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  • #1007

    A303 Public Consultation

      We hope that all parishioners will attend one of the Highways England Public Consultation days to see first hand what is being proposed, particularly for Winterbourne Stoke. We hope you will ALL respond to Highways England by completing a feedback form online or in hardcopy. We would also like to hear from you so that we as a Parish Council are better informed about what is being planned, what we as a village want and what we don’t.

      The big questions are:

      1. Which is your preferred route and why.
      2. Where should the A360 interchange junction be sited.
      3. What can be done to minimise road noise, light pollution and vehicle emissions in the village.
      4. How each route impacts on village businesses, living in the village and the amenity value of the village.
      5. Any other considerations you can think of.

      Over to you to add your thoughts

    #1010

    The following comment was posted by @olivia on 12 Jan 2017:

    One of my greatest concerns is that the proposals for both the northern and southern options show the roads being raised with steep banks on either side and viaducts, which – looking at the YouTube videos – are considerably higher than the tree canopies. This will have a huge impact both visually and in terms of the noise: the southern option at the height proposed would be far worse than we’d dreaded and the noise impact of both options far worse than if the dual carriageway was built following the natural contours of the land.

    If the southern option is chosen, this will slice through land which is listed as an SSSI, completely destroy our tranquil view and the lovely walks between Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick, to list only a few worries which immediately spring to mind. Is the Druid’s Lodge Estate aware of these proposals, which will have a huge negative impact on their sporting activities?

    It is no exaggeration to say that I am horrified by the southern option, which would be catastrophic for us.

    #1020

    As the Public Consultation on the A303 Stonehenge Scheme involving a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke has begun, it seemed sensible that I should put my personal views on which bypass route I preferred into the public domain; simply as a matter of transparency. I hope that the other members of the Parish Council will do the same. For what it’s worth, I would prefer the Northern route and you can find my reason for this here.

    As a Parish Councillor, I’m not putting my personal views on display to try and influence you towards one solution or another, but so that everyone is aware when it comes to the Parish Council taking a view on the issue, that the Parish Council has taken an objective view of both options – despite our personal views. If it turns out that all the Parish Councillors share the same personal view, I would want to involve some of those who share an opposing view in a sub-committee to discuss and examine the evidence supporting both options to formulate a parish consensus.

    The emphasis here is on the evidence. The Parish Council needs to take an evidence-based view of the impact of each of these routes on the village and villagers. Even if 100% of the village was behind a single route, and I’m certain that won’t be the case, we will need to present the evidence in a well-argued and bullet-proof case in our submission to Highways England. Simply saying “100% of the village prefer the X route”, whilst evidence of a sort, is hardly compelling – we need more.

    We will also need to fairly represent substantive minority views. In doing so, we need to identify measures that would reduce the perceived negative impacts of our preferred scheme on the minority and represent those to Highway England and others.

    Even with the preferred scheme, we have seen remarkably little detail so far and things like raised embankments and high flyovers are already ringing alarm bells and we need to identify what these are for both routes and draw up a series of “red lines” with which to confront Highways England.

    So, this isn’t going to be a simple exercise of “We want the northern route”, or “We want the southern route”, we are going to need ALL the village to play its part. I also urge each and every one of you to put in a personal submission to Highways England – if you are old enough to respond, do so. This is the biggest decision you are ever going to be asked to get involved in with respect to the village, PLEASE get involved.

    #1021

    White Rabbit
    Participant

    What exactly do you mean by: “If you are old enough to respond”.

    #1022

    @White Rabbit: I mean exactly that. We have some really bright and articulate youngsters in the village. They are the ones who are going to inherit the legacy we leave with this bypass and I feel they are more than entitled to have a say. If they are old enough to offer an opinion and can fill in an online or offline form, with or without parental assistance, then they should have that opportunity.

    I don’t want you to respond with one reply per household – I want every man, woman and child to have their say.

    Pester your spouse, annoy your partner, berate your kids, harangue your parents until they have given Highways England their views!

    #1963

    I have today added some further information on the likely noise differences and vehicular pollution levels between the northern and southern bypass routes. The assessment was based on 5 years-worth of historical data from Janet Abbott’s excellent weather website.

    Janet’s meteorological instruments collect one reading every 15 seconds, so that’s just over 2 million per year, so in total, we have over 10 million data points. That’s pretty hard to argue against when it comes to which route is going to be the noisiest or bring most pollution into the village. Again, I must stress that this assessment is my personal view of the evidence and not that of the Parish Council – though they will be asked to consider it along with any other evidence presented.

