Dorset Council staff are now working on detailed proposals for a new road to divert extra traffic from Shaftesbury. Alfred heard why the Enmore Green Link Road project is unusual.
When, and if, new estates are developed as part of the approved plans for Gillingham’s Southern extension, there’s likely to be extra pressure on Shaftesbury’s roads. That’s why project engineer Emma Baker and her colleagues in the Highway Improvement Team of Dorset Council are planning a new route for drivers. “We are looking at 2,000 new properties being built. There will be an increase in traffic on the B3081 and the A30,” said Emma.
She added that New Road, which flows under the A30 overpass, and Bleke Street won’t be able to cope with those additional volumes trying to access the A30 or A350 at the Ivy Cross roundabout. “We are looking at creating this link between the two main roads to reduce the amount of traffic that needs to go into Shaftesbury and along the road.”
Emma says that the new Enmore Green Link Road’s route is ‘fairly fixed’. It would leave the B3081 Shaftesbury Road between Old Brickyard Farm and Hawkers Hill Farm, opposite the electricity substation. It would cut across the fields and would join the A30 near Long Cross, to the west of the turnoff off for New Road.
The Highways Team has been given money by the EU-funded Dorset LEP to pay for their detailed planning. “We have been awarded £200,000 to design the scheme. It will be at a point where it is ready to submit for planning when we have funding available to build,” says Emma.
Until Emma’s team finish this design project, they don’t know how much budget would be required to build the link road. “We don’t have that figure yet because we are still in the design process,” she said.
Emma says you can’t estimate how much a new road would cost to build per metre, for instance. There are many variables. “It very much depends on the ground conditions, what sort of drainage you require, how much you need to dig out and the amount you need to fill to bring the levels up to where you need it,” she explained.
And Emma says the project requires work with other teams within the local authority. “We’ve been working closely with our landscape officers and ecology team to get a route that suits both of their requirements, whilst mitigating as much of the impact as possible.”
Emma says that if there are significant, rare or protected species along the suggested route, then their presence would have been flagged up at this point. More checks will follow when the scheme is ready. “The road would have to go through planning, which will require environmental statements to be undertaken that look at all the aspects of how the road will affect the local area, including ecology, environmental issues, archaeology, noise and traffic surveys,” said Emma.
Sometimes new link roads can become boundaries for housing expansion. If that happened with this proposed road then many residents might be concerned that Enmore Green’s rural identity could be lost. Emma says she knows of no plans for housing to be built alongside this new highway. “The proposals are that it will be a link road. In terms of the future, I am not aware of anything. That is something that would be dealt with by our Planning Department.”
Although the work in producing detailed plans of the road and costings has begun, Emma is uncertain when the link road will be built, if at all. She says it is unlikely that the scheme will start in the next year or so. “We are not currently aware of any pots of money that we would be able to bid for the scheme at this stage. The timescales are very much unknown. It could be in the next few years. It could be ten years down the line.”
Emma says getting an understanding of costs now will mean Dorset Council could act quickly if budgets to build the road are found. “It will speed up the process of getting the scheme on the ground rather than starting from scratch, when a pot of money becomes available,” she said.
Emma says it’s a highly unusual situation to have an ‘oven-ready scheme’ like this. She is aware of no other projects that have been costed before they had funding in place. “It’s normal that we get a pot of money and then design a scheme from there. We have a lot of schemes on our priority list that we would like to do, but they are not at the point where improvement has been designed. This is a special case for which we’re able to put some money forward, so we are ready to have it built should the money become available,” she said.
Emma says there’s nothing for members of the public to do at this stage but there will be opportunities for feedback through consultation, if the money is found. “We do have some information on our scheme webpage on Dorset Council’s website. There is a plan that shows the proposed route,” said Emma.
You can see details here.