A358 Comments Welcomed

Here are some notes we intend to include in the SSBA response to the National Highways consultation on the dualling of the A358 between Taunton and Ilminster.  Details of the proposed scheme can be found on the A358 Taunton to Southfields website.

There will be 9 crossing points in the 8.5 mile (13.6 km) length of the new carriageways.  Some minor using roads and some dedicated NMU routes.

General points:

  • National Highways use the term ‘WCH’ and it means walking cycling and horse riding. They have no remit, it appears, to provide for carriage drivers.  They may be open to designating these routes as restricted byways, but we need to keep reminding them that these routes should be for all vulnerable road users, and not designated as cycle tracks.
  • The Herepath is a vital resource and honeypot for riders.  This is a 13.4 mile off road loop passing through several villages, Staple Fitzpaine, Curland, Bickenhall etc. on the west of the A358.  Horse riders from the east need to continue to be able to access it. 
  • Fivehead River underpass – Currently there is an unofficial (it was permissive and may still be) link under the existing A358 alongside the Fivehead River culvert. The current design is to join the two ends of Bickenhall Lane with an overbridge, which is an excellent idea. However, many riders will still try to use the more direct route through the under height channel with the Fivehead River.  We believe that if there was enough demand, the designers might consider a ‘departure from standards’, and designate a horse crossing here, and install mounting blocks.  It will not suit all riders, but will help so many, and we don’t want to lose what we already have.
  • For the scheme to receive approval, and therefore go ahead, it is important that it ‘connects communities’, ‘links long distance recreational routes’, provides safe off road routes for vulnerable road users, and provides some mitigations for existing routes which are due to be stopped up.
  • It is important that equestrians are included on all routes for vulnerable road users, ie walkers. cyclists and equestrians, and that underpasses are of bridleway or restricted byway status, not footpaths.
  • Onward connections to long distance routes should be taken into account, such as the recreational route along the disused railway line between Ilminster and Chard.  Thus safe access around the Southfields Roundabout, we suggest two way around the south west section, between Ilminster and Broadway, is vital.

Site specific

The plans are currently divided into four sections: 

M5 to Mattock’s Tree Green Junction,

Mattock’s Tree Green Junction to Griffin Lane,

Griffin Lane to Ashill Junction, and

Ashill Junction to the Southfields Roundabout. 

The SSBA’s response covers the whole route as some of our members ride north of the South Somerset parishes, in particular the Herepath.

The following notes relate to each of the four sections.

Sheet 1 – M5 Junction 25 to Mattock’s Tree Green Junction

  • Need to incorporate Old Broach Lane (DMMO application 882 for Restricted Byway) to create a Non Motorised User (NMU) route from the minor road near Haydon to join footpaths T26/12 and T22/6 (which should be upgraded). This is within the red envelope.
  • Mattock’s Tree Green junction – We would like, and I think this has now been accepted, that there will be separate tracks (alongside both carriageways) on the Mattock’s Tree dumbbell overbridge.  We have asked for some form of separation such as a post and rail fence.  It is visual only, but will help both horse riders and motorists.
  • Ash Lane to Greenway Lane to be dedicated connection for NMUs, so should be a Restricted Byway rather than a Bridleway

Sheet 2 – Mattock’s Tree Green Junction to Griffin Lane

  • Provide connection from Ash Road southwards to the Somerset Progressive School, the Huish Woods Scout Campsite and local businesses at Nightingale Farm and an extension along a section of old road to West Hatch Lane.
  • At Bath House Farm: there is historical evidence of a crossing here and therefore the potential for a DMMO application. The intention to stop up definitive bridleway T 31/36 is shown with no mitigation.  A solution to this, and to mitigate for the stopping up of definitive footpath T 27/10, which are both within the redline envelope, would be to have a grade separated crossing for vulnerable road users at this point.
  • West Hatch Lane crosses the existing A358 at grade (as there is an ORPA on the eastern side and therefore should not be stopped without mitigation). A DMMO application for ORPA as a Restricted Byway or BOAT is being considered.

