CABINET has agreed to go ahead with proposals for the controversial A350 Melksham bypass.

Following the second round of public consultation, held between June and August, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet agreed to proceed with the scheme but changes would be made.

Moving forward there will be a further third consultation on the bypass – this time focusing on specific details of the proposal such as public rights of way.

Dr Mark McClelland, cabinet member for transport said: “We will also consider the outcome of National Highways’ current north-south connectivity study, which looks at routes between the M4 and the south coast and isn’t expected until summer 2022.

“If the scheme is successful at the outline business case stage, then it is right to look again to refine and develop that route based on the feedback from residents and parish councils, and that’s what we agreed today at cabinet.”

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During the cabinet meeting (November 30) Andrew Nicholson, a committee member for Wiltshire Climate Alliance said that 52 per cent of consultees did not feel the need for the proposed bypass and 67 per cent said the emerging route was not suitable.

“This is starting to look like the same kind of expensive fiasco as the Westbury Eastern Bypass, which had to be aborted after losing its credibility at a Public Inquiry,” continued Mr Nicholson.

“How will the Council hold up against the National Trust, other landowners, and local objector alliances, in the face of such a low level of support?

He added that for the same cost the council could fund 10,000 separate local and strategic improvements for active travel

Cllr McClelland said that the consultation was not an opinion poll or a referendum on the proposed bypass.

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The scheme, he added, would improve air quality, reduce congestion and would be an economic boost for the county.

He said that there are risks and concerns but that the council has a responsibility to push on with infrastructure to benefit the community and the local economy

Cllr Phil Alford, who represents Melksham Without North & Shurnhold said the train station had become cut off from the rest of the town and the bypass would improve the accessibility.

Deputy leader, Laura Mayes said she could see the anxiety of those living close to the proposed route but there was a need to look at the bigger picture

“If we turn this down, we’ll be blamed for this for the next 20 years,” she said

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Melksham mayor, Jon Hubbard said congestion in the town was a real issue and the scheme would help.

It is considered that the proposed bypass, should the road ahead be smooth for the council, would be built and opened by mid-2028.

The council will now prepare a carbon management plan before submitting its outline business case to the Department for Transport pending the results of the M4 to Dorset Connectivity study.

If the scheme is then the third-round of consultation on the route would happen later in 2022.