    #1974

    JMD
    Participant

    Having looked at the two Winterbourne Stoke A303 bypass options, and studied the videos of the two routes provided by Highways England I have 3 major concerns about the southern route relative to the northern route:

    1. Noise and pollution levels will be much greater in Winterbourne Stoke from the southern bypass route than the northern route

    My major concern is that there is a significant disparity in the topography of both routes and a significant difference in the lengths of raised embankments used on the northern and southern bypass routes to the west of the Till valley crossing points. Based on the prevailing wind direction (80% of the time from the SSW to SSE) and the topography of the landscape which funnels noise and pollution up the Till Valley from the south into Winterbourne Stoke, I am extremely worried that there will be a significantly greater negative impact on noise and pollution levels in Winterbourne Stoke if the southern route is preferred over the northern route. At peak times, there will be four times as much traffic using the A303 past Winterbourne Stoke than currently use the single carriageway A303, because there will be two carriageways running in both directions and the traffic will be going twice as fast.

    The northern bypass route appears to follow the existing terrain to a much greater extent than the southern route and include minimal raised sections from Berwick Down to Scotland Lodge. Until the dual carriageway crosses the Till on the northern route there is only around 0.6km of raised embankments . Cuttings are used to the north west of Scotland Lodge which should help reduce noise and pollution emissions. In contrast the southern bypass route from Berwick Downs to the River Till viaduct crossing, includes 2.25km of raised sections (4x the amount v the northern route), some of it up to 14m high.

    I am concerned that the increased wind footprint created by the 2.25km of raised dual carriageway to the south and south west of Winterbourne Stoke on the southern bypass route will significantly increase noise and pollution levels in Winterbourne Stoke compared to the northern route.

    2. Adverse impact on the surrounding landscape will be significantly greater from the southern route than the northern route.

    I am also extremely concerned that the extensive raised sections (some of them up to 14m high) on the southern bypass route will have a much greater negative impact on the landscape of the Till Valley between Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James than the northern bypass route which will be much less prominent because it will have fewer raised sections and will largely follow the contours of the surrounding landscape. In those sections on the northern route where there are raised embankments (to the north of Scotland Lodge), I wonder whether the embankment levels could be lowered.

    3. In aggregate more people in Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James living within 1km of the proposed route will be negatively impacted by the southern than the northern bypass route.

    In terms of the negative impact on the two communities (Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick) lying within 1km of the two bypass options, I am concerned that in aggregate, far more residents will be negatively impacted by the southern bypass route than the northern route. A northern bypass route will divert the A303 away from both communities and yet be far enough way from Shrewton to ensure that they would suffer minimal impact from increased noise and pollution. In contrast I believe the southern route would lead to a large increase in noise and pollution in Berwick St James compared to that generated currently by the A303 and in terms of Winterbourne Stoke, the southern route could have a much greater negative impact on noise and pollution than the northern route because 85% of the village is located south of the A303.

    Finally I am concerned that the Highways England Report on the 2 bypass options for Winterbourne Stoke is heavily skewed in favour of the southern option yet provides very little hard evidence (such as reports on the impact of noise levels, details about the heights of embankments and depths of cuttings or panoramic photographs of what each section of bypass will look like against the surrounding landscape from both Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick) to help residents of both villages make an informed decision about which route to choose. I was extremely worried to overhear one Highways England employee remark during the forum at the Manor Barn on Saturday, that she was in favour of the southern route being chosen and yet also appear to admit that no detailed study had been done on the impact on neighbouring communities of noise and pollution levels of the southern bypass route and that such a report would only be conducted after a preferred route was selected! Quite extraordinary and in apparent total contradiction of Highways England’s claim to be entirely impartial about which bypass route should be chosen.

    #1977

    White Rabbit
    Participant

    Whenever Highways England undertake a project on a large scale, they need a support base from which to work, to store equipment and machinery and all sorts of other stuff, not to mention a huge Portakabin city. On big projects there are often more than one. So, whichever scheme you fancy for the village, where on earth are these facilities meant to go? I forgot to ask on Saturday. Did anyone else think to ask?

    I mean, they aren’t going to be putting them in the WHS are they? Around Scotland Lodge Farm perhaps? Maybe the village side of the Longbarrow roundabout. If I get chance, I’ll go to Shrewton on Saturday.

    #1978

    John Summerhayes
    Participant

    I have not yet been able to view the Stonehenge Presentation. However I am very impressed at the way you are questioning the data provided (or rather not provided) by Highways England. They are I suspect “waffling” as it appears that when they are questioned they are unable to provide the evidence to support their assertions. I am equally impressed by the questions/comments of those who have contributed to this Forum. Please keep it up.

