A303 Stonehenge Scheme: Survey Work For A303 Stonehenge Scheme Enters Next Phase

The next stage of survey work in preparation for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down improvement scheme (near Stonehenge) will focus on Countess roundabout.
For three weeks a night time lane closure will be in place during the week nights only (between 8pm and 6am) for teams to investigate drainage and sewage.
Derek Parody, Highways England Project Director, said: “Our ongoing survey work in no way pre-empts the outcome of the Development Consent Order examination. The surveys are taking place to help bidders with their tenders, ensure there is no delay to the programme and put us in a position to be able to start construction on schedule in 2021, providing consent is given.
“And while the work continues around Countess Roundabout, we’d like to thank local communities and road users in advance for their patience.”
Following these surveys there will be a further six weeks of ground investigations work taking place at Countess Roundabout from the start of November. This work will involve the drilling of boreholes and shallow trial pits with lane closures in place for safety reasons. Highways England is advising drivers to allow extra time for their journeys.
Following the launch of an 18-month procurement process in July, the project reached another milestone at the beginning of October with the conclusion of the six-month DCO examination.


Next steps are for the planning inspectors to review the DCO application, they have three months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, who is expected to make a decision in spring 2020.
To find out more information on the examination process please visit the Planning Inspectorate’s website.
Highways England’s proposed upgrade of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down aims to unlock congestion along this vital route, conserve and enhance the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site, benefit the local and regional economy and tackle the rat-running issue for local communities. Key features of the scheme include:
– A bypass to the north of Winterbourne Stoke with a viaduct over the River Till valley
– A new junction at Longbarrow connecting to the A360
– A 2-mile tunnel through the World Heritage Site past Stonehenge
– A new junction between the A303 and A345 at the existing Countess Roundabout

Onboard and Online: A303 Stonehenge – The DCO Inspection Begins

The preliminary meeting of the Planning Inspectorate inspection team took place at Salisbury Racecourse on 2nd April 2019. It was attended by two members of the Parish Council and a number of villagers representing organisations and/or themselves. As a preliminary meeting, its purpose was to introduce the inspection team, but mainly to outline the process that was to be followed and the timelines involved. As meetings go, the best thing that can be said about it was that it was a turgid affair, most people don’t get too excited by process…

The most depressing thing was that by lunchtime, the word that had barely been mentioned, if at all, was ROAD. What we had heard about in excruciating detail was the archaeology. It’s quite clear, if ever there was any doubt, that more time is going to be devoted to the (claimed) interests of the long-dead than the interests of the living and generations yet to be born.

Anyone wishing to read or listen to an account of that first meeting can do so on the Planning Inspectorate website, here. A certain cure for insomnia.

All the submissions to the Planning Inspectorate on the Development Consent Order can be found on their A303 Scheme web pages. The best starting point is here. This will give you links to the DCO Examination Timetable, documents that have been submitted to the Inspectors and what they call Relevant Representations. There are already over 400 documents logged, some of which run into hundreds, if not thousands of pages. There are also over 200 Relevant Representations. We, like you, are going to have to be selective in what we read, or respond to. We know, already, that we may miss things, so please let us know if there are issues you think the Parish Council need to respond to.

Please understand that there is so much information being generated that we are simply not able to capture it all for you and reproduce it here. The only things we intend to put on the website are those documents generated by the Parish Council. Of course, circumstances may dictate otherwise. We will however, publish “sound bites” from time to time to give you an idea of progress or otherwise.

The next deadline we have to meet is the 3rd May. By then we will have delivered a Written Representation to the Inspectors and a reply to a question that the Inspectors have addressed to the Parish Council. These were based on the points raised in our previous responses, both non-statutory and statutory, to the Highways England Consultation. Councillors agreed to combine their response with that of the Chairman, as both were going to be very similar, the extremely scientific nature of some of the issues and to prevent duplication and unnecessary effort. Where their were differences, the agreed view of the Parish Council had primacy

We will be represented at the Open Floor Hearings during the first session on 22nd May from 10:00am – a brief 5 minute slot at most. It’s an opportunity to highlight some of the bigger issues that will affect the village in perpetuity.

We will continue to represent the Parish at a series of meetings and workshops over the next few months. We also anticipate that the Inspectors may address further questions in our direction. In other words, there is an awful lot of activity going on in which we are all involved. It’s going to be a long summer.

