The route shown on the Council’s sketch map south of the town dates from around 1970. This is the route that was originally proposed in conjunction with the Actis (Redlands) estate. The Town Council says that the plan was abandoned because of ‘changes in local government priorities’ – though they do not say what these changes were the result of, nor whether they are likely now to be changed after all.
Two possible reasons have been talked about, as to why local government priorities may have been changed at the time. One is that a very firm objection came from Millfield School, effectively blocking it. The other is that Mendip District Council refused to sanction the large house-building project that would have come with it, so close to the Tor. Possibly it was a combination of both of these reasons.
At the eastern end, this route would join the present A361 near to the entrance to Millfield’s prep school (though probably much better from an engineering point of view if it could go through the middle of their playing fields). The proposed road is actually shown on the map re-joining the current route a little further away from Millfield and nearer the town, rather than following Cinnamon Lane. The map appears to have been simply copied from some old plans, and it is unlikely that either Millfield or Mendip will have been consulted about the possibility of the road proposal being revived.
At the other end, the map shows the bypass coming through Bretenoux road at the bottom of Redlands, then following the Butleigh road into the town before coming down Fisher's Hill and then turning left onto the Street Road. One Councillor expressed his surprise that this route was being suggested, since it would not solve the traffic problem – it would simply move it along from Chilkwell Street and Bere Lane to Fisher's Hill and Street Road. The whole debate would be likely to come up once again in the not-too-distant future. A plan for an extended version of this route has in fact been discussed. This would follow the foot of Wearyall Hill before joining the A39 near Pomparles Bridge, between Glastonbury and Street. This, however, has not been officially made public.
At first I assumed that the inclusion of the southern route in the consultation was just to give a false democratic choice, since the chances of such a road being actually built seem so vanishingly small. So I have said very little about it in any of my articles or posts, wondering to myself what would happen if Glastonbury did agree to a route that was then turned down by the various higher authorities. Since it is (as shown on the Town Council’s map) much shorter, less expensive, less intrusive on the landscape and presumably would require less from housing developers, then this is of course a possibility.
The danger is that a vote for this route might get turned into a decision to use the longer version; though either way, the arguments against having a bypass plus substantial development to the south of the town are much the same as for the northern route. Better, in my opinion, to vote for ‘Neither’ – there are several alternative routes to which the traffic could be re-directed, given the political will.
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What are the alternative routes to the A361 through Glastonbury?
The Town Council has said that this consultation is only ‘preliminary’, and that we can consult further when we have ‘all the information’. Is this true?
What is the planning status of the old railway line? Surely the District Council’s Local Plan will spell out what it can be used for?
Why is the Road Consultation being carried out in such a rush?