The December Swindon Link magazine asked if the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne would announce capital funding to extend Thamedown Drive to give the town a much needed western by-pass.
The answer is, we don’t know yet – but there’s hope says South Swindon MP Robert Buckland.
There was hope that there could be some relief of the chronic traffic congestion to the West and North of the town in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in Parliament on 5 December.
The expectation was raised following the Chancellor’s visit to the town in July when he discussed the road between Thamesdown Drive and Great Western Way with Robert Buckland and North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, pictured right.
The Chancellor was interested in the fact that the town’s economic development was being held back because of traffic hold ups.
Swindon Council has costed construction of a single lane road with a tunnel under the Swindon to Kemble railway line at £40 to £50 million.
Robert said: “Justin and I met the Chancellor to present the options for the road discussed by the council cabinet in early November.
"I wasn’t expecting the Chancellor to specifically name the Swindon project as part of his wide ranging assessment of the state of the nation’s economy. I’ve been through the ‘Green Book’ and specific local infrastructure projects are not listed.
"However the proposal remains a live one and I will carry on engaging with the Department for Transport and the Treasury to help bring things to fruition as soon as possible.
"The door remains firmly open and I will carry on beavering away to secure the £600,000 the council needs to commence detailed design and costing of the road, as well as commitments to fund construction."
The decision can’t come too soon said Kevin Fisher, chair of Shaw Residents’ Association, who is disappointed that George Osborne did not commit the cash to Swindon. He said: "This road extension is a requirement simply to cope with the North Swindon expansion of 10,000 houses originally planned in the early 1990s.
"Since then plans have come forward and agreed to build 1,690 houses at Tadpole Farm to extend North Swindon, 700 houses at Ridgeway Farm on Swindon’s border in Wiltshire, and 200 houses at Moreden Bridge.
"These houses will be built. Now we fear thousands more houses will be built at Pry Farm to close the gap between Swindon and Purton – a scheme considered by Wiltshire Council in 2009 under the direction of the previous government!
Right, Mead Way at Sparcells, close to the Ridgeway Farm development site, already massively congested before more housing is built
"Government guidelines talk about necessary infrastructure and indeed the recent planning Inspectors review of the draft Swindon Local plan highlighted the gap in funding for infrastructure as a weakness in the plan.
"Yet here we are with an opportunity for government to provide the resources for Swindon to meet the expansion demands put on us by the Secretary of State for the Environment, and it is not granted. This is a very bad decision for residents and businesses of West and North Swindon – it brings complete gridlock on Mead Way (the present western by-pass) are now a step closer to reality.
"It is time for our MP’s and councillors to send a strong message to the government about how fed up Swindonians are with the unsustainable development of our borough”.