Banwell Bypass FAQs
Got questions about the Banwell bypass? We have compiled answers to some frequently asked questions.
Watch this space for updates. More questions and answers will be added as information becomes available. You can also keep an eye on North Somerset Council's question and answer page for updates.
What is Banwell Parish Council's stance on the bypass?
Banwell Parish Council is in support of the bypass. There are a variety of reasons for this support including improving air quality by reducing CO2 from standing traffic, road & pedestrian safety and reduction of damage to buildings are some of them. Whilst we understand that there will be households that are adversely affected by the proposals, we are working with North Somerset to mitigate these where possible.
As part of the proposals active travel opportunities, such as walking, cycling and horse riding will be increased along with biodiversity which the Parish Council support as part of their Climate Emergency Declaration.
Banwell is a community, not just a traffic jam.
Has any consideration been given to traffic lights in Banwell rather than building a bypass?
The most common suggestion for solving Banwell’s problems over the years has been traffic lights. In the past it has been concluded that they would not work given the criteria that traffic lights must meet.
Traffic lights would not solve the issues because there are 5 roads that come onto the square (the junction of East Street / West Street) which, if implemented, would mean that every road would have to take turns going through a traffic light system potentially causing significantly longer and more frequent queues on the roads leading into the village.
The problem for the implementation of traffic lights has always been Castle Hill, Church Street and High Street which are all single lane from The Square. Traffic lights need to have a significant stretch of the road where moving traffic can pass queued traffic which wouldn’t be possible on High Street.
Because the traffic lights would need to be located some distance away from the centre, the clearance time for traffic between each light change would be substantial (to accommodate horses, farm machinery and cyclists etc) which would mean queues through Banwell increasing. The danger with long red-light times is driver frustration potentially believing the signals to have failed and jumping the lights. There was also concern that long queues would cause pollution levels to increase further out of the village. Another concern raised by residents, along High Street /West Street / Castle Hill / Church Street, is vehicle speeds going through the centre of the village. As drivers would know there was nothing coming there is a potential for speeding along this stretch and therefore making it more dangerous to leave their properties.
A traffic light system will also do nothing to improve air quality in Banwell from standing vehicle pollution and possibly make it worse given it would be queued throughout the day and not just parts of the day.
Can access for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) be restricted through Banwell, Winscombe and Sandford?
It is difficult to completely restrict the movement of HGVs as they are allowed to use any classification of road to collect from or deliver to individual properties - even if there is a weight restriction in place (unless it is a physical restriction such as a weight limit for a weak bridge).
However, there is already an HGV restriction on the A371 through Winscombe. The A371 onto the A368 is the current HGV route between Weston-super-Mare and Churchill. A bypass would enable the number of HGVs to be significantly reduced through Banwell and there is the opportunity for Thatcher’s vehicles to use the bypass than travelling through Churchill / Sandford as they do currently.
We have been told that further analysis will be undertaken around HGV movements during the development of the bypass’ design.
Better connections are needed for walking and cycling, especially:
- Better connection from Banwell to the Strawberry Line.
- Make Wolvershill Road a safer route for cycling to Worle/WsM.
Providing improved active and sustainable travel opportunities between local villages and Weston-super-Mare meets the criteria for the Parish Councils Climate Emergency and it is also one of the bypass’ scheme objectives.
Active and sustainable travel includes walking, cycling and horse riding. Opportunities have been identified by the North Somerset Bypass Team for improvements to the active and sustainable travel network around Banwell including: the potential for better connections for walkers and cyclists between Weston-super-Mare and the Strawberry Line, and the potential for making Wolvershill Road more attractive for walking and cycling.
North Somerset Council is looking at how they can implement these measures in the development of the scheme’s design and will present them at the next public consultation due to launch in the coming weeks.
An east-west cycleway or footway through Banwell would be more direct and convenient than one along the bypass.
It is hoped that a bypass of Banwell would remove most of the traffic from the village, which would provide opportunities to improve the existing walking and cycling routes through the village. The removal of traffic alone would improve both the quality and safety of journeys through Banwell on foot, by bike or by horse.
It is understood that other measures are under consideration to further improve and enhance the centre of Banwell such as better active travel routes and facilities, additional road crossings and shared public spaces.
A new footpath/cycleway running alongside the Banwell bypass is being proposed in addition to – rather than as a replacement for – walking and cycling improvements being considered through Banwell village.
Could 20mph speed limits be implemented in Banwell and other surrounding communities?
North Somerset Council is looking at options to reduce impacts of the bypass and improve road safety in Banwell, the surrounding villages and on routes towards Weston-super-Mare, including speed limit changes. North Somerset Council will present these measures in more details at the next public consultation which will launch in the coming weeks.
Why is there no proposal to link direct into the M5 further north?
A connection between the proposed bypass and the M5 was not part of the bypass funding bid. As a result, the connection is not being explored by North Somerset Council in the design.
How is the scheme being ‘future-proofed’ for future traffic demand? Would it not need to be upgraded to a dual carriageway in the future?
Based on capacity, North Somerset Council don’t believe that the existing levels of traffic nor the expected volumes of future bypass traffic justify a full dual carriageway. A busier dual carriageway would be more likely to discourage active and sustainable travel along the bypass route. It would also be inconsistent with the surrounding local road network.
