After years of inactivity by Swindon Council, there is movement to come up with a fully costed case for constructing the extension of Thamesdown Drive to Great Western Way via Barnfield Road.
Swindon’s two MPs Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson took the opportunity to outline the project to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne when he visited the town on 12 July, with Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon cabinet member for highways strategic transport and leisure, setting out the detail of why building the road was necessary.
He explained how Swindon’s population will have expanded by 15 per cent houses by 2026 and how Mead Way was already under considerable pressure – before 1,700 houses are built at Tadpole Farm and another 700 at Ridgeway Farm outside Swindon’s western border.
He also pointed out that the Cheney Manor industrial estate requires redevelopment but has inadequate vehicle access.
The Chancellor said: “I can’t make a commitment at this point, but hearing that Swindon does not have a ring road and that the town’s economic prospects could be held back without the right infrastructure in place suggests there is a good case to be made for this kind of smart investment.
“The town has two strong MPs in Robert and Justin who have spoken powerfully about the need for this road.”
The Chancellor was in town looking at Network Rail’s dualling of the Swindon to Kemble line and meeting some of the 130 apprentices at MAN Trucks at Blagrove. He also discussed the major contract to supply the Ministry of Defence with 7,400 trucks.
Afterwards Justin said: “Robert and I have been lobbying in Parliament with Keith Williams for the Thamesdown Drive extension. It will both benefit residents and unlock Swindon’s economic development.”
Robert Buckland, who has been taking the lead on lobbying for the road, said: “The Chancellor got it immediately; he recognises the success of our town must not be constrained by an inadequate road network
“For several years the council was far too vague about getting Thamesdown Drive built, it didn’t seem to be a priority. But there is now a plan being developed which will give us a clear framework to drive this project forward into the next funding review.
“There’s a long way to go but I’m optimistic that we can secure a major infrastructure investment to the west of Swindon.”
Keith said design options for a single or dual carriageway extension will be ready in October. £2 million will be required to prepare detailed plans. The 1.3 mile road, first proposed in 1997, plus access from Cheney Manor, is estimated to cost up to £100 million.
• Chancellor helps lay railway track in advance of closure of Swindon to Kemble line from 9 August to 9 September