Pub­lic to have their say on ma­jor road scheme

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - DANIEL MUMBY Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter

TWO sets of pub­lic hear­ings will take place later this year to en­able Som­er­set res­i­dents to have their say on turn­ing the A303 into a dual car­riage­way.

High­ways Eng­land has sub­mit­ted de­tailed plans to trans­form a three­mile stretch be­tween the Podi­more round­about near Ilch­ester and Spark­ford, at a cost of up to £250 mil­lion.

The plans are be­ing ex­am­ined by the Plan­ning In­spec­torate, and the Trans­port Sec­re­tary could give the fi­nal go-ahead by the end of the year.

Be­fore then, res­i­dents will have two op­por­tu­ni­ties to ask ques­tions about the scheme at pub­lic hear­ings to be held in late Fe­bru­ary and midMay, ei­ther side of the lo­cal elec­tions.

A pre­lim­i­nary pub­lic meet­ing was held on De­cem­ber 12, at which a num­ber of con­cerns were raised.

These in­clude the de­sign and lay­out of the Ha­zle­grove and Down­head junc­tions, the stop­ping-up of Ga­son Lane and Traits Lane near Spark­ford, and the prospect of in­creased traf­fic through Queen Camel, Spark­ford, and West Camel.

South Som­er­set Dis­trict Coun­cil will make a for­mal sub­mis­sion to the Plan­ning In­spec­torate be­fore June 12, high­light­ing its own con­cerns and point­ing out where lo­cal mit­i­ga­tion may be needed.

An up­date on this work came be­fore the coun­cil’s dis­trict ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in Yeovil this week.

Jo Man­ley, the coun­cil’s strate­gic plan­ning spe­cial­ist, said there was a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion over whether the scheme would have a se­vere im­pact on the vil­lages of Queen Camel, Spark­ford, West Camel and Yeovil­ton.

She said in her writ­ten re­port: “High­ways Eng­land has con­cluded that their mod­el­ling does not show sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse ef­fects as a re­sult of the in­creased ve­hi­cle move­ments, and there­fore no mit­i­ga­tion is re­quired as a re­sult of this scheme.

“Som­er­set County Coun­cil’s tech­ni­cal view is that ve­hi­cle move­ments do in­crease as a re­sult of the pro­posed scheme.”

The county coun­cil pre­dicts the ‘du­alling’ would lead to an ex­tra 600 ve­hi­cles per day pass­ing through West Camel (a 42 per cent rise from cur­rent lev­els) and an ex­tra 1,800 ve­hi­cles a day pass­ing through Spark­ford High Street (a 37 per cent in­crease).

Ms Man­ley added: “The county coun­cil has not yet con­cluded as to whether this in­crease of ve­hi­cles would re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse ef­fect.

“While High­ways Eng­land does not ac­cept that the scheme gen­er­ates sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse ef­fects, as a ges­ture of good­will it has of­fered the parish of West Camel some high­ways mit­i­ga­tion out­side of the of­fi­cial process.”

In a state­ment read aloud to the com­mit­tee, West Camel Parish Coun­cil said the county coun­cil’s ap­proach “beg­gars be­lief ”, and the pro­pos­als to com­bat ex­ist­ing rat runs through the vil­lage “fall far short” of the ex­pected stan­dard.

High­ways Eng­land has said a de­tailed in­spec­tion of the en­tire route will be car­ried out by the Plan­ning In­spec­torate on Fe­bru­ary 19, ahead of the first set of hear­ings.

A spokesman said: “A num­ber of hear­ings, dealing with mat­ters such as ar­chae­ol­ogy and cul­tural her­itage, ecol­ogy and flood­ing, noise and air qual­ity, traf­fic and trans­port and so­cio-eco­nomic ef­fects, will be tak­ing place be­tween Fe­bru­ary 26 and March 1. Any fur­ther hear­ings re­quired will be held be­tween May 14 and 16, and the ex­am­i­na­tion will be com­pleted by June 12.”

Both sets of hear­ings will be held at the Haynes In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum in Spark­ford.

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The Hazel­grove round­about on the A303

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