The Melksham Bypass
Unofficial Guide

Useful Web Links

 

How we got here     Where we are now

 

  Have your say  

 

My Personal thoughts

 

Posters for Printing

 

  Wilts and Berks Canal Project

 

Basic route description

 

Government Cycling and Walking Policy

 

Please also take a look at this site https://a350bypass.com/

 and the 'Stop the Melksham Bypass' Facebook page

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2523932241180557/

 

Current as of March 16th 2021

 

If you have any feedback, see any glaring errors, or have anything relevant to add to this page then use the email below

owen.burton2012@gmail.com

This is an ongoing work - updated regularly - any new information will be put in this page

Whilst I cannot remain neutral on the subject, the object of these pages is to give everyone the chance to be fully informed, not with just what WC puts out publicly.

Personally I am against any new bypass, feeling there is a awful lot that could be done to improve the existing area around Farmers roundabout, Asda, Bath Road lights and the Aldi-Leekes area. WC do mention it in the blurb but so far I can see no strong evidence that it has been REALLY seriously considered.

A fast, wide, up to 7 mile long bypass over virgin countryside costing up to £132 million (at today's costing) for just a few minutes saving seems desecration of our lovely land. Something else to think about:-

Joint venture company Northacre Renewable Energy, owned by the Hills Group and the Bioenergy Infrastructure Group, was last year given permission by Wiltshire Council for an advanced thermal treatment plant on the Northacre Industrial Estate in Westbury. Now they want to abandon the hi-tech technology to use the standard moving grate combustion method, and have submitted another planning application to the council. The company is also applying to the Environment Agency for an operating permit. Public consultation on the permit application ends on January 22. Should this all go ahead, guess which road will be used for transporting all the rubbish to Westbury? The A350 will have even more HGV traffic - so what have WC in mind I wonder when they give us an option in the November response of  'HGV restrictions'?  Read more here Westbury Incinerator project

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

 

The first consultation on the subject is over but you can email the council with your views.

 

There’s plenty more information in the other links below so I will just keep the explanations simple on this one.

 

Read this first - Housing supply in Wiltshire  and here https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-whsap

 

 

So, what exactly is this all about?

The Bypass consultation period is now over and WC have collated all the responses which are available to read online here: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/highways-a350-melksham-bypass

I have also downloaded the relevant documents here:A350_Melksham_Bypass_Public_consultation_report_FINAL.pdf

and here: A350_Melksham_Bypass_Consultation_Appendices_FINAL.pdf

The Wiltshire Local Plan review consultation is now over and this is the latest from Wiltshire Council on the subject https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/local-plan-review-consultation

Wiltshire Council budget for 21/22 : https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/budget-approved

Planning for Melksham WC Wiltshire Local Plan Review recently presented to WC Cabinet

Melksham/Bowerhill Map of potential development land  from above document. Very light blue = land considered

And definitely read this one! Melksham Site Selection Report

See numbers of houses planned here - Melksham is in the North and West HMA.

Development plans in YOUR area ;- Emerging Spatial Strategy

All the above documents can be found here   Google Drive open link

https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planning-policy-monitoring-evidence

And this makes interesting viewing land available for development 2017 (PDF)

 Melksham is included in the Chippenham Housing Area, so unfulfilled housing allocations for Chippenham can be added to Melksham for 'top up'!

In recent times Chippenham house building has not lived up to WC anticipations but Melksham has done better than expected.

A shortage of brownfield sites to fulfill the housing quota means WC need to look for greenfield sites that can be squeezed for housing.

A more recent Settlement Boundary Review established the current outline of large villages, Market Towns and Larger Towns, land outside of which is designated 'countryside'. Development outside of the Settlement Boundary is not as easily done as within the Boundary - subject to certain provisions.

Wiltshire Council, having established likely development land via their own sub-departments then needs to 'open' the land to development. Making a case for a bypass around a settlement is one way, and then the land between it and the settlement is more likely to become eligible for development. 

This process is currently on-going at Hilperton where, having built the Hilperton Bypass (Elizabeth Way) WC later allocated the land the west side of it for housing development. This is exactly what will happen around Melksham.

If you think it will not, then just look at this.  The Hilperton Bypass (relief road) was sold as a great thing for Hilperton village back in 2016, it worked well for Hilperton by moving both local and through traffic onto a bright new bypass.  Back then proposed housing on the west side was met with strong local opposition and was shelved. However, In the Wiltshire Housing Sites Allocation Plan  adopted Feb 2020 WC quietly included all this land for housing. This was done legally but quietly. Now the land on the western side of the bypass (Elizabeth way) is on the way to having up to 400 houses on it. Object you may, but this land was allocated by WC and it will do no good. I wouldn't mind laying a bet that after these houses are built the eastern side is being eyed up by WC! See this map of Hilperton Bypass house building.

