Is now the time to seriously discuss a Christchurch bypass?


The North Bournemouth Corridor – Is now the time to seriously discuss the Christchurch bypass? 

For what seems an eternity, some say plans go back over 70 years, the Christchurch bypass has been a subject which has divided opinion in the town by politicians and environmentalists alike but it seems no one else. Indeed it would seem Dorset County Council based 26 miles away in Dorchester never had the appetite for a multi-million pound project which would benefit no one else in Dorset apart from those living in Christchurch. With LGR (Local Government Reform) now taking place there is a strong argument that the pendulum has swung very much in Christchurch’s favour.  

Barrack Road Christchurch

Barrack Road Christchurch

This week, indeed for the next nine months, we have seen a glimpse of the chaos that potentially could fall on our area within the ten years unless a strategic plan is put in place. There is no hiding the fact with the vision many have for our areas future, the North Bournemouth corridor will undoubtedly see a substantial amount of growth in traffic. 

Let’s look at the current plans, not individually but collectively. The new 875 home development of Roeshot Hill in Christchurch, along with the new School at Fairmile, potential building on brown field sites in the town centre and the plans to increase the out of town industrial areas at the airport. Increased airport traffic, the development of Wessex Fields off Castle Lane, the now confirmed growth of the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital and finally the planned increase capacity at the local AFC Bournemouth football ground. Only then can you see there is only a certain amount of increased traffic the current Spur Road and A35 Barrack Road/Iford Roundabout can take. 

Iford Roundabout Bournemouth

Queuing rush hour traffic at Iford Roundabout

When we look at the Bournemouth Traffic data profile* we currently see an average daily traffic count of 66,374 on the Spur Road at Cooper Dean and 23,818 at Iford Roundabout much of it would be traffic originating from or going towards Christchurch. For Christchurch we see Bargates showing the same figure as Iford at 23,818 clearly indicating this is Christchurch generated through traffic, and for Blackwater we see a figure of 51,037. These figures clearly show neither the A35 through Christchurch nor Iford/Castle Lane West can continue to sustain this increase in traffic we are now seeing. 

At the very least but maybe only as an interim measure there clearly is the need for a North

Wessex Fields

Wessex Fields on the border with Bournemouth and Christchurch

Bournemouth/Christchurch park and ride scheme of which land on the spur road is available, including the land at the quarry. Environmentally sound bus links to these areas then become viable, safer bike lanes again is also a possibility and both ideas would drastically reduce the amount of traffic going into Christchurch and the North Bournemouth corridor. We have seen in other towns and cities, like Salisbury that out of town P&R’s do indeed attract more footfall traffic into town centres, a must for Christchurch. 

Claire Bath, Christchurch Cllr (Con) told us that Christchurch Councillors unanimously agree that a by-pass is long overdue for our town. Our roads are in gridlock which affects the local economy and the health of our

Cllr Claire Bath (Con - Christchurch)

Cllr Claire Bath (Con – Christchurch)

residents through vehicle emissions. 

Recently we asked Dorset County Council to investigate the opportunity for a by-pass, their report findings showed that it would add economic benefit to our area, a key component of any funding streams from central government to deliver this much needed scheme. However Dorset County Council did not progress the plan. 

Now that we will become part of the coastal conurbation council, this opens up greater opportunities to push for this to become a key economic priority to improve access to areas identified to economic growth locally. I will be fighting for this as a local Councillor in every way possible, it is very much needed and long overdue” 

It would seem Christchurch now has a voice, it has some teeth. Lost in Dorset it was an outpost on the border with Hampshire, now as part of Bournemouth and Poole they now have an area with a population that is even greater than neighbouring Southampton, a city who if the truth be known is slightly concerned about the economically minded commercially thinking council waking up just to the west of it. Currently Bournemouth and Poole Councils which in turn will include Christchurch under the BCP Council next year, are seeking to join the new “Western Gateway” and this is ultimately where much of the funding could come from, Central Government who will not be able to forever ignore the need for greater improved road links from the M4 down to the local port of Poole and our local airport, a Christchurch bypass will be an essential requirement for that overall plan so is the time now for the areas current and future Cllrs to fully fight for it? 

Relief Road proposals previously considered by Dorset County Council – download the map

Dorset County Council previously conducted an initial consultation and put forward four possible routes for a new relief road. These were also discussed at local council level but were not progressed at that time. To view the possible routes click here.

What do you think? Email the editor or comment below. 

*Source: Department for Transport

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  1. You are wrong. The ‘Issue’ starts before Somerford. With new superstores at Somerford traffic builds up between Roeshot Hill and Somerford roundabout blocking the bypass FROM Somerford roundabout to all routes west. To take heavy commercial traffic and pollution away from residential areas a road should start between Roeshot Hill and Sainsburys roundabout and go straight to Blackwater Junction. This would save pollution, traffic jams and road repairs from 24 wheel juggernauts passing through Christchurch from east and west directions.

  2. I would agree that there is possibly now more impetus to do something and that as the new BCP council is local it should have much more interest than the old DCC.
    It needs to be resolved but in the shorter term not the long protracted period that these things often take. The tinkering years ago in Barrack Rd and now Blackwater /A338 can only be short term and aren’t the final solution.
    Looking at the 4 old alternatives I believe that the Avon and Stour Valley routes are the only realistic ones. But that each have issues regarding SSSI, floodplain as well as where they start and end. One starts in and ends in built up areas so will only move problems to junctions at either end, the other starting at Somerford is too far away from where the issues start (Stoney Lane r’bout)
    I’d welcome opportunities for a debate to be started hopefully in the basis of finding an accord and compromises to get something done. My fear is that it’ll just become another shouting match and source for local discord as there are sections of the community who have valid points of view but just don’t want any changes

  3. I live in Mill Road Christchurch. Massive Building will take place over the Magistrates Court/ John Reids area with no extra infrastructure to cope?…No extra doctors/school places/parking spaces etc., when nightmare, industrial/commercial traffic is already choking the air we breath.
    Since 2008 the traffic has become manic and dangerous especially for cyclists or people like myself with COPD. Constant heavy traffic from the spur road through Fairmile is tearing up the roads and poisoning the air, while helping to choke the life out of driving through the town.
    The Christchurch ‘bypass road’ has been on the anvil for many years….Is the new Bournemouth/P/C Council going honour this proposal in view of the huge increase in traffic expected to further damage the locality?

  4. I appreciate that many communities would like a bypass and the cost is high but in the case of Christchurch it is a necessity. The current road splits the town in two and is no longer fit for purpose. If you observe the traffic you will note that it is mostly passing through en route elsewhere. As development progresses in the town (I hear talk of more housing and schools) there is a growing possibility of gridlock.

  5. Myrtle and a Douglas Redgwell on

    Yes we need a true by-pass as we live just off Bargates as the traffic is constant by day and into the night. We have concerns regarding public health with noxious fumes from cars,buses and heavy goods vehicles and the worry for the very old houses in Bargates being eventually shaken apart if the traffic increases in time!

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