Sheet 3 – Griffin Lane to Ashill junction

  • New bridge at Bickenhall Lane, providing access for vehicles, walkers, cyclists, horse riders and disabled users. This link is essential and should be a Restricted Byway.
  • Fivehead River underpass – this is currently only down for walkers, but horse riders have been using it for years and will continue to try and use it.  It would be helpful to have mounting blocks installed. See note in general comments above.
  • Village Road – there are a few variations being considered. One involved a new bridleway (which should be RB). We would like an NMU route (Restricted Byway) to connect Village Road to Capland Road.
  • High Bridge underbridge – should be to at least to bridleway status (wider and safer than for a footpath specification), and link to bridleway at Capland Lane.  This is important as why should National Highways provide a safe route for walkers and not include other vulnerable road users. It may cost more, but not significantly considering the safety aspect.
  • (Not sure if this is important) CH1/UN Bridleway has not been considered. What is proposed?
  • IMPORTANT – New Sunny underpass – should be for all NMUs, and connect to NMU routes

Sheet 4 – Ashill junction and Southfields roundabout

  • Ashill junction – if a grade separation is going to be provided for walkers – it should include equestrians and cyclists.
  • Copse Lane – DMMO application 510. Order objected to (2017) waiting for SCC to refer back to PINS. This scheme will overtake this and settle it so the DMMO application will die
  • There is an opportunity, by processing DMMO application 841 for Merryfield Lane, to provide a safe off road route from Ashill junction to Ilton. This will offer an alternative to walking, cycling or riding along Rapps Lane or Cad Road, both of which will be rat runs and have no verges or refuges for NMUs.  (Note, this is currently outside the red line envelope – can the red line be changed and so it would be bought inside?)
  • Definitive bridleway CH 1/7, through Parsonage Farm, is shown on the wrong line on NH page 4 of the consultation.
  • Thickthorn Lane (DMMO application 849) would currently provide an at grade crossing. This needs to be mitigated.
  • If Windmill Hill Lane becomes a rat run, which is likely, the designers should seek a safer route. Note horses are exercised at the beginning of the day as riders with regular jobs work at other times. This will be when this rat run is at is busiest.
  • new Ding bridge underpass (linked by the provision of proposed multi user track on West side of new A358 linking the new Ashill junction and the proposed new Ding Bridge underpass to the bridleway on the East side)
  • It is vital there is a connection from Ilminster to Broadway. Controlled crossing is required suggest Pegasus with limited corals / refuges.  This would enable access to the recreational route along the disused railway line going south from Ilminster towards Chard.

A358 Dualling Project

Our chair has been working closely with Highways England. There will be several events where you can see what the current plans for equestrians will be and have you say.

Themed webinars

We’re hosting some themed webinars on Microsoft Teams with out project team, focusing on different topics and specialist areas.  At these, one-hour-long, events our team will give a short presentation and then take questions from attendees.  You can submit your questions using the chat function (which can be used anonymously). 

Webinar themeDateTime
Walking, cycling and horse-riding, including disabled users ​Monday 1 November ​3pm ​

Face-to-face consultation event: Monks Yard, Ilminster

From 23 Oct 2021 at 11:00 to 23 Oct 2021 at 18:00

More information

Face-to-face consultation event: Holiday Inn, Taunton

From 3 Nov 2021 at 11:00 to 3 Nov 2021 at 18:00

More information

See https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/a358-taunton-to-southfields-2021consultation/ for more information.

Save our Routes in Broadway!

South Somerset Bridleways Association meeting: Broadway Village Hall, TA19 9RX

Tuesday 25th February 7-9pm

Somerset County Council’s Regulation Committee turned down the SSBA’s applications for the Broadway routes on 6th February.

We would like to meet with those riders and carriage drivers that are disappointed in this decision to explain the legal process and why it is so important to save these routes.

The SSBA will appeal the decision. There is still hope that our rights to these routes may not be lost if enough riders and carriage drivers engage with the process.

Please join us on Tuesday and help us save these routes.

AGM and talk “Weird tales of Bridleways”

Please do come along to our AGM on Tuesday 22nd October at the Wyndham Arms, Kingsbury Episcopi TA12 6AT at 7.30pm.

This will be followed by our speaker Caroline Baldock who was one of the first women to be granted a professional jockeys licence. She will entertain us with “Weird tales of Bridleways”.

We’d love to see as many of you there as possible.