Establishing the 'need' for the Melksham Bypass has been on course for a number of years, but the recent efforts started in 2017.

By building a case against the current A350 route, such as traffic delays, poor accident record, severance of things like the railway station and housing on the western side of Melksham (Shaw, Shurnhold etc -are these actually part of Melksham or separate villages in their own right?) from the town centre, the severance of one side of the road at Beanacre from the other side (it's a road-what else do you expect!) Wiltshire Council are now saying we need yet another bypass to 'make things better' for everyone. You can see from this map of Melksham Settlement Boundary just why they want the bypass - to infill with the 2000+ homes to fulfill the Melksham 'Quota'

See press release here

It is obvious from other WC documents and Atkins report that whilst building a bypass is not reliant on additional housing, additional housing is 'predicated' (to use their term) on the bypass being built.

Having managed to persuade the DfT of the merit of their case they acquired £1.9 million to try and prove it really is needed. WC will need to add in the area of  £565,000 to that total.

I have read dozens of WC internal documents (open to all if you can find them!) and despite the protestations of WC that all options will be given equal weight in making any decisions the Western Options are rarely mentioned or given serious consideration when they are, with all the emphasis on eastern routes.  Atkins is the council consultants responsible for preparing reports for such as the bypass. These reports are lengthy and complex, going into great detail, some of which is beyond me.  However what we do see in sifting through these reports is the oh-so obvious strong bias towards the eastern routes. In one report Atkins openly dismiss the western options as being a non-starter due to the multiple complications on that side of town. 

As a matter of fact, the only time I have seen any real reference to western routes or to improving the current A350 is in the documentation put out by WC in connection with the November  consultation.  These snippets from the Nov 2019 Akins SOBC addendum give an indication. The other route options including improving what is already there are red herrings I suspect, to conceal the real purpose of getting an eastern route through.

Lots of choice makes it look good but the truth is the western routes are too difficult to do and improving the existing one is considered not good value for money. Offer  us a couple of routes they know will be very unpopular (10c and d), so that when 10a or b are selected it appears they have listened to popular opinion and Joe public thinks they have a victory.  Maggie Thatcher did a similar thing in the 1980's with the Poll tax that turned into the Council Tax and everyone thought 'great, they listened to us'!!. Perhaps this snippet shows the way any objections would be seen by WC - just a nuisance, causing a delay and some extra cost

Take my word for it, WC must have this bypass for reasons other than cutting a few minutes off of journey times (just 3 to 5 minutes on 10c is Atkins estimate) and they will twist and turn, duck and dive until they get their way. For them, it must happen, and it must be one of the eastern options because, other than looking daft and wasting a shed load of OUR money if it doesn't, they need to build 2000 odd houses around Melksham to fulfill their 5 year plan 2021-26 and an eastern bypass is the best 'infill option ' for it. Commercial development will follow on the eastern side of the new bypass, just as is happening in Chippenham.

The very minimum they would find acceptable would be 10a as this would allow housing infill, with 10b or 10c being even better. A feeder road is currently being built  (from Thyme Road ) through the Spa Road east development which will eventually link the 10a or b to the current Bowerhill Roundabout on the A365.

 Routes 10c or 10 d would avoid the feeder road entirely. So why is this feeder road being built at all I wonder, if 10c or d wouldn't use it?

My best guess is when the feeder road and houses on the Spa Road estate are completed; the existing Snowberry Lane and Eastern Way south of Thyme Road will be become redundant and built over. Maybe not, but from WC point of view it's good housing land and the road will not be needed

WC has identified greenfield land around Melksham and Bowerhill for possible future housing development. All this is currently outside of the Settlement Boundary of both areas. There are certain circumstances whereby WC can themselves allocate land outside a settlement boundary but it is much easier if it can be converted into 'infill' as with a bypass. This map shows the identified land shown here in very light blue. As you can clearly see, an eastern bypass would be very useful in opening up the shaded areas.

If perhaps you think WC would never build houses so very close to our lovely canal then think again. It has happened on the outskirts of Devizes where a whole new estate is being built with just a 15 metre gap between the canal and houses.

And here we have some more idea of what’s to come in Melksham development. SHELAA 2017 Land for development Melksham

If this has got you interested then all the documents and pictures used (and some unused as yet) in these web pages are HERE for you to dig into. If on the other hand you are bored stiff then I wont be offended if you log off. However I ask that you just consider using the consultation response form on November 2020 public consultation (ends on the17th January) just so that WC cannot say in the future "You didn't tell us that!"