A consultation has begun about plans to dual a stretch of the A358 linking the South West to London preventing queues and providing an economic boost for the region.
National Highways has launched a consultation on the planned upgrade of the A358 which will see a single lane stretch of carriageway between the M5 at Taunton and the Southfields roundabout, upgraded to dual carriageway.
The proposed scheme would considerably benefit road users, local communities and businesses. The aim is to improve the capacity of the road to reduce delays and queues that occur during peak hours and at key times of the year, such as the height of summer.
It would also support economic growth, facilitating growth in jobs and housing by providing a free-flowing and reliable connection between the South East and the South West.
The upgrade would also make the road safer, by providing additional capacity and reducing driver stress. The scheme also aims to improve routes for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
It is also intended to protect the environment and seek opportunities to improve it, minimising any unnecessary impact of the scheme on the surrounding natural and historic environment and landscape.
National Highways aims to work with communities to reduce the impact of the road, and look for ways to improve people’s quality of life, make journey times more reliable and resilient; and said that by providing more capacity it will become easier to manage traffic when incidents occur.
Katherine Liddington, senior project manager for the A358 scheme, said: “We plan to build approximately 8.5 miles of new dual carriageway, which will considerably improve road safety, reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity for road users and local communities, while unlocking economic growth in Somerset and beyond.
“Since announcing our preferred route for the project in 2019 we have been working to refine the preliminary design for the new road. We’ve made some improvements to our proposals, which will improve access safety to local roads and reduce the impact on communities, the environment, and the local landscape.
“As part of the planning process, we would like to hear your thoughts on our proposed design. This will help refine our preliminary design before we submit our planning application in 2022.”
Rebecca Pow, Tory MP for Taunton Deane, said: “The A358 upgrade has been a long time coming and a great deal of progress has been made to reach this stage.
“It is as important as ever that the A303/A358 corridor is improved as this is vital to unlocking the region. I hope as many people as possible will take part in the consultation.”
Paula Hewitt, Somerset County Council’s lead director for economic and community infrastructure, said: “The A358/A303 is an incredibly important main transport artery for Somerset and this major project is vital for future growth in the county.
“We’d encourage everyone to get involved in the consultation and have their say on the scheme – this is your chance to make your voice heard.”
The consultation runs from October 12 to November 22, 2021 with feedback helping National Highways develop its planning application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to be submitted in 2022.
A DCO is required for all nationally significant infrastructure projects and will allow for the Planning Inspectorate to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will decide on whether development consent should be granted for the proposed scheme.
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Visit an online exhibition here: www.highwaysengland.co.uk/a358-taunton-to-southfields –
There will be nine online Q/A events, and three public consultation events at:
Taunton Racecourse – Tuesday, October 19, 2pm – 8pm
Monks Yard – Saturday, October 23, 11am – 6pm
Holiday Inn Taunton – Wednesday, November 3, 11am – 6pm
For a free consultation booklet, feedback questionnaire and non-technical summary of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report call 0300 123 5000 or email [email protected]
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