If you are aware of neighbours who don’t have access to the Internet at home, or read the village noticeboard, please can you let them know that access to the Internet is available at Amesbury and Salisbury libraries, where they can access this website at: https://winterbournestokepc.org.uk and the Planning Inspectorate pages at: https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/south-west/a303-stonehenge

A303: Legacies and Benefits

We’ve mentioned a number of times in the past that whilst the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme is primarily about the road itself, there are opportunities associated with the scheme that could provide a wide variety of legacies and benefits; not just for Winterbourne Stoke, but also in the wider corridor affectd by the road. Winterbourne Stoke takes part in a regular Community Forum, along with other Parish Councils and single interest groups, that are trying to identify those things that are the most attractive in terms of legacies and benefits. There are other fora (eg a a Landowners Forum), that run in parallel; also identifying legacies and benefits.

The following two diagrams show the types of things that are being thought about. Some ideas are very general and others highly specific.

The first diagram was started in June last year and has been refined subsequently. You will see there are 5 broad themes that the benefits and legacies ideas seek to support: Community, economy, transport, environment and heritage. A sixth, overarching theme – safety – sits across them all. Highways England are seeking ideas that impact on each of these areas. The second chart shows some of the ideas in greater detail and sometimes, but not always, which group put the idea forward. If no originating group is shown, the idea was usually seen to be of interest to more than one group.

Now whilst the parish council has and will continue to feed ideas into the Community Forum for inclusion into the scheme, including such things as improving north-south and east-west public transport links, environmental planting of new chalk downland, provision of brown signs for local businesses, business development opportunites, etc., we realise we are not the only ones with ideas that might benefit the whole community. So here is your opportunity to get involved.

Highways England have produced a short form shown below:

You can get a PDF version of the form from here.

All you need to do is either:

Download the PDF and give your idea a title and a short description. If you have any idea of likely cost, then please add that. Finally, send the form to the Clerk by email at: clerk@winterbournestokepc.org.uk

Alternatively, print out the PDF form and fill in the title and your idea in a legible script! Finally, pass it on to the Clerk or any Parish Councillor and we will consider whether we can support it and do the rest.


A303 Stonehenge Scheme: Only A Few Days Left To Register As An Interested Party

Don’t forget that you only have a few days left to register as an “Interested Party” for the next stage of the A303 Stonehenge Scheme. As, under the new Development Consent Order process there will be no Public Inquiry, this is the last significant chance you have as an individual, or group, to have your voice heard.

The online registration form can be found here

Registration closes on Friday 11 January 2019 at 23:59

A303 Stonehenge Scheme: Registering As An Interested Party

Please note that the Planning Inspectorate website now carries an online form to allow you to register as an “Interested Party” in the forthcoming Examination of Highways England’s proposal for the A303 Stonehenge Scheme.  The form can be found here.

Although the Parish Council will be registering  on its own account, we would strongly urge any residents of Winterbourne Stoke with particular interests which may not be covered by the Parish Council’s response (details of which will be published on this website asap), to register an interest on their own behalf.

A guide to filling out the registration form can be found here.

Registration closes on Friday 11 January 2019 at 23:59

 

The Planning Inspectorate: A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Notification of Decision to Accept an Application for Examination for an Order Granting Development Consent

The Planning Inspectorate have notified its decision to accept the application for examination of the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme for an Oder Granting Development Consent”

TR010025-000475-TR010025 Notification of Decision to Accept Application FINAL

Please keep an eye on the Planning Inspectorate website, especially if you wish to register as an “Interested Party” for the purposes of the examination process.  The invitation to register should appear in the next few weeks.

Onboard and Online: A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) Scheme Update

It has just been confirmed that Highways England  has applied to the Planning Inspectorate seeking to gain development consent for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme. This is a requirement as the scheme is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

The application now appears on the Planning Inspectorate’s website

The Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether to accept the application for examination. If accepted, it will schedule a timeline of detailed examination of the application, in which stakeholders and the public can participate. We expect examination to begin in early 2019.

