CONTROVERSIAL plans to keep a temporary relief road built to take traffic through Royal Wootton Bassett while the town’s railway bridges were upgraded are set to be decided next week.

Oxford University Endowment Management wants to retain the link road between the A3102 and Marlborough Road as an agricultural access.

Officers have recommended permission is granted for the stretch, but the town council has objected and residents have voiced fears it could lead to more housing developments in the future.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Traffic using the relief road when it was open

Traffic using the relief road when it was open

The applicants say retaining the road as a gated access will mean farmers won’t have to go through the town centre.

But they have also suggested it could be used temporarily for general traffic and if adopted in the future it could benefit traffic flow.

“Some representations have raised the prospect that the road is a precursor to further residential development expanding the town to the South,” said case officer Chris Marsh in his report.

He added that while he was not aware of any housing proposals in the offing “it is emphasised that applications should in any case be treated on their individual merits. In this respect, the substance of the application is clear; the road is for private access”.

But some residents have objected. The road could lead to more housing and result in a fast rat run, feared Paul Drake.

“The trucks using the quarry with the old route, had to slow down/stop as the access was single vehicle with a sharp turn, giving pedestrians a chance to cross the road," he said.

“The new road allows them a very fast turn. Even now they have no regards to traffic priories on the bridge. Unless measures are put in place to reduce speed I fear serious injury or worst fatality.”

Lester Durrant pointed out that without the intervention of residents contacting Wiltshire Council and Network Rail during the construction of the road the habitat of great crested newts would have been obliterated.

The application was not about agricultural needs, he said.

“It is about what the applicant plans to do with the land in the future," he said.

Lisa Farr objected strongly, saying: “Locals to the area have had to endure lengthy diversions, long queues, massive inconvenience and frequent noise disturbance.

“We all reluctantly accepted the diversion and closures on the knowledge that within 12-18 months our roads and lives would go back to normal.”

Another resident, Joy Hopkins said she and her neighbours were very concerned at what the route could become.

“The road is not required, farming has been successfully carried out for many, many years with a single access off of Marlborough Road. Network Rail must revert the land back to farming as was part of the original planning application,” she said.

The committee meeting is held in public at the council’s Monkton Park offices in Chippenham and starts at 3pm on Wednesday.