Wiltshire Publications

Issue 439 – It’s over: Government say no to westbury bypass

PLANS for an Eastern bypass around Westbury have been dealt a death blow.

Following last year’s public inquiry into the controversial route that environmental campaigners claimed would forever blight the tranquil Wellhead valley,  the Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis has refused to grant permission for the plans. 

A letter of refusal from the government said that although the Secretary of State had given “careful consideration” to the concerns of residents living alongside the A350   he had not seen any evidence to show that the conditions were not “fairly typical for an urban road of this type.”

To paraphrase the highly detailed 289 page report submitted by inspector Alan Langton, his consensus was that although the bypass would remove some traffic from the town, the benefits did not outweigh the cost to the environment and the scheme did not take into consideration congestion at the Yarnbrook roundabout; which he considered to be a more congested section of road than through Westbury.

Dorian Jones of the campaign group Bypass Now! said, “I am bitterly disappointed. This is a wonderful town to live in but this is a death knell for the people of Westbury; the commerce of Westbury and for the children of Westbury. This was the last ditch attempt for something to come to Westbury to benefit the people of the town but unfortunately people who live away from the area think differently. I think it has put the town back into the dark ages.”

Mayor of Westbury, cllr Sue Ezra, said she was “bitterly disappointed” with the outcome. “It’s taken 40 years to get to this stage and we are still waiting,” she said.

MP for Westbury, Andrew Murrison, has expressed his sadness at the rejection by the government of plans for a Westbury bypass. He said, “This is a dark day for Westbury which has been blighted by heavy traffic for far too long.

“I hope there will be grounds for an appeal, otherwise the town faces ever increasing quantities of through traffic rumbling through it with no realistic prospect of relief for many, many years to come.”

The decision could now only be overturned if it were challenged in the High Court but even after a reconsideration, the Secretary of State could still return the same verdict. 

The scheme has already cost the taxpayer £4.4 million in costs. Due to cost £33.1m to complete, the proposed scheme would have included a £1.3m raft of improvements for Westbury town centre. The scheme was strongly supported by Westbury Town Council.

Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Dick Tonge said, “The decision will come as a blow to many residents and businesses in Westbury.

“We did everything in our power to try to get the scheme off the ground, as we believed it would benefit many residents and businesses in the town, as well as traffic using the A350.

“We will now examine the reasons behind the decision and decide the way forward.”

Ever a divisive issue, the result has brought smiles to environmental campaigners who fought to prevent the road development.  

Roger Stanley of Newtown said, “We are very pleased; the right decision has definitely made.”

Patrick Kinnersly, secretary of the White Horse Alliance said, “It is time Wiltshire Council moved into the 21st century and started to invest in the kind of transport we will need if we are to cope with fuel scarcity and prevent a climate crisis. We need to reduce traffic everywhere – including Westbury and the villages where this plan would have made it worse – not encourage it to grow.”

Town and Wiltshire councillor Mike Cuthbert Murray commented, “This is good news for the people who fought against this scheme to carve through  our beautiful Wellhead Valley, but on the opposite side it’s disappointing to learn that people living along the A350 will have to endure the continuous rumbling of traffic and heavy goods vehicles passing by their homes. This is now a new opportunity to relook at the whole scenario and work our way through the issues ahead of us.”

Inspector Alan Langton may have rejected the proposal for an eastern bypass, but the report did seem to leave the back door open for an application for a western alternative.

Although he did say that he “emphatically” did not intend to endorse a far western route, he admitted that the scheme had the “potential to provide a more favourable balance of adverse impacts to benefits.


What you said


Unsurprisingly the fate of the eastern bypass has been hot topic on both of Westbury’s busy internet forums. Here’s a pick of forum users’ comments over the last week.

Pete: “To say I’m bitterly disappointed would be a massive understatement.”

Topskills: “disappointed but not surprised! I’m glad I don’t live on the A350 because the congestion and pollution will only get worse. Bye bye Westbury.

Yokel: “I did think a ‘Yes’ was inevitable and felt we’d been shoehorned into it (rather aggressively by some), so, although I feel for those who really wanted it, it’s refreshing to see any process such as this isn’t merely a tick in a box.”

jamieh: “I am very pleased of the news that Wellhead Valley will be saved……

Although I agree Westbury needs a by pass I am glad its not at the cost of a fantastic piece of Countryside.”

Rowan: “Wellhead is a lovely area, and while we do need a bypass, the Eastern route was not the best idea.”

Debs: “I’m sad we have not got our bypass…..  any would be better than nothing at all….. all these people banging on about bats n badgers n whatever else is in the woods i wonder if they actually live here or even in the same county”

Charlie Finbow: “what a short sighted decision”