Onboard and Online: A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme – Response to Supplementary Consultation

Please be aware that at the Parish Council Meeting scheduled for Thursday 2nd August 2018 at the Stonehenge Visitor’s Centre  there is an agenda item to discuss responses to the three questions posed by Highway England in their Supplementary Consultation on the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme.  The three questions are as follows:

  • to remove the previously proposed link between Byways 11 and 12 in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site
  • to widen the green bridge proposed near the existing Longbarrow roundabout
  • to move the proposed modification of Rollestone crossroads.

If you wish to offer your views to the Parish Council, please come along to the meeting, or send an email/letter to the Parish Clerk (contact details at the foot of this page); ideally to arrive before 2nd August if you wish to have an opportunity to influence the Parish Council response.  We would also be most interested in hearing your views on the clarification on the byways between Yarnbury Castle and Longbarrow Roundabout that Highways England have provided.

Don’t forget that the second and final opportunity to talk with Highways England about these three questions is on Tuesday 31st July in Amesbury.

A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum – Legacy and Benefits

Last night (28th June 2018), the Chairman attended the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum at Antrobus House Amesbury, along with representatives of other Parish Councils and community groups.  Despite there being some sort of football match going on at the same time, the meeting, on the subject of the Legacy and Benefits of the A303 scheme was well attended.  Darren Henry, Wiltshire Councillor for the Till and Wylye Valley was also present.

The session was facilitated by Holly Taylor, the Communications and Engagement Manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme and led by Esther Gordon-Smith, Benefits Lead for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, assisted by Emily Dawson, Legacy Lead for the A303 Stonehenge, A14 and Lower Thames Crossing schemes.  The purpose of the session was to look at the potential benefits and legacies of the scheme, over and above the delivery of the A303 superhighway and how Highways England is approaching them. This is something we have mentioned before and for which we have a forum already set up to capture any ideas you might have on the subject.

We are still awaiting the appointment of an independent chair for these meetings.  Although they have been set up by Highways England (HE), they want to step back and allow the various fora to have independent control; they say they don’t want to lead but to participate.  Clearly though, having an independent chair would be presentationally favourable to HE.  We were also told that the chair of the forum would also represent the forum at higher level meetings – especially those that dealt with funding.  That would be beneficial to the Forum members.

In terms of the recent consultation, we were told that there had been around 5,000 responses (there were around 10,000 for the first consultation).  HE felt the scale of the overall response and the drop in number were in line with similar exercises in the past.

The key thing to come out of the meeting was the fact legacies and benefits, like any other aspects of the programme delivery, need to be formally planned.  The first stages of this process are to be able to identify those legacies and benefits that can achieve the most.  Subsequently, attempts will be made to identify sources of funding and collaboration to take these ideas forward.  It was also important to not that legacies and benefits are unlikely to run in parallel with the road building and are likely to continue after the road opens.  The take home message is that we are all in this for the long haul.

Esther Gordon-Smith unveiled a fairly complicated graphic that captured the sorts of areas where we (All of us!) should be looking for benefits and legacies:

A large part of the meeting was spent identifying ideas that could impact on one or more of these areas.  HE are currently collating these and we will let you have sight of them as soon as we receive them.  However, we don’t have a monopoy on ideas that might contribute to the benefits and legacy Winterbourne Stoke can derive from the construction of the bypass.  Do you have any ideas that you want to share, however off-the-wall, or wacky they might seem?   If you do, pop over to the forum and add them there.  Don’t be shy, you are going to be hard-pressed to dream up anything more off-the-wall than the “writer in residence” for the A14 scheme.

If you look at some of the websites dealing with the legacy and benefits issues raised by the A14 scheme, it rapidly becomes apparent that Cambridgeshire Council has played a significant role in pulling together the local communities.  We don’t yet seem to have that level of participation from Wiltshire Council; notably absent from the meeting last night was Cllr Fleur de Rhé-Philipe, who is the Wiltshire Council Portfolio Holder for Strategic Highways, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, European Structural Investment Fund, Canals and Military-Civilian Integration.  With a portfolio like that, you might expect she would be all over the A303 Legacy and Benefits issue like a rash,  given it involves strategic highways, investment and military-civilian integration.

In the diagram above, one of the key elements is the environment – and Winterbourne Stoke is certainly going to get a huge environmental legacy for good or ill – the road itself, the noise and pollution it brings, the chalk spoil terra-forming the landscape, and who knows what else besides.  Earlier in the month we received an email from Robert and Fiona Turner of Manor Farm showing a photograph of a section of the A14: “to give village an idea of road construction/land take devastation during construction”.

