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A358 Update

March 2018

A 358 Proposed Upgrade

Response from Neroche Parish Council





Neroche Parish strongly favours the Pink Route option.


In addition to the proposed cross-over points, in or adjacent to Neroche, we would like to see another cross-over point at Bickenhall lane, an option strongly favoured by the local farming community.


Local roads accessing cross-over points are in a poor state and will rapidly deteriorate further if subjected to increased traffic.


It is strongly recommended that the proposed retained section of the existing A358 between Ashill and Hatch Beauchamp (for use as a local service road) should be extended further North West to Bickenhall Lane.  It is essential the new dual carriageway is built to the North East of this retained stretch of road


We do not wish to see additional slip roads joining the new dual carriageway from local roads in the area of Neroche Parish.


We believe that unless the Ilminster by-pass section of the A303 is upgraded to a dual carriageway, and improvements are made to the Southfields Roundabout, potential benefit from upgrading the A358 will be lost, as congestion at these points will still result in long delays to through traffic.





1.1. Observations


1.1.1. Local impact of the three proposed routes on Neroche Parish is identical.  The Blue and Pink proposals are an improvement on the original Orange route as they both offer a connection to the Nexus 25 development site, an objective strongly supported locally.


1.1.2.   The Pink option more closely follows the route of the existing A358 than the Blue or Orange routes, this reduces the impact on the majority of adjoining parishes.  It also avoids a junction with the main road at West Hatch Lane, which would impact on quite unsuitable local roads,



1.2. Opinion


 1.2.1. We believe the proposed Pink Route is preferable because it:


- Connects to Nexus 25


- Follows the existing route of the main road more closely


- Avoids a junction at West Hatch Lane


- Reduces the impact on the majority of adjoining parishes





2.1. Observation


2.1.1.   Cross-over points in section 2 will have major implications for Neroche Parish, due to restrictions on local access and increased traffic on some local roads.  Some of the approach roads on the Neroche side are in a poor state of repair.


2.1.2.   Proposed Crossing-Point at Griffin Lane.   Griffin Lane is a narrow, single track road, unsuitable for large vehicles. There are very limited passing places.


2.1.3.   Proposed Crossing-Point Between Bickenhall and Hatch Beauchamp.   Capland Lane is accessed on the Neroche side by a narrow, single track road, impassable by large vehicles including agricultural machinery.  There are few passing places, and roadside houses and a deep stream gully make widening of pinch points unrealistic, all of which makes the road wholly unsuitable for any increased traffic usage.


2.1.4.   Proposed Crossing-Point at Stewley.   Stewley Lane would probably end up taking most of the South West to North East local cross-over traffic.  Some of the approach roads on the Neroche side are in a poor state of repair.

2.1.5.   Proposed Junction ‘G’.   Junction G will provide a cross-over point as well as a route onto the main road.  Access to it via Ashill also involves small, country roads.


2.1.6.   Junction ‘E’.   Junction E is only part of the Blue and Orange options, but if one of these is selected it will provide a crossing-point which includes access to the retained original A358 and via this to the A378, another busy local road.  Access via West Hatch Lane involves use of narrow, winding roads with few passing places.  It is unsuitable for increased use, especially by HGV.



2.2. Opinion


2.2.1.   Proposed Crossing-Point at Griffin Lane.   Griffin Lane is only suitable for the light traffic currently using it.  The risk of increased use following closure of alternative crossing-points must be reduced by improved warning to users unfamiliar with it, using better signage and clearer indications of its unsuitability on satellite navigation systems and other digital mapping services.


2.2.2.   Proposed Crossing-Point from Bickenhall to Hatch Beauchamp.   Capland Lane access on the Neroche side is unusable for many HGV’s and larger farm traffic movements due to the narrow road width, tight bends and lack of passing places. These vehicles currently use Bickenhall Lane to access areas west of the A358, a road designated unsuitable for HGV’s.  If this crossing-point is retained it will not meet the requirements of a suitable access road and will therefore require improved signage indicating its unsuitability for large vehicles, as for Griffin Lane.


2.2.3.   Proposed Crossing-Point at Stewley.   The Stewley proposed crossing-point provides slightly better access roads than the cross over points proposed at Griffin Lane or Hatch Beauchamp. However, work may be needed on some access roads because of the poor state of the road surface, which will rapidly deteriorate even further if used by more heavy traffic.


