Implications of the Banwell Bypass for Winscombe

An article by Robin Jeacocke

Implications of the proposed Banwell Bypass for A371 traffic within central Winscombe

Proceeding eastwards through Banwell, the A371 east-west Primary Route bifurcates to become firstly the East Street component (now the A368 – but maintaining the Primary Route status), and secondly the A371 route through Winscombe. Because this latter route is constricted in places, with various pinch-points, it is at present 7.5-tonne limited. It does, however, carry considerable traffic.

At the eastern end of Banwell, the traffic flow along Banwell West Street divides into two approximately equal parts:  East Street (A368) towards Sandford and Castle Hill (A371) towards Winscombe.  But the important difference is that here A371, to the southeast of Banwell, carries (at present) very few HGVs. If the proposed bypass is implemented, however, the circumstances will change profoundly.

Consequences for Winscombe of the proposal for the southern (A371) component of the Bypass:

It is proposed to bypass Castle Hill (single-way working) with a new road ascending (very conspicuously) the northern slopes of Mendip, within the AONB, to re-join the present A371 alignment approximately at the junction with Wint Hill and The Rhodyate. Crucially, we should note that this proposed new road cannot continue to be 7.5tonne limited.

Castle Hill is only the first obstacle which large vehicles will face when (just 2 to 3km away) they have to negotiate Winscombe itself. There are five of these obstacles (NW to SE):

1 The Francis Fox Railway Bridge carrying A371 under the Strawberry Line and offering only single-way working since the road-width here (a) reduces to 3.0m, (b) offers a maximum headroom of only 4.0m and (c) is also unfortunately subject to flooding.

2 A right-angle bend at Browns Corner – this is a bend which an articulated HGV can only negotiate by using the full road width (and thus moving onto the wrong side of the road).

3 On-street parking along A371 somewhat obstructs Winscombe High Street. What would be the consequences here of a parking ban?

4 Another approximately right-angle bend at the southern end of the High Street and posing further problems for an articulated HGV (similar to those at Browns Corner, although admittedly they are somewhat less severe).

5 A371 traffic-light controlled intersection with A38 at Sidcot. The constriction here also poses serious left-turning problems for an artic. and requires occupation of the opposing road-space. However, it seems (possible?) that North Somerset may contemplate using Government funding to create a roundabout here.

It is evident that major re-engineering is required along this route. The Banwell Bypass Plans make no mention of these various serious bottlenecks which lurk just down the road.

A possible Winscombe Bypass was rejected after the report of the Banwell Area Transport Study 2001 (JMP Consultants Ltd). Today it would be very hard to implement such a Bypass.

Robin Jeacocke

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