A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Dualling

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Dualling

Received 09 October 2018
From West Camel Parish Council


West Camel Parish Council considers itself to be the most affected by Highways England’s proposals to dual this section of the A303. Council remain broadly supportive the proposed development which, if designed and constructed in a more cost effective and people centric manner could be of great benefit to our and neighbouring communities. West Camel PC believes that there are three elements in the proposals which are detrimental to both general A303 users and local communities, fail to represent ‘value for money’ to the UK taxpayer and would cause unnecessary environmental damage in both the short and the long term:

1. Traffic Forecast for West Camel – the proposed scheme shows a great reduction in traffic flows along the B3151 through Yeovilton and the A359 through Queen Camel as a direct result of traffic being able to freely access the dualled section of the A303 at or near Camel Cross.
The only two areas of increased traffic volumes are Sparkford village on the A359 and through the village of West Camel on unclassified roads. To encourage traffic to ‘rat-run’ through the unclassified roads of West Camel Village is totally unacceptable to our community and will ultimately result in serious injury or death!

West Camel Parish Council have consistently lobbied HE to this effect and have largely been ignored. A tenuous promise of a HE funded, Somerset County Highways provided Traffic Calming scheme, has no legal or contractual standing and has deliberately been omitted from the applicant’s DCO submission.

West Camel PC ask that the Applicant be required to work sensitively and responsively with them to ensure that ‘destination detail’ (currently not available) on signs erected around the Camel Cross (West) and Downhead (East) junctions do not exacerbate existing ‘rat-running’ problems and direct ‘through traffic’ to the classified (A & B) local road network.

The provision of AMPR cameras at these junction ‘off ramps’ would help to mitigate the abuse by HGVs of the existing 7.5 tonne weight limit in force on the unclassified roads through West Camel village.

West Camel PC ask the Inspector to make the mitigation of increased traffic flows through West Camel Village an enforceable condition of any planning permission in order to safeguard the lives, wellbeing and safety of our community.

2. Retention of the old A303 as a ‘local road’ – West Camel PC have consistently lobbied for the retention of the old A303 as a ‘local road’ between Hazelgrove and Podimore and have strenuously pointed out during the consultation period, that in the last two incarnations of a dualling scheme, the then Consulting Engineers (the last of whom were also Mott-MacDonald) designed a scheme with a retained local road!
The application fails to give serious consideration to the advantages of retaining the carriageway of the existing A303 for the use of local traffic, alongside the new dual carriageway. This is wholly inconsistent with similar HE schemes in the South West (A30 at Bodmin) where retention of the old road is seen as a priority.
Such a ‘parallel road’ would:
i. Substantially reduce both the cost and the duration of construction.
ii. Improve traffic flow on the A303 during construction.
iii. Greatly reduce congestion on local roads during the construction period.
iv. Give the A303 added resilience and improve access for emergency vehicles in the event of road traffic accidents on the dual carriageway.
v. 'Future proof’ the local road network when the A303 becomes an Expressway from which slow moving (including agricultural) vehicles are excluded.
vi. Help mitigate the ‘rat-running’ traffic through West Camel
West Camel PC respectfully submit that the Planning Inspector require the applicant to reconsider retaining the existing A303 carriageway alongside the new dual carriageway.

3 Hazelgrove (Sparkford) Junction). The unorthodox design and layout of the proposed Hazlegrove junction (unique we believe in the UK) will have a negative environmental impact on local communities.
i. It will destroy far more of the (Listed) Hazlegrove parkland than necessary.
ii. it will needlessly increase the length of journeys to and from Hazlegrove School.
iii. It will needlessly increase the distance travelled by traffic joining the eastbound carriageway of the A303 from the A359 (south).
iv. It will encourage such traffic to take a short cut through the middle of Sparkford village.
v. It will encourage traffic to avoid this junction and use the east bound junction above West Camel (Downhead Junction).
West Camel PC believe that the alternative design which is seen practicable by Fairhust Civil and Consulting Engineers, will be cheaper to construct, uses less of the listed Hazelgrove parkland, reduces the journey distance for parents and children to and from Hazelgrove school, reduces (and therefore, makes more practicable) access to the east bound A303 and will reduce ‘rat-running’ through Sparkford and West Camel villages.
West Camel Parish Council respectfully suggest that the applicant be required to consider the alternative design being put forward by the three joint parish councils, which would be demonstrably more environmentally sustainable and cheaper to construct.

4. Proposed diversion via A359 - The applicant’s proposed diversion of A303 traffic through Queen Camel, Marston Magna and Mudford villages into Yeovil to return via the A37 to the A303 at Ilchester are totally and utterly unacceptable to these local communities. The applicant's bland assurances that traffic will be ‘managed’ through a TMP do not reassure communities that suffer congestion ‘rat-running’ through unclassified local road each and every summer and whenever the A303 becomes congested, in either direction. Drivers will follow their SatNav devises along unclassified roads in an attempt to find a shorter diversionary route which will endanger the lives of people living in local communities.
Pre-provision of a retained ‘local road’ linking up sections of the retained (de-trunked) A303 would alleviate the need to close the A303 to traffic during construction of the proposed dual carriageway.
West Camel PC can provide the Planning Inspectorate with recent (2018) video evidence captured by residents of increased traffic flows through our unclassified roads when the existing A303 is heavily congested. This is very likely to become the ‘norm’ during the 30 month construction period.
West Camel Parish Council respectfully suggest that the DCO application include details of how the applicant will mitigate the adverse impact of self-diverting traffic.

Les Stevens
Clerk to West Camel Parish Council