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 19 October 2018
From Strutt and Parker on behalf of Church Commissioners for England


This representation is submitted by Strutt & Parker on behalf of the Church Commissioners for England (The Commissioners). The Commissioners are a registered Charity with land holdings across the country. The Commissioners’ Yeovil estate is predominantly divided into two farms, Higher Farm and Courtry & Speckington Farm. Both farms sit in close proximity to the current route of the A303 and access to parts of the two farms are heavily dependent upon it.

The Commissioners, through their managing agents, have over the past year taken part in the consultation process for the Dualling of the Sparkford to Ilchester section of the A303, including attendance at several consultation events and through discussions with the project team at Highways England. The Commissioners and their farm tenants have also provided consent to enable preliminary survey works to be undertaken on the land owned by the Commissioners.

This representation comments on specific features of the design for the A303 dualling scheme submitted by Highways England with the intended aim of ensuring that reasonable changes to the scheme are made to help mitigate our client’s losses.

This representation is broken down into three parts for separate parcels of land affected.
A - Land at Higher Farm. Title Numbers, WS46264, WS46259, WS46247
B - Land at Courtry & Speckington Farm (South of A303). Title Number WS46097
C - Land at Courtry & Speckington Farm (North of A303). Title Number WS46095

A - Land at Higher Farm. Title Numbers, WS46264, WS46259, WS46247

Our client welcomes the inclusion of an accommodation access running from Higher Farm lane to serve their land under title number WS46247. Are client disagrees that that the access provides them with a suitable alternative means of access. To ensure that the track is suitable for modern agricultural machinery, and provides a similar access provision, our client request the following;
- That the access track is completed to at least 4.5 meters wide with cleared margins on either side of at least 1 meter. This is to allow the safe transition and manoeuvring of large machinery, such as a combine harvester. All gates should also be of an appropriate width accordingly.
- That the access track is constructed with a suitable hard wearing surface which shall require minimal maintenance. A reinforced concrete surface would be advisable to ensure that the high load of agricultural machinery can be accommodated.
- That a gate is installed along the boundary of the accommodation access and title WS46247 to ensure that access can be gained to the retained land.

Our client is concerned by the suggested outfall from pond 1 (Plot reference 1/4a), which appears to lead to their land under title number WS46264. From our review of the proposed drawings, this could lead to 3.47 hectares of the Highway area draining onto our client’s land, which already low lying and suffering from poor drainage. This is significantly more than at present. We would contest that this is not a suitable place for such an outfall and it would be advisable to move the outfall to allow water to flow significantly further west along the highway in the direction of the Podimore roundabout. This could potentially connect to the existing culvert at the Higher Farm Lane overbridge, instead of the culvert running across my clients’ land. The proposals by Highways England do not appear to show any works to the existing watercourse (ditch) which this outfall will flow into, to ensure it is of a suitable capacity. The proposals as they stand will have an adverse impact on our clients’ land. Our client disagrees with the provision of drainage for the scheme.

B - Land at Courtry & Speckington Farm (South of A303). Title Number WS46097

Our client is again pleased to see that there needs for access to the western section of the above title have been considered and that an accommodation access is proposed from the B3151 to the east. Our client would however suggest that an accommodation access may not be required if a section of the ditch running through this title could be piped and a small section of hedgerow removed. Thus providing a means of access to the parcel. This would enable our client to farm the entire area of land within this title as one block and reduce accordingly the area of land take required. This would mitigate losses to my clients and have a significant reduction in the cost of the scheme to Highways England. We would welcome the opportunity to review this further with the project team.

If the accommodation access is to be provided as detailed, then my client would request that the specification is the same as noted in respect of accommodation access serving the land at Higher Farm (see above comments)

In respect of land to be permanent acquired, the land take in respect of parcel 2/5c appears somewhat excessive (in the southern portion), perhaps by up to 0.2 hectares. It also provides the field with a more awkward shape to farm which will further reduce the area that can be cropped. Our client disagrees that the amount of land take is reasonable in this location.

Our client is also significantly concerned that their current access from the B3151, on the most eastern tip of this land parcel, appears to be removed. This is a key access to the field for large machinery. My client does benefit from another access further west along the B3151 but this is not suitable for agricultural machinery in its current form. My client invites Highways England to consider options for suitable access provision to this parcel so that a wider parcel of land is not de-valued.

Our client is also concerned that a significant portion of the new scheme is intended to be drained using the ditch that traverses their land under this title (and leads further west to my clients’ title under title number WS46228). This field is already particularly wet and no proposals are made by Highways England to improve this ditch to ensure that it has suitable capacity (together with the waterways which it leads to). In total, an area of 24.34 hectares (catchments 2 & 3) together with existing drained area will eventually drain into this ditch. My client has significant concerns as to whether the existing field drainage and ditching will be able to cope with additional run off. We would invite Highways England to submit modelling to our client to demonstrate that there will be no adverse impact from the drainage proposals onto our clients’ land. The documents submitted by Highways England do not appear to demonstrate that the impact on this ditch has been modelled. Our client disagrees with the provision of drainage for the scheme.

The land parcel also includes a works and material storage compound under parcel 2/5b. This area is at least 4.8 hectares and seems rather excessive for the proposed use. The allocated area almost appears somewhat arbitrator. Our client would request justification to show why such a large area is required by the scheme for the purpose outlined. Our client would also request detail of proposed ground protection measures and detail of what temporary drainage provision will be provided on the site to protect our clients neighbouring land from run off. The land is low lying with a heavy soil. During winter months, ground conditions can be extremely challenging. My client would therefore questions whether this parcel of land is indeed suitable for a site compound. If the land is utilised, my client and their tenant farmer will require access to the retained land to the west through the works site. Our client disagrees that the amount of temporary land take is reasonable in this location.

C - Land at Courtry & Speckington Farm (North of A303). Title Number WS46095

Again, our client welcomes the provision of an accommodation access that can serve their land, as the current entrance directly from the A303 will be closed. My client would request that the specification for this accommodation access as it leads from its most eastern extent to my clients’ land in the west, is the same as noted in respect of accommodation access serving the land at Higher Farm (see above comments).

The field included within this title is currently subject to arable cropping. The reduction in size, to approximately 5.7 acres may render it unsuitable for arable production in the future, particularly as the works will render it more severed from the remaining holding land it already is. To help mitigate the loss in value of the land, my client would request that Highways England securely stock proof fence the perimeter of the land so that is may be utilised by livestock in the future.

Fencing along all stretches of land should bordering my clients land where works are to be undertaken should be of stock proof fencing, with a specification of pig netting, two strands of barbed wire with tantalised round posts with a lifespan of at least 30 years.