13th November 2019
To: Planning Inspectorate
Re TRO10036: A303 Sparkford to Ilchester dualling - Comments and additional information on matters requested in Department of Transport letter dated 5 November 2019.
I am providing, in my professional capacity as an experienced Project Manager/ Surveyor, further information in response to the requests for clarification and additional information in the letter of 5 November 2019 from the Department of Transport.
My response is supported by the Parish Councils of Queen Camel, West Camel and Sparkford (the three Parish Councils). It is presented in summary form emphasising the important points submitted and issues raised during the public hearings on this scheme. It is dealt with in three sections: 1 Local Transport, 2 Effect of detrunking the existing A303 on the community and 3 Conclusion.
1. LOCAL TRANSPORT
The evidence submitted at the Public Enquiry, as summarised in Table A below, shows that Highways England’s (HE) chosen design for the Hazlegrove junction will impose unacceptable and unnecessary burdens and will impose substantial environmental and economic costs on the local users of the junction. Furthermore this junction will not function at peak periods.
This is illustrated on the attached drawing No 127642001 by Fairhurst which demonstrates the clear advantages of the local proposed revision to the HE scheme. The design as presented conforms in all respects with the requirements of DMRB.
Fairhurst & local
Area used within RPG
Area used outside RPG
RPG is the Grade II listed Registered Park & Garden of Hazlegrove House
7.3m width/ 5m verges
3.65m width/ 5m verges
Single track passing bay
Additional road travel:
600,000km per annum
780,000km per annum
860,000km per annum
Based on A359 traffic surveys in May 2017 and 2019 in Queen Camel
Corresponding add’l CO2 emissions
Fill & consolidate
Local scheme COST SAVING
If the 5% pa increase in peak hour traffic, as recorded by two traffic surveys continues as we believe it will, given that 765 houses have just received planning consent outside Mudford near the A359 with another 550 houses awaiting planning approval on the east side of Yeovil, the effect (using the same evidence as submitted to the public enquiry) at the turn on to the east on-slip road is illustrated by the figures below for 2023 and 2028 respectively:
410 vehicles travel west from the existing roundabout of which 320 turn on to East on-slip and meet 230 vehicles heading east in the morning and 290 in the afternoon. On average one car every 8.8 seconds meets one every 15.7 seconds in the morning and one every 12.5 seconds in the afternoon.
530 vehicles travel west from the existing roundabout of which 440 turn on to East on-slip and meet 240 vehicles heading east in the morning and 300 in the afternoon. On average one car every 6.8 seconds meets one every 15.0 seconds in the morning and one every 12.0 seconds in the afternoon.
As the school traffic is largely condensed into half hours the effect will be magnified and will lead to tailbacks, delays and increased risk of accidents, which is particularly unacceptable with children as passengers.
The above figures make it clear that this turning cannot function at peak periods. Within all HE’s documentation I have been unable to find any actual figures, based on surveys and not just estimates, which support HE’s viability of this turning.
2. EFEECT OF DE_TRUNKING THE EXISTING A303 ON THE COMMUNITY
HE’s proposal to de-trunk and stop up the existing A303 approximately1km west of the Sparkford roundabout creates a cul-de-sac which will almost inevitably lead to the closure of the petrol filling station and Mattia cafe. Further west, beyond Howell Hill, the West Camel Bakery and Wayne’s diner businesses will also lose significant passing trade. There will be a high risk of considerable loss of local employment.
Furthermore in the cul-de-sac area both Somerset County Council and Queen Camel Parish Council have concerns about anti-social behaviour in the unoccupied buildings and there will be a danger resulting from unused fuel storage tanks.
I, supported by the three Parish Councils, have suggested two possible solutions to ameliorate the problems:
1. Complete the missing 0.6km section of the de-trunked old A303 to become a local parallel road (LPR)
This is the solution preferred by the local communities as:
it reduces the chances of rat-running through the villages,
continues to provide farmers with better access to their fields and the MOD to its signal station,
effectively maintains the bridleway connection between Gason Lane and Trait’s Lane for NMUs,
enables the businesses to remain open and continue trading, albeit at reduced levels,
allows the additional cost of the 0.6km section to be covered by savings from not constructing and then removing 2.5km of haul roads and access tracks,
eliminates turning heads 62, 63 & 64 and the need for work in Blackwell Road and and
reduces the risk element of the contract (HE have made a £36m allowance) as moving road users would be separated from the construction from the outset to the benefit of road users and contractors alike.
In my opinion, supported by Fairhurst and the three Parish Councils, this would be the best solution, which would be achieved at no cost to the project and would reduce risk.
However, if this solution is not adopted a more limited improvement could still be adopted as described below.
2. Retain the old A303 to Trait’s Lane
Keeping the old A303 open to the north end of Trait’s Lane from Sparkford roundabout would provide less benefit than a full LPR but it would still provide some savings in the contract as described in 1 above. Also much of the cost of reducing the width of the old A303 could be avoided by a series of islands to force traffic to slow.
Fairhurst has proved that the new dual carriageway and a LPR can be accommodated to full DMRB standards through the pinch point by Trait’s Lane without the need to acquire extra land from the MOD. This is demonstrated in Fairhurst drawing No 127642001attached.
An extension of the old A303 to Trait’s Lane is important as the resultant realignment of the dual carriageway in accordance with the radii shown would allow the LPR to be completed at a later date when the new A303 is upgraded to full Expressway standards with farm vehicles being banned. Also it would help keep such farm vehicles out of the existing narrow village roads.
I, with the support of the three Parish Councils, would draw the attention of the Secretary of State for Transport to the fact that the advantages described can only be achieved now by delaying the project sufficiently for HE to submit a revised Development Consent Order (DCO).
The full benefits of the A303 dual carriageway to the South West linking the M3 to the M5 will only be realised when all elements of the the A303 and and A358 schemes from Stonehenge to Taunton are completed. The Stonehenge section and the A358 section are running at least a year behind the Sparkford to Ilchester scheme. Therefore a delay to allow for HE to resubmit a revised DCO for this scheme with an improved Hazlegrove junction and a LPR would be preferred by the three Parish Councils, so securing substantial benefits for the local communities and savings to the public purse.
Bryan G Norman
cc David Warburton,