North and West Swindon residents and commuters will agree that the direct link between Thamesdown Drive and Great Western Way is long overdue as a means to reduce traffic pressure on the west side of the town.
Now, with 1,700 more houses at Tadpole Farm and 700 at Ridgeway Farm to be built, people want to know what Swindon Borough Council is doing to improve road infrastructure in the area.
High on the list of concerns is the council’s apparent lack of strategy to come up with a clear costing and the lack of a plan to argue the case for capital investment with central government.
Pictured: Members of Haydon Wick Parish Council with Swindon councillor Des Moffat holding up a plan from the mid-1990s showing the route of Thamesdown Drive, including the yet to be built extension. Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
In the December 2012 Link Cheney Manor councillor Des Moffat said the £100 million cost of building the 1.3 mile road was significantly more than much longer roads in other parts of Britain.
In response to the Local Plan 2026 pre-submission document published in December, Shaw Residents’ Association commented on the absence of a clear statement about what the council is doing about seeking funding from central government. SRA volunteers recently conducted a survey of the impact on West Swindon of the increased traffic coming from Tadpole Farm and Ridgeway Farm.
Haydon Wick Parish Council has expressed regret about the continued delay to the road, stating that the original legal requirements for expansion in North Swindon recognised the need to improve road infrastructure to take traffic away from the area without adding to existing congestion.
In a response to the parish council Secretary of State for Transport the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin wrote: “The cost of building the proposed link road would likely be over £5m and would therefore be classed as a local major transport scheme.
“The Department of Transport has already committed to a programme for delivering local major transport schemes over the period of the spending review. Therefore the case of a new link road could not be considered for funding before 2015. Beyond 2015 it is the Government’s intention to devolve both funding and decision making for local major transport schemes to local transport bodies. The responsibility for any upgrading falls to the relevant transport authority, in this case Swindon Borough Council.”
Explaining how the council is working with South SwindonMP Robert Buckland to lobby central government for the investment, cabinet member for strategic planning Dale Heenan said: “Swindon Borough Council has provided background information to Robert Buckland MP on the Thamesdown Drive extension, and he has agreed to start discussions with the Treasury about funding for the road. In addition, the council is undertaking a detailed report into the options for the road to ensure there is robust evidence of the need and its cost. This information will also be provided to help support the case for funding.
“This is a road every councillor and every resident would like to see built."
Robert Buckland added: “The Thamesdown Drive extension is a major project that will take time to develop; I think that a direct approach to the Treasury is the best way forward, bearing in mind the fact that a further Spending Review will be taking place.
“I am working with Swindon Borough Council to ensure that properly costed proposals can be developed as soon as possible, in order for the case to be made as strongly as we can. The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Transport Body is in the process of being set up, so now is a very good time indeed to set out clear priorities.”