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

Highway England Drop-In Events: Not Quite Your Last Chance To Attend

STOP PRESS: Highways England informed us last night that, due to the inclement weather causing two of the drop-in sessions to be cancelled, two more would be scheduled; one in Mere and one in Salisbury.

The new event at Mere will be held at Mere Lecture Hall, Salisbury Street, Mere, BA12 6HE, 14.00 to 20.00, Friday 13 April 2018.

The new event at Salisbury will be held at St Paul’s Church, Fisherton Street, Salisbury, SP2 7QW, 11.00 to 17.00, Saturday 14 April 2018.

You can also go to the following event this coming Friday

Friday 23 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Antrobus House 39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH

Importantly, the deadline for receipt of responses has been extended to Monday 23rd April to compensate.   Highways England advise that all other scheduled milestones will remain the same.

Finally, you will have an opportunity to raise issues again with Highways England staff at the Annual Parish Meeting on Monday 26th March 2018 at 6:00 pm in the Education Suite of the Stonehenge Visitor’s Centre.  The agenda can be found here.

The meeting will start with a 20 minute presentation by Highways England to set the scene, followed by the Chairman highlighting any issues relating to the scheme (and there are several) that have already been brought to our attention and that will be referred to in the Parish Council response.

From that point onwards, the meeting will be opened up to Electors of the parish. We hope you will come along and participate. We hope it may help you identify issues that you want to raise with Highways England yourselves in your own responses to the statutory consultation.

We strongly urge you to attend so we can gain a better idea of the collective view of villagers.

Having Problems With Highways England’s e-Response Form?

Having received a few adverse comments about the A303 Stonehenge Response Form,  which Highways England had provided in PDF form, we did a bit of digging and had a play ourselves.   We don’t think it’s a particularly friendly format and some of you may find it difficult to near-impossible to edit with your available computer system and software; especially if you are an Apple user.  Most of you will be unable to attach photographs, diagrams, charts or tables should you wish to do so, without buying specialist software.   We didn’t think that was either fair or sensible.

Consequently, we produced a version of the document as an MS Word file which you can get here.  Apple users can get a Pages version here.

We have checked with Highways England and have been assured by Heather Price, the A303 Stonehenge Correspondence Officer, that you can use these templates to produce your reponses, provided you save it as a PDF file when you have finished editing it.  This is simple to do both in MS Word and Apple Pages.

Please let us know if you have any issues with either the original PDF format, or the two templates we have provided.

Pedestrians, Yes! Cyclists, Yes! – But What About The Horses?

When the Chairman of the PC attended the inaugural meeting of the A303 Stonehenge Community Forum, he met Myra Bennett, the British Horse Society’s County Access Officer for Wiltshire, and they agreed to meet up earlier this week for further discussions, as it seemed likely that their interests might align with those of the village and many of the villagers.

Since that meeting, Myra has provided us with an open letter, which can be found here in the “Notices” section of the website.  If you walk out of the village, ride a bike, or ride a horse, we would strongly suggest you have a look at what the British Horse Society has to say.

On the Wiltshire Council mapping above, footpaths are in purple, byways are brown, restricted byways in red and bridleways in green.

One of the greatest problems we have, as a village split by the A303, is safe access onto byways.  There are no byways that leave the heart of the village and head south.  The only strictly legal options in that direction, are to head out east or west onto the A303, before cutting back south on byway WSTO6A,  past Hill Farm, or south along the B3083 towards Berwick St James; less than ideal for cyclists – especially children – or equestrians.

Options for going north are not a lot better.  You first have to negotiate the A303 – difficult when there is a lot of traffic and dangerous when it is speeding through.  You have three alternatives – of sorts.  You could try byway WSTO3, from just oppoite the northern end of the B3083 Berwick road to a few hundred yards up the B3083 to Shrewton – good luck!  You could ride north on WSTO4, past Foredown House and onto either byway WSTO6B, or byway/bridleway WSTO5, north westwards Shrewton, but both these routes bring you out on the A360 at Rollestone – hardly a relaxing place.  The truly brave (some might say foolhardy) pedestrian, cyclist or horse rider, might – once they have found a route to WSTO6A, try crossing the A303 east of the village, through the small gate in the hedge on the northern side and onto WSTO6B which joins on to the two previously mentioned routes to the northwest.  Whilst you occasionally see a walker using this route and rarely, a mountain biker,  we’d never spotted a rider in over 30 years,  until this morning.  It was heart stopping to see a clearly spooked horse being led across to the south, with a juggernaut bearing down from the east at high speed…

Given all of the above, plus the fact that all new road schemes are meant to be equestrian friendly, you’d have though that Highways England might have tried a bit harder than they have.  We’ve prepared the map above based on the one provided by Highways England in the consultation document.  We have identified paths and byways using the Wiltshire Council numbering scheme in red and key points at junctions etc, with blue letters.  You can get copies of this map here as a PDF File and here as a PNG file.  We hope you will use this as a common scheme in your own responses to Highways England.  It will also make it easier to discuss things with other villagers.

