WORK has begun on a plan that could see a £30 million Melksham bypass built, in a bid to ease traffic flows on the A350.

Although at an early stage, the council is preparing an evaluation of Melksham’s traffic issues that could be submitted to government by July.

There is no information on where the bypass would be, but local people believe the logical route would be to build a road around the edge of town from the Sandridge Common side, to link with the A350 at Beanacre. Cabinet member for highways Councillor Philip Whitehead believes work could begin as early as 2020.

The plans have been welcomed by both Melksham Town and Parish Without councils, who feel a bypass would ease traffic congestion.

A bypass was identified as a priority scheme by Swindon Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP), which decides which grants are sent to government.

Cllr Whitehead said: “The A350 has been identified as a strategic route from the M4 to the south coast and we are investigating solutions to any known significant bottlenecks.

“SWLEP has identified a bypass for Melksham as one of its priority schemes, and we are preparing a submission for the SWLEP Board ahead of a potential bid to the Department for Transport for funding to develop the business case.

“Even if the bid is successful, the Department of Transport would have to agree the business case before awarding funding and this is several years away.”

The cabinet member suggested that it was not certain whether SWLEP would accept the council’s plans and there was only a one in 10 possibility it would then be further accepted by government.

He highlighted that although the bypass is on the cards the expected timescale would be 2020 to 2025 or even later.

Melksham Without Parish chairman Richard Wood said: “We welcome this news. Anyone who has travelled on the A350 and put up with the traffic at peak times knows that it is chock-a-block.

“This would cut down a lot of that traffic and might do away with the accident blackspot on the A350.

“It is what we have been looking for for a long time. There were plans for something similar to this for years but it is great to hear Wiltshire Council is putting forward serious plans.

“We see it as relieving a real congestion hotspot but it is up to the council to make a good case for it.”

Melksham Mayor Terri Welch said: “It would be very welcome as we all know the problems along the A350 and what needs to be done.

“If this road is to continue to carry this volume of traffic it does need to be changed.

“For many years Beanacre has been suffering from serious traffic issues.”

“The A350 is a major north to south route and there are parts of it that are not fit for purpose.”