the development of their area, and they will decide what infrastructure is needed. The levy can be used to increase the capacity of existing infrastructure or to repair failing existing infrastructure, if that is necessary to support development.

WC can legally use these levies to fund transport infrastructure but maybe you think it should be used to support current infrastructure not go towards the WC contribution to a Bypass?