2.2.4.   Proposed Junction ‘G’.   Access roads to Junction G are likely to see heavier use by local traffic including HGV and farm vehicles. This may impact on the local community.


2.2.5.   Junction ‘E’.   Junction E has the following undesirable features-


- poor access via West Hatch Lane


- more complex access to the A378


One of the reasons for preference of the Pink Route is that Junction E would not exist. If an option which includes it is selected the connection to West Hatch Lane should be re-considered.



2.3. Additional Options


2.3.1.    A New Cross-Over Point at Bickenhall Lane    In addition to the proposed Bickenhall to Hatch Beauchamp crossing-point, a further cross-over point is needed at Bickenhall Lane.  Although Bickenhall Lane on the Neroche side is far from ideal, and will require some modifications, it is at least passable by the majority of vehicles. Bickenhall Lane on the Hatch Beauchamp side, however, is less accommodating and further modification may be required.  A cross-over point here will help reduce traffic on other less suitable routes. This is also the option preferred by the local farming community.


2,3,2.   Retention Of Existing Carriageway From Ashill to Hatch Beauchamp.   We strongly support retention of the existing A358 carriageway from Ashill to Hatch Beauchamp, running alongside the new dual carriageway, with existing access roads in this section retained so it can act as a local service road. We think the new dual carriageway should be to the East/North of the existing road. Essentially, this retained section should be extended from Ashill to Bickenhall Lane rather than just to Capland Lane, with access from the new cross-over points.  However, we would not wish to see additional slip roads connecting to the new dual carriageway.





3.1. Observations           


3.1.1. The current plan does not allow for any significant improvements to the Southfields Roundabout.  At present, gridlock can be caused by: seasonal traffic increases; vehicle breakdowns; or even the most minor accident in the area of the roundabout or its feeder roads.


3.1.2.   The A303 Ilminster by-pass is an inherently dangerous road and traffic is often slowed dramatically or brought to a standstill by increased traffic levels, accidents or vehicle breakdowns.



3.2.   Opinion


3.2.1.   Southfields Roundabout should be upgraded, to allow for a seamless traffic flow to-and-from the A303/A30 and the A358. Also, a flyover should be included to take traffic directly from the A303 Ilminster By-pass to the continuation of the A303/A30. Vehicles wishing to take the local Ilminster or Chard roads would drop down onto the existing roundabout.


3.2.2.   The A303 Ilminster By-Pass should be converted to a dual carriageway as part of the proposed upgrading scheme.


3.2.3.   Unless the Southfields Roundabout is upgraded and the Ilminster By-Pass converted to dual carriageway, the upgrading of the A358 will be pointless.  No matter how well the A358 is upgraded, the traffic will continue to regularly hit a virtual brick wall at the Southfields Roundabout, with traffic backing up as far as Thornfalcon.





4.1. Observations


4.1.1. We have been made aware that at least two local parish councils are considering submitting proposals for entry/exit slip roads to join the upgraded A358 where it passes between Bickenhall and Hatch Beauchamp.  This option would vastly increase traffic movements in Neroche and Hatch Beauchamp Village, over a totally inadequate road infrastructure. 


4.2. Opinion


4.2.1. Traffic in Taunton wishing to join the upgraded A358 at junction 25  will have to negotiate the already congested areas of Toneway, Wickes Roundabout, the dual carriageway passing Hankridge and the Junction 25  roundabout.  If entry/exit slipways were established  at Bickenhall/Hatch Beauchamp, the obvious temptation would be for Taunton Town-Centre traffic to take the B3170 (South Road) out of Taunton, go over the motorway bridge, turn left at Shoreditch Road, travel on to Staple Fitzpaine, turn left at the Greyhound Inn, then on to the A358 access point at Bickenhall.  Most of this route is already a ‘rat run’ during the rush hour for traffic heading to Broadway and beyond.  The road infrastructure in Neroche Parish, and particularly in Bickenhall, is totally inadequate to accept such increases in traffic volumes.  For this reason we oppose additional entry/exit points connecting local roads with the new dual carriageway.



February 2018

Extraordinary Meeting of Neroche Parish Council

Neroche Parish Council held an Extraordinary Meeting at Neroche Hall on Monday 19th February at 7.30pm to discuss the Supplementary Consultation on the proposed upgrade of the A358.  The public are encouraged to attend.