    #1979

    JamesDouse
    Participant

    I am part of a family that has lived between the two villages for more than 30 years. While I am now living in London because of work I have retained my close connection with both villages and come back every other weekend. It might be said that I am therefore both someone who is likely to feel the impact of the A303 bypass proposals both as a part-time resident and regular user of the road. I have no doubt that there is a need for something to be done and that the problem has become more and more acute in recent years.
    The proposed bypass of Winterbourne Stoke seeks (according to the Highways England Report) to ‘improve life for local communities’ by ‘reducing the impact of congestion, noise and emissions’ on them. Of the two proposed bypass routes, one (the southern) would seem to remove a blight from one part of the village and put it between two villages and the other (the northern) would move the blight to the side of the village but by doing so create benefit for the greater part of it.
    The southern route, something previously suggested and rejected, has greater impact on homes and businesses – the Druid’s Lodge estate would particularly suffer. The cost benefit analysis notes that the adverse impact of the route on the setting of the conservation areas and listed buildings in the two villages would be limited by ‘the landform, intervening buildings, tree belts and the relatively wooded nature of the existing River Till landscape’.

    However beneficial the topography and trees (mainly beech so not particularly good at screening anything during winter; the evergreens reflect the fact that Druid’s Lodge is a shooting estate – something unlikely to continue with a dual-carriageway in situ), they cannot realistically be considered to counter the impact of congestion, noise and emissions that will be placed between the two villages. It seems remarkable that such a route is being suggested given its impact on the two villages – for Berwick moving a main road much closer and for Winterbourne simply switching the side on which the road passes it (indeed it might be said for Winterbourne that it is passing its problem over to Berwick).

    We already have a sense of the impact of raised sections of the road from the noise that permeates the valley from the section as the A303 leaves Winterbourne Stoke and heads up to Berwick Down. The noise, particularly in the winter with the absence of foliage, is sufficient that it can be heard in Asserton and the side of the village of Berwick St James nearest to the A303. The southern route would bring the road closer to Berwick and includes raised sections. It would have a devastating impact on those living in Berwick while continuing to blight half of Winterbourne Stoke.

    From the perspective of a resident of a house between the two villages the prospect of such a route would be even more devastating. The dual-carriageway would be visible from both the back and front paddocks of our property and would certainly increase the noise levels from traffic (we can already hear the existing road, especially during the winter) as well as be detrimental in terms of emission levels (I note, Dad suffers from asthma). It would transform a rural retreat into a rural blight; all that I have loved about the countryside between the two villages would be destroyed – the river Till with its heron and egret; the red kites; the deer and other wildlife.

    While it was interesting to see video visualizations of what the proposals might look like, they do not give a proper sense of scale or indeed include a simulation of the likely noise (or at night, light pollution) that would result. I do not think they provided a proper sense of just how significant an impact (a sense of the width of the road for example) the development would have. As someone who drives up and down the A303 every other weekend, I have gained a sense of just how wide the route would need to be: not just the two lanes on either side, but room for a central barrier and the need for something akin to hard shoulders. You only need to drive the route after Stonehenge to gain a proper perspective on how wide it would need to be. Most of the side of the hill would be needed; it would bring the road very close to our small row of houses.

    The cost benefit analysis notes that the northern route ‘would still detract from the setting of the conservation area and listed buildings’ and ‘pass close to Parsonage Down’. While accepting that it would merely move an existing blight without entirely solving it, that surely needs to be weighed against the proposal (i.e. the southern route) of simply creating a new blight and impacting two villages instead of one. If passing close to Parsonage Down is given greater weight than the impact of a route on the residents of two villages then that would strike me as a perverse outcome. The Newbury bypass is a good example of a route that had detrimental environmental and conservation impacts but nevertheless went ahead.

    The northern route offers some degree of a solution for an existing problem and moves the road away from houses that are already close to the road; the proposed route would impact perhaps two properties by passing close to the periphery of their land and the local farm would certainly suffer. The southern route would have a wider impact on local residents and on both villages and, no matter how beneficial the landform, would be detrimental to the greater number of people.

    I would also like to note that while the proposal for a bypass has long been mooted (and indeed at times appeared imminent), these proposals (and particularly the southern option) have come as a surprise to many. It seems somewhat surprising that only at such an advanced stage are the proposals being put to both villages and that a decision on the preferred route is to be made in the summer. There has been very little notice – the first presentation of the proposals at the barn followed only three days after the announcement.

