Optimism for Dorset – M4 links thanks to Budget announcements
Hopes of delivering a major road scheme to improve links between the Dorset coast and the M4 have been boosted by the budget.
The detailed report for chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak’s first budget included confirmation that funding would be given to study if there is a suitable case to enhance the route.
At present, motorists face around a two-hour journey if they were to complete the 65 miles of the A350 from its starting point just outside Port of Poole all the way to junction 17 of the M4, just north of Chippenham.
Many drivers currently favour travelling east on the A31 and M27 before taking the M3 and A34 to reach the London-South Wales Motorway.
Details on what the study for a case are currently limited, but the news was welcomed by MPs and councillors.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “We were delighted to see that chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that a formal study will explore the case for improvements to links between the M4 and the Dorset coast.
“We are waiting to hear the full details, but understand that this will look at all options for north-south connectivity throughout Dorset, with a particular focus on the routes from the ports at Portland and Poole.”
The funding for the study is part of Second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) – a government project to boost regional connectivity and transform connections through investment in England’s strategic routes.
It comes more than two years after the now abolished Dorset Council published a reported, alongside neighbouring councils, detailing an economic business case for inclusion in RIS2.
The benefits listed included: Dorset Council and our partners in Poole, Wiltshire and Bath and North-East Somerset carried out an economic study that identified the following potential gains from improved connectivity: 1,400 new jobs generated annually, £20.5bn generated to the economy, commercial goods reduced unit cost as journey times improve and tourism benefits.
Poole MP Sir Robert Syms said the A350 and A303 are key routes for the region.
He told the Daily Echo: “This is an issue we have always had. We have quite good connections going east. It is not as easy to go west and going north is almost impossible.
“Whatever road you have going north it will be going around Dorset villages. The issue is are the people in North Dorset going to be okay and happy with this. That is always the dilemma.
“If there was a better road it would help local business.”