CHARD residents remain no closer to finding out the proposed route of a relief road design to take traffic away from their town centre.

The Chard eastern relief road (ERR) is a crucial component of South Somerset District Council’s Local Plan (which runs until 2028), and is intended to complement the delivery of new homes to the south and east of the town.

The need for the road was identified when the Local Plan was published in 2015, and a report identifying the precise route of the road was due to be published in late-2022.

Somerset Council (which replaced the existing council in April) has now confirmed the report is still unfinished – leaving residents putting up with existing traffic jams and facing further uncertainty about the future of a local nature reserve.

Chard & Ilminster News: Oaklands Avenue in Chard.Oaklands Avenue in Chard. (Image: Daniel Mumby)

An indicative route for the Chard ERR was published in the South Somerset Local Plan – which makes reference to the different sections that will need to be delivered, but does not provide fine details over where the road will go.

Only one section of the entire ERR has been delivered to date – namely Oaklands Avenue, which runs north from A30 Crewkerne Road through the Oakwood estate (built by Morrish Homes) and currently terminates at the Chard Reservoir car park.

Four further sections were identified in the Local Plan to create “a continuous route to the east of the town from the A358 Furnham Road to the A358 Tatworth Road”, crossing the A30 via a new roundabout or crossroads.

These sections are:

  • A “new or upgraded route” between Oaklands Avenue and the A358 Furnham Road
  • The ‘Millfield Link Road’, stretching from the A30 near Oaklands House to the eastern edge of Millfield (running past Numatic’s planned research and development facility and ending on the former Oscar Mayor site, where the Numatic complex will shortly be expanded)
  • A connection between Millfield and the B3162 Forton Road (to the east of the Lordleaze Hotel)
  • A link between Forton Road and the A358 Tatworth Road, culminating in a new roundabout

Chard & Ilminster News: The junction at Chaffcombe Lane and Touches Lane.The junction at Chaffcombe Lane and Touches Lane. (Image: Daniel Mumby)

To the north of the A30, it is much less clear as to the precise route which the ERR will take.

There are two planned developments within this section – a 66-bed care home on a triangular portion of land between Furnham Road and Chaffcombe Lane, and 230 homes north of the A30 – but neither is expected to physically deliver any part of the ERR.

The A358 and A30 are technically already connected by a series of lanes, with motorists being able drive down Chaffcombe Lane, turn down Touches Lane and then onto Avishayes Road, which leads into the Oakwood estate.

David Bell, chairman of the Chard Area Resilience Group (CARG), stated in October 2022 that building over any part of the nature reserve would “devalue, not improve, residential amenity and will have a large environmental impact”

Peter Paddon, the district council’s acting director for place and recovery, responded at the time that no final route had been agreed, and this responsibility would fall upon the new Somerset Council.

He said: “The indicative route around the reservoir was shown to the south of the nature reserve. Before any construction can occur, any necessary environment works – including impact assessments – are required alongside planning permission.

“There will also be public consultation. The potential alignment options work, which is a work in progress, will inform the Local Plan review, and will be carried forward by the new unitary authority.”

Somerset Council has not provided any time-line for when the report will be published, stating that the proposals were currently being reviewed by planning and highways officers.

A spokesman said: “This important and complex piece of work is still in progress and currently being reviewed by the team. We will look to provide an update as soon as we can.”