This is, indeed, horrendous to look at, but it does need to be put into context.  The A14 is going to require some 5 million tonnes of construction material to build and 2.5 million tonnes is being taken out of the ground right next to the road.  As the the new road is being built near the Fens, the water level is just below ground level, so to abstract clay, sand and gravel from borrow pits they are having to dewater the ground and then pump the water back into the ground via a series of lagoons.  Whilst doing this, they have to protect the water levels in the River Ouse and the large fishing lake shown at the top right of the photo.  Many of the brown fields are caused by the dewatering and will green up quickly once the dewatering stops.  As far as we are aware, there is going to be no local abstraction of building materials, so HE will be adding to the land surface with the tunnel spoil, rather than removing it. On the other hand, we don’t want to underestimate the scope and the scale of the impacts to Manor Farm.

We wonder if the “white desert” at the eastern end of the Packway might not be a better example of the initial visual impact the scheme here is going to have on the landscape, albeit on a much smaller scale than will be experienced here, but might offer at least an idea of how quickly the adverse effects of construction might disappear into the landscape.

The one thing we can be certain of from this photograph, is that this is the scale of impact – transient or otherwise – that the government is prepared to accept in the case of the A14 and is likely to accept here as well in the case of the A303.

Notes From Annual Parish Meeting: A303 Stonehenge Scheme Public Consultation

Firstly, a huge thank you to all who attended and contributed through observations, questions and comments. All were very useful and identified a host of issues that need consideration by all. Please don’t stop there though, please let us know, through the website, by email, snail mail or any other means that gets the information to us, as soon as you can, to help us put together the Parish Council response and also to advise and influence your fellow villagers (You can leave them here)

Last night illustrated that whilst each of us see many common issues, we also have unique viewpoints and interests that identify issues and concerns not picked-up by others. Airing them publicly tests the level of local interest and support and might influence how others respond to Highways England.

Any other ideas we receive will be aired on this website to give all villagers the opportunity to think about them and add them to their own responses should they so wish. Comments from villagers will serve to advise the Parish Council on the strength of feeling on those issues.

 

The representative of Highways England was Jeremy Damrel who is the Project Director A303 Technical Partner.

His presentation, together with that of Cllr Dr Andy Shuttleworth, Chairman of Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council have been uploaded to the “Recent Documents” section of the village website

Other Highways England figures mentioned during the evening were:

  • Tim Harper – specialises in Byways
  • David Bullock – had appeared at Amesbury Area Board and in context of closure of Salisbury Road, Amesbury

Some key points arising from Jeremy Damrel’s presentation were:

  • The new Longbarrow roundabout will be 8 metres below present ground level to minimise light intrusion into the WHS. The siting of the viaduct is on the narrowest crossing of the Till flood plain
  • The height of the viaduct is determined by the need to allow light underneath for ecological purposes.
  • A minimum of 5.4 metres headroom is needed to allow farm vehicles under the viaduct on byway WST04 (see map above) between Foredown House and Foredown Barn
  • There will be a minimum of 9 metres clearance at the River Till crossing
  • Highways England are legally obliged to deal with all points raised in responses to the public consultation
  • All interested parties should be prepared to register for the 3rd round of consultations later in the year.

Some key concerns identified by villagers, regarding the proposed scheme, from Cllr Dr Andy Shuttleworth’s presentation can be summarised a

