The A350 through Dorset to Poole
The following schemes have been considered and rejected over the years.
C13 Melbury Abbas Bypass
Spetisbury Charton Marshall Surmister Marshall bypass along the A350
Several reports by Dorset CC (now Dorset Council) consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff (now known as WSP) and Buro Happold have assessed these schemes and concluded that they would be poor value for money because there is not enough traffic to justify the high construction costs. Funding might be available if new sections of road opened up land for large new developments. Unlike the A350 through Wiltshire the route through Dorset does not carry the traffic volume to qualify for the ‘Major Route Network’ (MRN).
The M4-DC study team seems to agree. In answer to a question from campaigners at a zoom meeting on 23 August they said: ‘It is worth noting that the cost of dualling and /or grade separating the entire length of a corridor from the M4 to the Dorset Coast is likely to be prohibitive.’
In the autumn of 2022 two councillors representing communities in North Dorset claimed to have persuaded their own council and the DfT that ‘The A350/C13 will no longer be included in plans for a major strategic road development running from Poole to the M4 corridor.’ We asked the study team if the A350 from Warminster to Poole had indeed been removed from its remit. On 24 October Richard Leonard, current manager of the project, made it clear that the whole of the A350 was still in the frame:
‘On the subject of the A350, you asked about whether its status (outside of the MRN) prevented it from being considered. We acknowledge that the geometry of parts of the road south of Warminster is very constrained and may require significant upgrade to reach the standard expected of an SRN road, however as we have always stated, no routes have been discounted at this point.’
Dr Andrew Murrison MP for Westbury and staunch promoter of an A350 bypass for the town believes that Dorset and its councillors would be overturned. On 14 October He told a CPRE campaigner that the A350 would be ‘part of a Major Highway Project and fall directly under government control.’
Part of the route would be in Wiltshire, part in Dorset. The Wiltshire section is safeguarded as a saved policy in the current local plan. WC will reconsider the safeguarding as part of the Local Plan review. The Dorset section of the road is in the same position: Dorset Council Local Plan - Cabinet update - Dorset Council news
C13 Melbury Abbas bypass
Many environmental constraints: Fontmell and Melbury Downs, owned by the National Trust have SSSI and SAC designations as calcareous grassland. Nitrogen deposition from traffic fumes has already caused harmful enrichment of the grassland. Would have a serious impact on the Cranborne Chase and West Wilts Downs AONB. The total unsuitability of the route for massive expansion lay behind a long campaign by local councillors: ‘The technical challenges would have added £200m to the project cost and the damage to the valued landscape and village communities would have been unacceptable.’
A350 Spetisbury/Charlton Marshall bypass
Any serious plan for a fast route to Poole would have to revive this ancient scheme. It would have to be a single project as there are only a couple of hundred metres between the two villages. Difficult to find a route avoiding buildings and river (and disused railway line – now there’s an idea!).
These photos of Dorset landscape are from the area that would be impacted by a new fast strategic route to the south coast ports through Dorset.
Photos: Rupert Hardy.
[Bottom left: Cowslips in foreground: A350/C13 route: Hod Hill looking north
Cowslips and orchid on Hod Hill, North Dorset
Top left: Walkers: Looking down from Hod Hill across the A350 to the ridge along which runs the C13
Above: Poppies dominate the view west from Fontmell Down