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Local opposition to the road


 When the consultation ended in March 2021, approximately a thousand people had taken part. Nearly 80% told Wiltshire Council that they didn’t want any road at all. Chippenham Town Council responded to the consultation by voting unanimously against the road as part of 'Future Chippenham'.


James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, told a meeting of 200 protesters on the 12th December 2020. He stood in the fields to be built on in the Garden Valley at a site meeting and boldly said: ‘This road and housing must be stopped’.  


The protest reflected growing opposition to the scheme by local organisations including Campaign Against Urban Sprawl to the East of Chippenham (CAUSE), Bremhill Parish Council, Friends of Marden Valley and Wiltshire Climate Alliance (WCA).


Chippenham-based groups have joined forces with those opposing to a Melksham Bypass just south of Chippenham.


Wiltshire Council has since shrunk its ambitions for the Chippenham eastern bypass.

Wiltshire Council land interests


An important part of the story is that Wiltshire Council owns a lot of the land to the east of Chippenham. These county farms are, the council sees, prime development land to be opened by a road. With this in mind, Wiltshire Council has formed four municipal property development companies under the name of  ‘Stone Circle’. Recently these companies have decided to reduce the scale (and financial risk) of great Chippenham project. The likely-hood is that the government funding (HIF money) was insufficient for the whole bypass at this stage.


In July 2021 a Wiltshire cabinet meeting decided to proceed with only the southern section of the  road, from the A4 through to the A350 junction at Lackham roundabout, and only around 4,050 new homes, subject to the Local Plan review and the Housing Infrastructure funding (HIF) from Homes England.

A year later, on 12 July 2022, the council admitted that Homes England had not yet agreed to fund the revised scheme: ‘Cabinet acknowledged that the council has not yet secured a revised Grant Determination Agreement (GDA) with Homes England to reflect the council's decision made last year for a revised scheme. As a result, the council has continued to progress the Future Chippenham programme in good faith but at risk. Cabinet therefore agreed that further work is paused, including the procurement of the road and associated design and investigatory works.

‘If a revised application for funding cannot be agreed soon, the council may need to seek to agree an exit from the existing GDA as it will not be possible to deliver the project within the HIF funding period without exposing the council to financial risk. See also correspondence with Homes England
The Cabinet also noted the outcome of the recent judicial review concerning consultation prior to bidding for money and confirmed that subject to agreeing a revised GDA, the Future Chippenham team can submit further representations to the Local Plan review.‘

The council has spent almost £12m on developing the road, £9m of it on the services of its consutants Atkins. Around half the money came from advances from the HIF grant which may have to be repaid if Homes England does not agree to pay out £75m for a road that has shrunk from over 7 miles to around 4 miles and lost the Junction 17 improvement that was supposed to be part of the funding bid.


Homes England has told the A350 Alliance (North) that it expects to decide by the end of September whether or not to pay the grant to WC. 


Wiltshire Council has produced a promotional video making its case for the transformative power of the road. A visualisation flies you over the three potential routes; a dulcet voiced air hostess points out supposed advantages such as connecting to footpaths and cycleways while convincing anyone but the most petrol-headed viewer that any of these routes would be a hideous violation of innocent farmland, rivers and canals.


Note that the video shows only the full project that WC first dreamed up – not the cut-down southern scheme that emerged in 2019. The history of Wiltshire road-building should be a warning that it will be back - unless the council’s tarmac habit drives it to bankruptcy.




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The marketing of the road is worth watching on u-tube. Ask yourself if this is really 'sustainable' growth. The council seems to be confused.

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