Northern Relief Road

Councillors Des Moffatt and Steve Wakefield attended the meeting of Haydon Wick Parish Council on 18th September and explained the attitude of Rodbourne Cheney Councillors to the Northern Relief Road.

Des took along an AO plan of the preferred line to connect Thamesdown Drive and the Great Western Way.. He talked about: where will it go? How much will it cost? What effect will the Diamond forest have on it? Is it agreed?

“The map shows two potential routes – the red route favoured by the Council’s consultants, Halcro, which goes to the north of the Gloucester line over the fishing lagoons (which I know well, – my children having been banned from playing there!), and which I am informed by Mr Pope, centurion of Haydon Wick parish amd formerly of Harcourt Road, are the last remaining elements of the original canal. Which were widened at some time for flood alleviation I presume.

Our preferred route, marked in green, is for the road to underpass the Gloucester line and connect to the Great Western Way at Barnfield next to the B&Q superstore. We prefer the green route for two reasons. Firstly, there is little point dumping traffic at the traffic jams on Bruce St Bridges, and secondly to gain the support of the people of West Swindon. The multi-lane roundabouts will give those joining at Barnfield priority over those joining at Bruce Street from the North (our experience with the Churchward rat run taught us that) and the road we propose gets people to to the west and in particular junction 16 of the M4 much better than Mead Way and Whitehill Way.

I give warning that the £100 million price tag is chaff designed to undermine the desire for the road by those who might have to raise the funds to pay for it. Other much longer roads cost much less: even the horrifically expensive Newbury bypass cost only just over 100 million, and current estimates of a 3.3 mile bypass at Bedale near where my son lives in Harrowgate are 42 Million, with only 6 million of it from the local authority. There is a current project in Norwich for a duel carriageway road called funnily enough the Norwich Northern Distributer Road of 8.7 miles and the most recent estimate is £90.7 million.

Our Northern Distributor Road has an estimated length of 1.3 miles and no junctions. However getting under the Gloucester line will not be cheap, especially if we are to avoid an S bend. Beware of amatures including me making grand pronouncements about how much the road would cost and treat other politician’s estimates with the same caution, and indeed officials with an axe to grind. Nobody knows for sure until the surveys are done but we can be pretty sure it is not in the region of the stated £100 million. It has never been the intention of Swindon or even the developers to pay for this road, it is a matter for government and if we, Swindon, are to take all these additional houses government has to stump up.

There will be no effect on the road line from the diamond forest; officials have assured us of that having discussed it amongst themselves. A positive effect of the forest will be reduced flooding since forests do slow the water run off from the land.

Yes it is agreed, all bar paying for it. We had a recent full Council decision to that effect. There may be some back sliders worried about the cost but it is Council policy. When it will happen, now that is a whole different question. I and others are determined to get the Thamesdown Drive to Barnfield Link as Swindon No 1 priority for infrastructure investment.

In March this year all local authorities were invited to prepare infrastructure projects for 2015 and beyond. I and others will be pressing for the Thamesdown Drive to Barnfield link to be Swindon’s No I project.”

Councillor Wakefield commented that when the planned improvements are carried our on the Gloucester line that we must ensure that an underpass is created to facilitate the proposed Thamesdown Drive Barnfield Link.