Council to discuss its response to A358 plans

Councillors will next week discuss Somerset County Council’s response to the consultation on the dualling of the A358.

The draft response, which will be considered by the Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, is calling for more information from Highways England (HE) before it can reach any firm conclusions on its preferred option and details of the route.

Although strongly supportive of the need to improve the route, the response says “there are a number of important issues which will require resolution”. It calls on HE to ensure that the concerns of local residents around the creation of a new junction on the M5 are addressed in the detailed design.

The Council is a consultee on the HE scheme to dual the A358 between the Ilminster roundabout and the M5. A formal response from the authority is due to be sent before the end of the month.

Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, said: “We have long championed and lobbied for the upgrading of this key strategic route between Andover and the South West, because it will be central to the future economic growth of this county and the South West, but the scheme has to be right.

“This is a Highways England scheme and there will be more consultation, but we intend to use this initial response to make it clear that we need more information and that the concerns of residents must be listened to”.

In its draft response, the Council strongly reiterates its support for improvements to the A358/A303/A30 corridor which will bring important economic benefits for Somerset and the South West.

The County Council states that it would have much preferred to have seen consultation on all four of short-listed options, and that more information is needed for it to reach firm conclusions about the approach and detailed design features. It requests further traffic and flood modelling to inform the next round of consultation.

It also says more consideration should also be given to the idea of a link road between the proposed new ‘expressway’ and the planned employment site next to junction 25.

The response urges HE to provide more information about anticipated road layouts for the planned Junction 25A so local residents and others can fully understand the potential impacts, particularly around noise and traffic. It asks that HE to keep an open mind about the precise location of a new Junction 25A and to decide this only after discussions that include the local community and are based on fully understood impacts.