Working to keep Chepstow on the move
Three local councils join forces to improve traffic and transport links across the border between Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire.
With the removal of the tolls on the Severn Bridge crossing and hundreds of houses planned for each side of the River Wye, concerns have been growing about the effect on traffic and travel in the area.
To help tackle the issue, Forest of Dean District Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Gloucestershire County Council have been working together.
Last year the councils commissioned stage one of a feasibility study known as the ‘Chepstow Transport Study’ which examined what needs to be done to improve transport links across the border and meet the future growth of traffic in Chepstow, including the potential of a Chepstow/Sedbury bypass.
On Monday 28th January the three councils, and representatives from the Forest Economic Partnership, met in the Forest of Dean to discuss the findings of the study and give their commitment to lobby MPs and help facilitate progress.
Stage One of the study identified 20 different options. It recommended that some options progress to Stage Two including five long-term proposals and some quick wins such as better public transport integration, upgrading walking and cycling routes and reducing the need to travel.
The long-term options included improvements to rail links, a new junction on the M48 plus the creation of a Chepstow Bypass through Sedbury and Beachley which will provide a direct link between the A48 to the east of Chepstow and the M48 with a new bridge crossing over the River Wye.
The next challenge will be to fund and commission Stage Two of the Business Case which will investigate the economic, environmental and social implications for the proposed bypass, along with looking at possible timescales. (The various stages of the business case conforms with the English and Welsh ‘Transport Assessment Guidance’ processes).
Cllr Tim Gwilliam, Leader of Forest of Dean District council said, “The road and transport issues for residents in and around Sedbury and Tutshill are very clear. It was a privilege to host last week’s meeting. The most important thing now is that our councils can find the funding needed to move forward with the next set of studies. People living and working in the Forest of Dean, Monmouthshire and the wider Gloucestershire area will all benefit from our councils taking a collaborative approach to transport so I look forward to our future talks.”
Cllr Nigel Moor, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet member for environment and planning said, “We recognise that for many of our residents, visitors and businesses improved transport access to the south west of our county is needed to maximise the positive opportunities the removal of the tolls on the Severn crossings have to offer. I welcome the findings of the ‘Chepstow Transport Study’ which makes a valuable contribution by highlighting potential improvements and pledge that we will continue to work with our partner councils to build on the findings of the study so we can make the necessary improvements become a reality.”
Cllr Bryan Jones, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for county operations said, “The problems surrounding travel, on public transport and road, in The South East of Monmouthshire and the Forest of Dean are well known and can only get worse without collaboration and intervention by the local authorities, Westminster and Welsh Government. This is an important first step and we look forward to working with our neighbouring authorities and governments to arrive at a set of proposals that effectively improve transport links and also ways in which these may be funded”.