    Local residents have long held hope that a bypass would be built; they did not assume that one of the proposed routes would be something worse. There is no easy solution and unfortunately such a project will inevitably impact some homes and families. The southern option stands out for being the option with greatest detrimental impact.

    #1982

    A number of villagers have expressed concern about the height of embankments on both the northern and southern route options. Many have been told that this is to limit the slope of the road to 2% otherwise HGV’s struggle to go up and down them. Anyone who has ever used the A303 knows just how many steep dual and single carriageway sections there are, even in Wiltshire. To get this issue aired in public, I have just fired off a Freedom of Information Act request in addition to asking the A303 Stonehenge Scheme team asking for the following information:

    Please could you provide me with the maximum gradients (maximum incline or decline – eg 4%) of the current A303 between the following points:

    Beacon Hill summit to New Barn
    WInterbourne Stoke Hill to Berwick Down
    Yarnbury Castle to Deptford
    Fonthill Bushes to Chicklade Bottom Farm
    Eastern Entrance of Knoyle Down Farm (Chicklade) to the junction with the A350

    All the points described are readily discernible on UK OS 1:25,000 maps of the area.

    The information should be readily available as as some of it is being used in support of the A303/A30/A358 Corridor Enhancement.

    Answers to this FOIA request are needed in support of contributions to the A303 Stonehenge Scheme PUblic Consultation which ends on 5 March 2017

    If it is simpler and quicker, a datafile of gradients along the entirety of the A303 would be acceptable in MS Excel or CSV format.

    It would be helpful, whichever route you prefer, if you were to visit the link below and express an interest in it, link to it on Facebook and Twitter and write to John Glen MP.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/carriageway_gradients_on_the_a30#incoming-923156

    #1983

    Olivia Dutton
    Participant

    We went along to the HE consultation forum at Antrobus House in Amesbury this afternoon. There wasn’t a huge amount of new information on offer but we picked up some useful nuggets as follows:

    1. Location of the A303 junction to the west of the western portal
    • the exact location hasn’t yet been finalised
    • archaeology isn’t a massive constraint in preventing the junction being shifted further east towards the A360/Longbarrow roundabout
    • the location of the junction and the need to construct a bridge over the existing A303 with a northern bypass route won’t have much impact on overall construction costs – both the southern and northern routes cost similar amounts
    • landscaping of a junction might be slightly easier with a southern route because it wouldn’t be as prominent and would be easier to blend into the surrounding landscape
    • the location of the junction on either the northern or southern bypass options would have minimal impact on rat running through Shrewton (and so shouldn’t be an issue for Shrewton residents)

    2. Traffic management issues during construction of the northern route
    • there wouldn’t be major traffic management issues on the existing A303 resulting from the need to build a bridge over the A303 with a northern bypass option
    • critical construction work could be done at night and traffic diverted during off peak times
    • the section of road for the bridge over the Till would be manufactured offsite and lowered in sections onto the support structures

    3. Level of embankments and depth of cuttings
    • haven’t been determined yet although there are a number of mitigation measures that could reduce the impact on noise/pollution and the landscape
    • the height of embankments and depths of cuttings are to some degree determined by the need to preserve a gradient of 2% on the dual carriageway and accord to highway construction standards, however, these standards can be relaxed if a good case can be made for it
    • gradients of 2% are apparently necessary to allow HGVs to safely navigate ascents and descents, although the inclines and declines on some existing sections of dual carriage way on the A303 far exceed 2%
    • the images on the heights of embankments in the video presentations of the bypass options are misleading in some areas and at variance with the on the ground surveys that HE have carried out. We pointed out that this didn’t help residents make an informed choice about which route to adopt if they are being presented with conflicting information. The environment officer advised that it might be best to assume “a worst case scenario” when making a decision
    • more in depth analysis has been done on the impact of both routes on noise and pollution levels and this will be released by HE in the near future. Until that happens, the environment officer cautioned against commissioning independent surveys
    • the environment expert suggested that although she didn’t favour either the southern or northern route, that it would be easier to mitigate some of the landscaping challenges on the southern rather than the northern route

    4. Severance of communities caused by the precise routing of the W-S bypass
    • emerged as a potentially important point. It was clear that HE officials had no idea of the level of access on fps and bridleways between Berwick and W-S. Quantifying this by measuring the number of W-S and Berwick residents who regularly use the fps between the 2 villages would assist HE in reaching a decision on the preferred route

    5. Impact of both routes on noise and pollution
    • providing local information on wind patterns would be helpful in assisting HE in making a decision on which route to adopt. It was unclear whether wind direction had played any part in the noise impact surveys that HE have already carried out
    • it wasn’t clear how extensive the surveys that HE have conducted on the impact of noise and pollutionare as they seem to have focussed primarily on the precise location of each route rather than the finer detail on embankment levels. cutting depths etc. HE plan to finesse the details at a later stage (ie after the preferred route has been announced) to reflect local residents’ concerns

    6. Location of equipment/construction village during construction
    • unlikely to be in the WHS but beyond that, nothing has been decided.