Please click here to see the agenda with further details

Please click here to see Highways England website with details of proposed optional routes and other information.


January 2018


Supplementary Consultation venues remaining

Wednesday 21st February   St Mary's Village Hall, Stoke St Mary, Ta3 5BY, 9.30am-12.30pm

Wednesday 21st February   Ruishton village hall, Ruiston, TA3 5JD, 2pm-5.30pm


August 2017

Supplementary Consultation




A358 upgrade proposal – the response from Neroche Parish Council to initial consultation

1.  The local view

Since the plans for the above scheme were announced the Council has discussed the issue at two parish council meetings, one of which was an extraordinary parish council meeting at which views were invited from the 70+ households present. The conclusions based on these discussions are as follows.


2.  The consultation is flawed


2.1   Insufficient detail of the proposed junctions and cross over routes is included in the proposal   There is a question over junction C and lack of clarity over how other junctions will work.

Cross over routes for local traffic are essential but there are no details of these at all. Without this we cannot adequately assess the impact on local residents and businesses.

Further consultation once these details are available is essential.


 3.  The overall form of the scheme is challenged


3.1 The main aim of the plan is to create a fast route from London and its surroundings into      Devon and Cornwall.  Upgrading the A358 is not the only way to do this. Many local residents feel this could be achieved better by upgrading the A303/A30 west of Ilminster, towards Honiton and Exeter. This would avoid exacerbating the existing congestion on the M5 at times of peak use, especially holiday periods.

3.2 Relief of existing congestion could be achieved by improvement to junctions at the Southfields roundabout and M5 Junction 25, which are the main cause of delays when the road is busy. The main carriageway is not usually the cause of problems.  The 3 lane Ilminster bypass section of the A303 is also a cause of delays where two lanes of traffic need to merge into one lane. Even if the A358 is improved this problem will continue and if it is not solved it will limit benefit from the proposed upgrade. The Ilminster bypass needs to be upgraded as a matter of urgency to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety.

3.3 Alternative options for upgrading the A358 are not considered. We are content with the proposed route from the Southfields roundabout to West Hatch Lane but believe that after that the road should continue along the existing route, with the addition of a bypass for Henlade and access to the new commercial site.


3.4 Congestion issues

Unless the pinch points at Southfields Roundabout and the M5 are rectified, the impact of the proposal will be that traffic will travel from one bottleneck to another. Traffic is often stationary on the A303 Ilminster Bypass during summer weekends. Dualling this road and relieving congestion points at either end would largely remove the need to dual the A358. The M5 is often at a standstill during peak holiday times, which supports the argument for dualling the A30/A303 west of Ilminster as well, to avoid adding to this congestion.


4.  More local details are needed 

4.1  Access to the new road will inevitably be restricted by the nature of the new road. However local businesses rely on the A358 to supply them and deliver their goods.  This is largely done by heavy goods vehicles.  The present plan would force these vehicles onto a small number of minor roads which could not cope with this in their present form. Many roads in Neroche Parish are single track lanes with few passing points and these struggle to cope with existing levels of traffic. There is no capacity to cope with an increase in traffic. We realise that increasing the number of junctions is unrealistic but consideration needs to be given to how local traffic will access the proposed junctions  and how improvements away from the main carriageway will be planned and funded.

4.2  Access across the new road is essential for local businesses and residents. These are numerous at present, even if in places such journeys involve short sections of travel on the A358.  While this will not be possible under the new scheme maintenance of as many existing crossing points as possible is essential, even if this needs some additional work at those which are no longer an exact match since construction of the Hatch Beauchamp bypass some years ago.  If crossing points are restricted those which remain will see increased use, imposing strain on the small local roads leading to them.  Some at least of these crossing points must be able to accommodate HGV and large farm vehicles.  It must also be agreed how any road improvements needed to facilitate them will be funded. Many of the local surrounding roads are unsuitable for HGVs.

4.3  Commercial and farm vehicles are an essential part of the local economy.  These join, leave and cross over the A358 without undue difficulty but will not be able to do so with the new road.  Restrictions imposed on such traffic will increase journey times and lengths and increase fuel consumption.  This will all increase pressure on local businesses even though one declared aim of the plan is to help them.  Some farm vehicles will not be able to use the new road at all.  Provision for them must be made but there is no information in the proposal as to how this will be achieved.