  • Misleading, factually incorrect and exaggerated claims made in the Highways England Consultation booklet
  • Height of the viaduct
  • Spoil dumping and phosphatic chalk issues
  • Likely attenuated noise levels in the village rather than the unattenuated ones seen so far – may particularly impact noise at Foredown House in a beneficial way
  • Inappropriate siting of Western Site Compound
  • Many byway issues, particularly need for equestrian route from Yarnbury through village to Longbarrow and the WHS. Need to prevent access to western end of old A303 by ‘undesirables’.
  • The village would like to use some of the area on the old A303, west of Scotland Lodge Farm, on which to site a small village hall and other legacy features of benefit to the villagers of WS
  • Need for equestrian routes west of the village to be opened as part of “advance” works for the scheme to protect Livery at Scotland Lodge, etc
  • Access to the fields to the south-east of Parsonage Down should be via acess off the B3083 ratther than the proposed Green Bridge 1.   A car park for Parsonage Down should be sited at Parsonage Down
  • Concerns over suggestions that HGV’s servicing the chicken farm, south of the A303 on BSJA3, should exit and egress via the new byway created on the route of the old A303 west of Scotland Lodge, through the heart of WS.  No traffic should proceed along the route of the old A303 west of the Western edge of Scotland Lodge Farm and the proposed legacy area.
  • Need for safe crossings of the A360 into the WHS, ideally a Green Bridge, otherwise Pegasus crossings.
  • Re-siting the proposed new Longbarrow roundabouts back eastwards towards the current location, minimising land take from Manor Farm
  • Reviewing byways, restricting some Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs), the need to consider byway exchanges based on proven usage, new byways/equine routes from Shrewton and WS towards the WHS
  • General positive view of proposals for Rollestone crossroads, but it should be an advance measure; ideally the first of the scheme
  • The need to start thinking now about legacy issues (see here )

The Q&A session raised the following issues. Please let us know asap if we have omitted anything vital or got anything wrong and we will amend asap. The height of the viaduct, the siting of the Longbarrow roundabout to the east of the proposed location and the need to ensure the western end of the current A303 did not become attractive to undesirable elements, was of universal concern

  • Concern over proposed land take on Manor Farm. Both temporary and permanent.
  • Ecological damage caused by this in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SCA)
  • Concern that no information about what activity will take place where
  • Concern the WS is bearing the brunt of construction and spoil processing an dumping. Load should be spread.
  • Need for separate sites to store chalk and topsoil
  • No information of siting of worker’s accommodation – feeling that this should be at the eastern end of the scheme, close to Amesbury and all the amenities it has to offer
  • Reconsideration of putting spoil in SPTA
  • Some spoil should be used for sound-proofing embankments north of WS
  • Concern over traffic headlight intrusion on village
  • Confusion caused by HE stays on whether tunnel materials would be produced on-site or shipped in. Some told one thing, some another. Either way, raw materials and components will need to be shipped across the site
  • Suggestions that the construction sites currently placed immediately west of the new Longbarrow roundabout should, instead, be located immediately to the east of this location and towards the western edge of the WHS, both north and south of the current A303. This would minimise the need for land take along the south-eastern edge of Manor Farm where it bits the proposed route
  • Concern over impact of soil dumping on private water supplies
  • Concern that the run-off water treatment ponds at the western end of the scheme were totally disproportionate in size and extent to those already in place at the eastern end. Those at the western end should be re-considered and reduced in size

Jeremy Damrel made a number of other points of interest during the course of the Q&A session:

  • The next consultation, in the Autumn, would be run by a third party
  • Individuals and the Parish Council would need to register with the Planning Inspectorate as an“Interested party” in order to participate
  • HE have not yet decided many of the details being asked for by villagers, planning would continue until the Autumn and some of those questions would be answered for the next stage of consultation
  • Tunneling will be 24/7. Could not answer if processing spoil and dumping would also be 24/7, but admitted it was a logical assumption
  • Red lines (showing the temporary and permanent areas of land-take) will only get smaller (or they are unlikely to get larger)
  • Changes upwards would require further consultation – with involved parties (eg land owners)
  • Some questions posed by villagers would be answered by the Preliminary Environmental Information Report Summary (PEIR – see here)
  • The chairman pointed out that the PEIR summary gave relatively little hard information and villagers should take a look at the full PEIR and its four Appendices which can be found under the Consultation Information section here.
  • Villagers should be aware of two further documents scheduled to be published in the Autum; these are the Site Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) and the Code of Construction Practise (CCA)
  • The Chairman noted that writing to Highways England for clarification or raising question was yielding results, citing the following example provided by Berwick St James Parish Meeting:

RE: A303 ROAD SCHEME – RELEVANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE WORK SITE/TRAFFIC ROUTE DURING CONSTRUCTION OF WINTERBOURNE STOKE BYPASS

A Berwick St James resident requested more information about the work site (on B3083) and traffic route during construction of the Winterbourne Stoke bypass. Attached is Highways England’s response.

We hope we (the Parish Council) have captured your key concerns and issues