National Highways’ Development Consent Order application for the A358 Taunton to Southfields Dualling Scheme, previously due to be submitted before the end of 2022, has been paused to support a review into the appropriateness of the environmental mitigations proposed for the project.
If any of you have walked or ridden along the new bridleway recently you will have seen how much work was achieved by the Compton Dundon Rights of Way volunteers who cleared some of the grass during September. The newly planted hedge is doing well and few plants were lost despite the extreme summer heat and drought. It has been wonderful to see how much it is being used and to be thanked by the horse riders who seem to be really appreciating it. The bridleway has definitely been a great success.
There is still a short section to finish plus clearing around the line of trees, planting up a small corner and applying some more wood chip mulch.
We will be meeting on the 13th November at 10.30am (Peak Lane at end of new green lane) to hopefully finish the work which will set it up well for the next year. Bring gloves, spade, trowel or whatever tool you prefer. There will be cake but do bring a drink.
If you would like to join us please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you like to help improve a new bridleway by helping to plant trees (small whips) in the Parish Council Allotment land between Peak Lane and Somerton Road. This will continue the new hedgeline which will delineate the boundary of the new permissive bridleway.
The new green lane runs from the B3151 opposite L7/12 (Restricted Byway Touch Lane) through an existing vehicular access around the fields to Peak Lane by the southern end of Public Footpath L7/11.
Pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders will be able to cross the B3151 where there are clear sight lines and no longer need to travel along the road to/from the Peak Lane junction.
Natural England has commissioned the Oxfordshire County Council, Systeme D and the University of Oxford to undertake a project to understand the most important qualities that define a good path (e.g. footpaths, bridleways, byways) for different types of uses. As part of this project, they are conducting a survey to collect feedback from user groups across England to identify the top quality metrics for different use types. The results will be openly available and published on greenspacehack.com/.
The survey comprises of 7 questions and should take less than 10 minutes to complete:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Walking, cycling and horse-riding, including disabled users