What are the impacts of the Southern Link on the groundwater Source Protection Zone (SPZ)?
Using the findings of the ground investigations (to understand the nature, extent and depths of the aquifer and overlaying soil), the scheme design will be developed to prevent any potential impacts on the Source Protection Zone (SPZ), (such as infiltration from the road drainage) and minimise ground disturbance as far as is reasonably practicable.
We understand that the relevant authorities are being consulted throughout the design process and engagement with the Environment Agency and Bristol Water is already in progress. The Environmental Statement, when published, will include a Hydrogeological Impact Assessment which will outline any impacts on the SPZ. For further information. Head to page 33 of the bypass consultation document.
Does the traffic modelling take future traffic increases into account? When will this data be made publicly available?
We understand that North Somerset Council’s traffic modelling will assess future traffic increases on the existing highway network both with and without the bypass that result from general population growth and known / planned development in the area.
We have been told that traffic modelling data is still in draft and will be made publicly available when a planning application is submitted for the scheme (thought to be Summer /Autumn 2022) but that they will provide an update on progress on the traffic modelling at the next consultation.
How many houses will be built in Banwell?
In 2019, North Somerset Council successfully secured £97.1 million of funding from Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to deliver the infrastructure designed to benefit existing communities and support the delivery of 7,557 new homes. 4,482 of these new homes will be located and are currently under construction at the existing Weston Villages development sites of Haywood Village and Locking Parklands.
The location of the remaining 3075 homes will be subject to the new Local Plan process. As such, their exact location is yet to be decided. The location of these homes will be consulted on as part of North Somerset Council’s upcoming Local Plan consultation (due in the Spring).
Why can’t we use the Hinkley Point Haulage Road near Towerhead instead of building the bypass?
The haul road being used by the National Grid has been granted under what’s called a DCO (Development Consent Order) – this allows them to build a road for temporary construction usage on the condition that land is reinstated after works have been completed. The National Grid’s temporary haul road cuts through a much larger extent of the AONB than the proposed southern link road. As such, a permanent road along that route would have a much greater impact on the Mendip Hills AONB and the local environment.
In addition, the timescales of the funding agreement with Homes England to deliver the bypass do not align with the programme of delivery for Hinkley Point, which further prevents using their haul route as an alternative.
Do we need to build the Southern Link Road?
Both North Somerset and the Parish Council believe the answer to this question is yes. Whilst we understand that there will be households that are adversely affected by the proposals, we are working with North Somerset to mitigate these where possible.
The southern link is designed to be a single carriageway road, linking the A368 (East Street) to the A371 (Castle Hill). A T-junction on East Street will provide a connection from the southern link back into Banwell
The benefits of providing the southern link, delivered together with the bypass, would be:
- Significantly fewer vehicles would need to continue to use the A368/A371 junction and the narrow sections of West Street, resulting in less congestion and air and noise pollution.
- Through traffic, would be removed from Castle Hill increasing the opportunities for walking, cycling and horse-riding.
- Heavy Goods Vehicles could be restricted from using West Street and Castle Hill (except for access), which would protect the properties along the narrow stretches from damage.
Will traffic still come down Castle Hill?
In the current scheme, Castle Hill and Dark Lane would no longer be through roads for vehicles, but pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders would still be able to use them.
Will bats be affected?
We are aware of bat roosts in the area and we understand North Somerset have undertaken several surveys to minimise the impact on bats in the bypass’ design. They are also working with statutory environmental bodies to ensure any impacts on bats are fully mitigated.
Will the bypass provide better links to neighbouring villages?
The bypass will provide a faster and more reliable route to and from Weston and local villages. In addition, it is hoped that opportunities for improved walking, cycling and horse riding made possible through the scheme, will provide better connectivity for more sustainable travel between villages.
Will traffic increase?
We understand that the commissioned traffic modelling data is still in draft and will be made publicly available when a planning application is submitted for the scheme and an update on progress with the traffic modelling at the next consultation.
Though the number of vehicles using the roads through the surrounding villages is likely to increase as fewer people use the current rat runs and as more houses (which have already been given permission) are built, it is understood that there are features being considered as part of design to reduce the impacts of that traffic increase.
What other road improvements will there be?
We have been told that the bypass scheme includes a package of improvements to local villages and the local road network. The current proposals for local improvements have been partly informed by the useful feedback received from residents in the first consultation and the working group sessions.
Work to design the bypass and other improvements to the area have not yet been completed. North Somerset will next be presenting their progress on these for you to comment at the second bypass consultation due to be held in the coming weeks.
Where will the houses go?
North Somerset Council is not yet able to confirm locations for new housing. The location of new homes in the area will be subject to the new Local Plan process. The Local Plan team will be holding a consultation (due in the spring) on their proposals in the coming months. This consultation is separate to the bypass scheme.
Why can’t we just improve public transport instead?
We understand that North Somerset Council has in the past considered making improvements to public transport and active travel opportunities (walking, cycling and horse-riding) in Banwell but these were not taken forward. Though these measures would meet some of the scheme’s environmental and sustainability objectives, they would not sufficiently address the existing traffic problems in the village.
Generally, improvements to both public transport and sustainable travel choices across North Somerset are being progressed by North Somerset Council with an aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. These improvements will promote active travel and sustainable travel and complement the bypass.
Watch this space for updates. More questions and answers will be added as information becomes available.