Here are a few points to ponder when you are responding to the public consultation:

1. Although a pedestrian and cycle route is proposed between points A and T on the map above, along the course of the “old” A303.  Highways England don’t propose it being available for equestrians.  It needs to be a restricted byway;

2. They propose to run this pedestrian and cycle track on the northern side of the “old” A303 from P to S – the southernmost of the two new roundabouts at Longbarrow.This means that you would have to cross the “old” A303 into the village right next to what is going to be a very busy roundabout; not very clever.  This could be avoided completely by moving the footpath to the southern side of the A303, reducing the width of the current road to achieve traffic calming and avoid the need for a land take.

3. Worse still is the proposed crossing of the A360 to join up with Green Bridge No.4 and into the World Heritage Site.  According to Derek Parody of Highways England, it’s going to be at level, no underpass or overpass.  So, we are going to be dodging the traffic travelling at high speed to and from the direction of Salisbury – if that is allowed to happen.

4. We’ve also been made aware of the likelihood that the livery at Scotland Lodge could be cut off from its usual exits to points north during the construction phase – possibly for several years.  As it stands, and with no alternative that we are aware of offered, that seems completely unacceptable.  One option might be to construct the new proposed byway from A to G over the proposed Green Bridge 1, then from G to D ,as an “advance work” to give Scotland Lodge, and others, a hacking route out of the village before their northern exit is closed off.

5.  That said, the long-term use of the proposed Green Bridge 1 is likely to prove highly contentious.  It may act as a magnet to a host  of undesirables from outside the village.  On the other hand, the old section of the road from A-B might be a potential site for some legacy features for the village and wider community.  Lots of opportunities for discussion here and many issues to consider.  For instance, how do farmers get to fields north of the A303 if there is no permanent crossing at A to G?  One option might be an entrance off the B3083 at H and a track between H and G.  Of course, Green Bridge 1 is also meant as a bat crossing…

6. There’s then the issue of BSJA3 which currently opens onto the A303 at E.  That clearly isn’t going to be acceptable. So, what happens to farm traffic wanting to join the A303?   Presumably it will be expected to travel west from E to D at Yarnbury Castle, but what then?

7. Already, crossing from SLAN3 at D, north onto BSJA4 is very dangerous – even with a central divide.  The route is used regularly by pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, farm-vehicles, the Army, off-road motorcycles and 4x4s. The traffic on the A303 is currently either at a standstill or travelling at high speed, but in the future it will (hopefully – given all the grief we are going to have to suffer!) all be travelling at high speed.  Consequently, given the need to cross north to south and the danger of doing so at grade, a proper crossing is needed.  One option might be to close both exits onto the A303 and move Green Bridge 1 further to the west from G to D; thereby solving two problems.

This is only scratching the surface and there are likely to be many more issues associated with paths, byways and bridleways.  Villagers: please use the forum pages to discuss these issues or to add more to the list. You can also come along to a Parish Meeting in March (details to be announced soon) to air your views.

Onboard and Online: A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum

Last week, Highways England launched the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum at a meeting in Amesbury.  This is one of a number of fora that have been set up, others we understand are for local landowners, farmers, businesses , etc.  The Community Forum covers not only Parish Councils, but established groups like the British Horse Society, the Bustard Trust,  the Campaign for the Preservation of the Lower Till Valley and the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group that operate in the area of the new road scheme.  Darren Henry as the Wiltshire Council representative for the Till and Wylye Valley is also a key part of the group.

The forum is designed to act as an information conduit from Highways England to the local community and vice-versa.  It looks as though it will address virtually anything and everything that is raised by the community, including issues that arise after the formal consultation period has ended.  It will deal with legacy issues, that will be very important to Winterbourne Stoke,  and which don’t form part of the formal DOC process.

Time will tell if this is a realistic goal, whether it’s overly ambitious. That said, it was quite clear from the tone of the meeting that community representatives want to use the forum to hold Highways England to account.

The forum will not generate minutes, but there will be action points arising from the bi-monthly meetings.  The first meeting was largely taken up with representatives identifying their areas of interest and concern and establishing how the forum would move forward.

The forum is likely to be long-lived – it was suggested that it might be needed until 2026 or later and its current terms of reference can be found here.

If you wish to help us to contribute to the Community Forum, please either join the website forum and add your thoughts to that, send an email or letter to the clerk, or speak to a Parish Councillor.

We are particularly interested in the following things, over and above the actual design and mitigation features of the new road:

What could Highways England do in advance of, and during, road construction to minimise the impact to us and other local communities?

What are our key legacy issues (eg. village infrastructure, non-vehicular connectivity with other local communities and areas such as the World Heritage Site).

There may be other topics that are of general, or specific interest that we have overlooked, so please get your thinking caps on!

 

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