What was the Southern Route shown on the Town Council’s ‘Road Consultation’ map?

Blog post 14/2/2018, updated 7/6/18

There were two routes to choose from in the Town Council’s questionnaire last March, ‘A’ and ‘B’. We were given a choice between the two, with a third space to fill in our own suggestion. However practically nothing was said about ‘B’, the southern route, and nothing at all about any other possible alternatives.

The route that was 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 said 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, together with Glastonbury’s Borough Council being downgraded to a parish.

At the eastern end, this route would join the present A361 near to the entrance of 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 were 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. At least 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.

It looked as though the inclusion of the southern route in the questionnaire was just to give a false democratic choice, since the chances of such a road being actually built seem so vanishingly small. What would happen if Glastonbury did agree to a route that was then turned down by the various higher authorities remains an interesting question. Since (as shown on the Town Council’s map) it would be much shorter, less expensive, less intrusive on the landscape and would require less from housing developers, then this was of course a possibility – though people did not see it as a realistic option.

According to planners (who were not consulted before the questionnaire was delivered to the public), neither route ‘A’ nor route ‘B’ are ever likely to be implemented. More likely would be a shorter version of route ‘A’ (tighter to the Tor, from Edgarley to Tin Bridge roundabout), or the longer version of route ‘B’. Either would be worse, from the point of view of the environment and their affect on our landscape, than the routes actually suggested.