ALL of Chard’s new relief road will be delivered – but not necessarily in the right order.

It may sound like a line from a Morecambe and Wise sketch, but the decision could have serious implications for the town in the years ahead.

South Somerset District Council identified the need for an eastern relief road (ERR) in Chard in its Local Plan, in order to take pressure off the town centre.

Six years after the plan was formally adopted in March 2015, not a single metre of the new road has been delivered – and the first possible section that could be built may end up being the section that was intended to be built last.

Here’s where things stand with the ERR and Chard’s housing growth…

What is the ERR – and where will it go?

The proposed route of the ERR was laid out in the council’s Local Plan, and is intended to stretch from the A358 Tatworth Road to the A30 Crewkerne Road.

The ERR will be delivered in sections as part of housing developments within the Chard Eastern Development Area (CEDA), which will deliver up to 2,700 new homes, 17 hectares of employment land and two new primary schools for the town.

Chard & Ilminster News: The Chard Eastern Development Area (CEDA), Including Details Of Confirmed Developments And Proposed Route Of The Eastern Relief Road. CREDIT: South Somerset District Council. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

Starting from the south, the road will begin at a new roundabout on the A358 and cross the B3162 Forton Road to the east of the existing houses.

It will then move north around the back of the Lordleaze Hotel, skirting the edge of the current employment units on Millfield and join up with the A30 to the east of a new research and development facility being constructed by Numatic.

From there, improvements will be made to the existing roads on Oaklands Avenue and Touches Lane, with a new road cutting across Chaffcombe Lane (leading to Chard Reservoir) and rejoining the A358 near the junction with Thorndun Park Drive.

The council has originally intended for the road and associated improvements to be delivered from north to south – but this has been stymied by delays in bringing forward housing sites within the CEDA.

When will the first section be built?

The first section of the ERR which could realistically be delivered would be the section from the new Tatworth Road roundabout to the junction with Forton Road.

This section has been put forward as part of plans by Persimmon Homes South West for 252 new homes – plans which have been five years in the making.

Financial contributions towards the ERR have also been provided by the neighbouring Snowdon Grange development of 200 homes, which is currently being constructed by Kier Living South West.

Chard & Ilminster News: The Snowdon Grange Development Of 200 Homes, Seen From The B3162 Forton Road In Chard. CREDIT: Daniel Mumby. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

The council’s regulation committee was due to approve plans for the Persimmon site on April 20, but delayed a decision to ask for more information on traffic levels and the new schools.

Councillor Martin Wale – whose Blackdown and Tatworth ward includes the site – said at the time: “Every major application we’ve had over the last three years has emphasised the traffic point. Quite frankly, it’s completely nonsensical to believe Chard would be affected.

“When the distributor road will link up with the other sites is anybody’s guess – I don’t think it will in the near-future.”

The council said it was hopeful the committee would be able to reach a decision when it reconvenes on May 18.

What about the rest of the road?

The council said that the other sections of the ERR could be delivered ‘out of order’ – in other words, that the land to the north of Forton Road would not need to be developed next before improvements elsewhere were achieved.

A spokesman said: “The ERR phasing can be delivered out of sequence as long as each section does not compromise future phases of the CEDA allocated sites or the potential ERR delivery and its alignment.

“All stakeholders are aware of the potential location and alignment of the ERR, it is part of the adopted Local Plan and also in the preferred options in the Local Plan review.

“We could use compulsory purchase orders if necessary  but we will always prefer to work equitable with all stakeholders. There is no current resistance from any landowner to make land available.”

The council said it was currently reviewing all aspects of the ERR, making sure that improvements near Chaffcombe Lane would be of a sufficient quality and would not adversely impact on either the neighbouring homes or the nature reserve surrounding the reservoir (which is in the council’s ownership).

A spokesman said: “While we cannot control all aspects of the development process, we are working with developers and are keen for all the parcels to progress in line with the Local Plan.”