    7. Method of submitting feedback to HE
    • it is possible for residents to supplement responses on the official feedback hardcopy forms with detailed arguments supported by photos/graphs/tables and also submit powerpoint presentations by post. Residents can submit more than one lot of feedback

    8. The next 7 weeks is key

    • We got the impression that the next 6 weeks is vital in helping shape the decision on which of the two bypass routes to adopt. Once the preferred route has been announced in the summer it is extremely unlikely that that decision will be subsequently changed. Getting W-S and Berwick residents along to as many of the presentation forums as possible to express their views verbally to HE officials could be helpful in determining which route is adopted. If HE are deluged with a stream of residents supporting one of the bypass options, it could help sway their final decision to reflect residents’ concerns.

    #1984

    JMD
    Participant

    Trump Time – The Living and the Dead

    Privileged though we are in Winterbourne Stoke to live within a stone’s throw of Stonehenge and its associated World Heritage Site (WHS) status, it is surely paradoxical that preserving the remains of the dead sometime seem to take precedence over the needs of the living. Indeed the dead sometime seem as though they are the ones framing the debate on the route of the Winterbourne Stoke A303 bypass!

    Of course Stonehenge is an iconic historic site of global historic significance on a par with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Of that there is no debate. Of course, we are reliably informed, it is a one of the country’s top tourist attractions, each year drawing thousands of visitors from around the world.

    What is more problematic (some would say morally wrong) is that the status of the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge appears to be framing a significant part of the debate on the route of the bypass to the north or south of Winterbourne Stoke. Archaeological concerns appear to be “trumping” considerations such as the impact of a bypass at Winterbourne Stoke on the local residents, the environment and the surrounding landscape to the north and south of Winterbourne Stoke.

    The need to preserve the historical integrity of the WHS appears to have determined the location of the western tunnel portal of the A303 which has, out of the blue, in turn brought a bypass route to the south of Winterbourne Stoke into play. Meanwhile, recent archaeological discoveries to the west of the Long Barrow Roundabout seem likely to determine the location of the A303 junction on the northern bypass route and influence groups are pushing for the WHS to be extended from its current western boundary with the A360, to the banks of the River Till!

    In order to return Stonehenge to its pristine prehistoric state, free of traffic noise, air pollution and a blighted landscape, it seems an awful lot as though Stonehenge’s problems are being exported 4 miles west to Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James. The Americans call it “kicking the can down the road”. It sometimes feels as if preserving the lives of the dead take priority over promoting the interests of the living – in Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James that is!

    But every cloud has a silver lining. Even if the pub and garage in Winterbourne Stoke close (as seems inevitable) once a bypass is opened, even if the village is blighted with increased traffic noise and pollution if a southern bypass route is chosen , even if you’ll no longer be able go for a walk down the Till valley between Berwick St James and Winterbourne Stoke without hearing the constant drone of traffic noise, even if your local resident’s card no longer enables you to get 2p off a litre of petrol at the garage once it has closed, even if there are no more Bingo nights at the Solstice Rest once it has closed, at least there will be one benefit from living in Winterbourne Stoke or Berwick St James: you’ll still be entitled to free family entry to Stonehenge. Its “Trump Time” as the saying goes, for the dead over the living!

    #1985

    Forum participants may wish to know that the Berwick St James website has opened up its own Forum which can be found here. They also have a dedicated Facebook page here, though nothing on it as of 09:35 on 19th January.

    Whichever route option you prefer, these two websites are worth keeping an eye on as they may suggest ways which to influence the Highways England decision either way.

    #1987

    The Forum admin team are only too aware that this subject is highly emotive and passions are already getting raised. Please be aware that we are and will continue to monitor Forum contributions and will moderate any that appear to be offensive, haranguing, trolling or belittling those who may hold a different position to your own.

    We want to capture the

      concerns

    of villagers, whichever route they might favour, so that the Parish Council can represent these concerns for both routes to Highways England in a collective response.

    Regardless of this, we again implore you to make a response of your own to the consultation. Do not rely on others doing the job on your behalf. Have your say and leave formal feedback at: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/a303-stonehenge/

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