A £129 million cash boost for more dual carriageway on the A350 around Chippenham and 400 more parking spaces at the railway station has been welcomed.
The Government investment will mean the congested A350 will be made into dual carriageway from the Morrisons roundabout all the way down to the Sainsbury’s roundabout on the A4 Bath Road junction.
Plans for the station include building two multi-storey car parks on each side of the line, increasing parking capacity by 50 per cent from 800 to 1,200 spaces.
Business secretary Vince Cable launched the Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Deal on Monday. The Government will invest £129m in the county between 2015 and 2021, with £12.8m being spent in the first year.
The deal commits £7.1m towards the extra dualling of the A350.
Work already underway between Jacksom’s Lane and Morrisons is being funded by £1.9m from the separate Government’s Local Pinch Point Fund and is expected to be finished by the end of this year.
The money was granted in response to a strategic economic plan by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership in March, which said improving congestion and road links would boost the town’s economy.
Chippenham MP Duncan Hames said: “Dualling the A350 around Chippenham will relieve congestion here and also help facilitate the development of a higher education centre and digital community in Corsham.”
But he warned that the road improvement should not be seen as a substitute for an Oxford-Bristol rail service calling both at Chippenham and a re-opened Corsham station.
“I hope that the funding allocated to Swindon and Wiltshire beyond 2016 in this deal can play a part in making this happen,” he said.
Chippenham town councillor Bill Douglas said the improvements would remove the need for lorries to use Malmesbury Road to avoid congestion.
He said: “Chippenham has become the main access for wagons from London to the southern part of the county, big thunderous things.
“Malmesbury Road residents will be relieved by that.”
In the deal there is also £16m earmarked to improve the retail offering at Chippenham station, its accessibility and its connections with other modes of transport.
Tom Jacques, chairman of Chippenham Vision, said: “It’s about allowing everything to be connected together. It’s important there’s links across the railway line so people can leave from whichever side car park on the town centre side.”
He has spent the last couple of years coordinating with the LEP and Network Rail on a plan for the station hub. He said: “We put all the work in not having full expectations so the fact that this has gone through makes it all worth it.”
The volume of rail passengers is expected to rise by 40 per cent with new housing developments, line electrification, the growth of Dyson and the new military training college at Lyneham.
North Wiltshire MP James Gray said: “I particularly welcome the A429 Malmesbury Access scheme which will improve traffic flow and enable access to a new research and development centre and technology campus at Dyson’s Malmesbury site.
“And also the plans to make the section of the A350 north of Chippenham from Badger Roundabout to Chequers Junction into a dual carriageway.”