Banwell bypass application submitted to planners

Plans for the by-pass.

Plans drawn up for the bypass. - Credit: North Somerset Council

Plans to build a controversial new link road just north of a North Somerset village has been submitted. 

The scheme, known as the Banwell bypass, would see a 3.3km single carriageway built from Summer Lane on the A371 to Towerhead Road on the A368, in a bid to ease dense traffic which flows through the village's narrow roads.  

Earlier this year, a public consultation finished which saw the proposed route decided.  

In plans submitted by contractors Alun Griffiths Ltd to North Somerset Council, another route - known as the southern link road - will connect the A371 at Castle Hill to the A368 at East Street, and will see a new roundabout junction constructed to connect it with the bypass. 

The new link road is shown in grey.

The new link road adjacent to the A371 is shown in grey. - Credit: North Somerset Council

Plans are also in place to build a bridge, 'deliver enhancements' in Banwell and active travel networks in the connecting Sandford, Churchill and Winscombe villages. 

In 2019, the council secured £97 million in funding from Homes England to deliver the infrastructure needed to support a delivery of 7,557 new homes in the area - most of which are situated on the Weston Village, Haywood Village and Locking Parklands developments. 

The Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund will make up the £66million used for the project, and will fund expansion of the Winterstoke Hundred Academy. 

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Since the 1930s, congestion in Banwell has worsened as the reliance on vehicles has increased.

The use of cars, HGVs and buses through the villages’ narrow roads has led to 'routine heavy congestion' for commuters as the A371 is the main route from Weston to Banwell, and into Cheddar and Wells.  

At the intersection between Summer Lane, the existing A371 and Well Lane, a new traffic signalised junction will be built and realigned.

Leader of North Somerset Council and executive member for major projects, Cllr Steve Bridger, said: "It is worth emphasising that these proposals offer more than just the bypass to alleviate congestion and cut journey times that residents have been calling for over decades.

"They also include 8 miles of new routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and protection of local habitats.

"As part of the planning process, there will now be a further period of consultation and we welcome comments received through that process."

The scheme hopes to create a '50 per cent biodiversity net gain' after concerns were raised on the environmental impact to the local ecology, including the rare Kingfisher bird.

However, it was decided after a lengthy review the route will have 'no direct impact on the species'.

Traffic in Banwell will be alleviated by the bypass.

Traffic in Banwell will be alleviated by the bypass. - Credit: North Somerset Council

This also included concerns on the development's close proximity to the North Somerset Levels, the North Somerset and Mendip Bats Special Area of Conservation, and five scheduled monuments which are in the vicinity of the scheme. 

The wider area provides habitat for a variety of protected and notable species, including dormice, grass snakes, otters, badgers, kingfishers and several bat species. A Romano-British villa opposite Riverside is the closet scheduled monument to the scheme.  

There will now be a 16-week statutory process to decide on the scheme.

A public consultation launched today (July 28) and will run for 30 days until August 27. 

To view the application and submit comments, visit n-somerset.gov.uk/banwellbypassapplication.

Earlier this month, the council voted to press ahead with the process of compulsory purchase orders to acquire land for the project. If objections are made, the purchase of land may have to be resolved at a public inquiry.

Construction is expected to begin next year and will open to the public by 2024.