Wiltshire

MP says Chippenham relief road plan 'will desecrate countryside'

Illustration of proposed route Image copyright Wiltshire Council
Image caption The scheme would see a new road to the east and south of Chippenham, linking the A350 at the northern and southern ends of the town

An MP has described plans for a multimillion-pound relief route around a Wiltshire town as a "serious desecration of the countryside".

Conservative James Gray said he is "horrified" by the proposed Chippenham scheme and says it should not go ahead.

Wiltshire Council and Chippenham Town Council have submitted a £75m funding bid to the government.

They said the plan will unlock development land that could deliver up to 7,500 new homes.

The scheme would see a new road to the east and south of Chippenham, linking the A350 at the northern and southern ends of the town.

Wiltshire Council leader Philip Whitehead has said the bid is "bold and transformational and will make a positive change to people's lives across Chippenham and the surrounding areas".

However, Mr Gray has written to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to outline his opposition to the plans.

Image caption Conservative James Gray said he is "horrified" by the proposed Chippenham scheme and says it should not go ahead

He said he was "horrified" by the bid to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIT) "towards what is effectively a ring road around the edge of Chippenham".

"It breaches every aspect of the Neighbourhood Plan, which specifies that the eastern side of the town of Chippenham has outstanding natural and community value, and that it should not be built on in any circumstances," he added.

"HIT funding, as I understand it, demands full public support and I can tell you that there has been no public consultation at all.

"This proposed road is a serious desecration of the countryside and should not, under any circumstances, be allowed."

Mr Whitehead said: "The investment will make a positive change to people's lives across Chippenham and the surrounding areas.

"In fact I would like to see every Chippenham resident benefiting from this wider project in some shape or form whether that is through reduced congestion, improved walking and cycling routes, new public green space or new community facilities."

The government is expected to announce whether the bid has been successful in December.

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