Many local farmers farm land situated either side of the current A358 (often with direct access) and this access will need to be maintained.

4.4 Leisure activities

The area is popular with cyclists, horseriders and ramblers. No account appears to have been taken with regard to non-vehicular traffic, and in particular its safety. Neroche Parish has several established livery companies and younger inexperienced riders regularly use the surrounding  roads. The parish also has two well used long distance footpaths, the East Deane Way and the Neroche Herepath. It is a popular location for cyclists and regularly hosts cycling events.


5.   What we wish to see      


5.1 Consideration of alternative and less disruptive ways to achieve a fast road from the M3 into the South West by

- Improving existing junctions at Southfields and M5 Junction 25 to improve traffic flow

- A plan to remove bottlenecks caused by the three lane Ilminster bypass, ideally by dualling it.

- Eventual upgrade to the A303/A30 to provide an alternative route not using the M5

5.2 If the above idea is not followed a direct link from the new section of the A358 to the employment site near Junction 25 should be considered.

5.3 Greater clarity over how proposed junctions can work without increasing pressure on small local access roads.

5.4 More detail about how many cross over routes there will be and what form they will take.

5.5 Greater assurance over what works to facilitate access to junctions and cross over points will be undertaken and how this will be funded.

5.6 Further detailed discussions with local councils.


Neroche Parish Council

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Number 99 Bus service

Taunton - Chard Bus Timetable

Click here for daily timetable


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Broadband Update




Latest Broadband News

Latest news from the Gigaclear website 

Very good news

There has been a change in the information on the Gigaclear website relating to the rollout of the fibre to the premises to our parish. It now reads:

"We are delighted to confirm that soon, we will start building a brand new ultrafast fibre network in your community. During the rollout, we will progressively connect properties as we build and will keep you informed throughout the process. To receive regular updates on the build progress, simply register with us"

You can register with Gigaclear for information to their website.  This does not commit you to connecting to the fibre network when it passes your property.  Please note that we are what Gigaclear calls the Buckland St Mary (South West) area.

Click here to go to the Gigaclear website page.


December 2017 update

It is now possible to go to the Connecting Devon and Somerset website to get confirmation that your premises is in the area due to receive a broadband fibre connection. 

There is no official timetable yet available for when fibre will arrive in the parish but a source in Gigaclear believes that the survey work will be done by February 2018 and the fibre laid later that year.  All are strongly recommended to register an interest in the scheme via the CDS website.  It brings access to information when it is available with no commitment to ever use the system.

There is concern that the fibre serving a premises is due to be delivered by Gigaclear to a connection point on the nearest adopted (council) road.  This is reasonable for those with premises near the road but it would prove costly for those where the distance is greater, for example for those living on an unadopted drove or bridleway, or for those on whose premises is far from their boundary next to the road.


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From our parish clerk

20th June 2017

Somerset County Council Finger Post Sign Project


Somerset County Council is currently co-ordinating a project aimed at surveying and refurbishing all historic finger post signs within the county. This involves carrying out a condition survey on each individual finger post; identifying the work required to restore it; and, where practically possible, carrying out those restoration works.

The survey and refurbishment work involved will be carried out in each parish area by local volunteers. Somerset County Council is providing training workshops to assist these volunteers so that surveys and refurbishment works can be carried out competently and safely. Only volunteers who have successfully completed a training workshop will be allowed to carry out survey and refurbishment works on finger post signs. Work involving major refurbishment and/or in a dangerous location will be carried out by suitably qualified and approved contractors’ only.


Training workshops are scheduled for Tuesday the 18th July 2017 at Ruishton (Village Hall) and Tuesday the 25th July at Somerton (Edgar Hall). It is recommended that a minimum of three people per Parish Council should attend a training workshop. (Editors note: The workshops start at 9.30am and finish at 13.30pm).


Please can you let me know the names of those volunteers within your parish that would be willing to attend a training workshop and which of the two dates they would prefer to attend.


Please respond by Friday 30th June to


Please note places on the workshops are limited and some volunteers may be offered an alternative date.



Kind regards

Angie Cavanagh

Technical Support Officer

Somerset County Council

B2 West

County Hall

Taunton     TA1 4DY



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