The National Trust has now registered with the Planning Inspectorate as an Interested Party, to continue our engagement with the A417 Missing Link road scheme examination process. To register, all parties had to submit a Relevant Representation outlining a brief summary of position by 2nd September.For more information, download the National Trust’s relevant representation submission.
Crickley Hill and the A417 road improvement scheme
Crickley Hill and the A417 Road Improvement Scheme
The traffic problems caused by the A417 as it passes Crickley Hill are well known and the road continues to blight the area, as it has for many years. There is no doubt that high congestion and collision levels need to be addressed and the problem of the ‘Missing Link’ finally solved.
Crickley Hill is set within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding National Beauty and includes four designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It is nationally important because of its Iron-Age hill fort (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), ‘time capsule’ archaeology, limestone grassland, ancient woodland and diverse wildlife.
For these reasons, we welcome Highways England’s ambition to deliver an effective ‘landscape led’ road scheme that reflects the sensitive environment of this special place.
Reconnecting the landscape
At present the road divides Crickley Hill from Barrow Wake, Kilkenny and other key wildlife sites along the Cotswold escarpment.
We believe Highways England’s proposals present an opportunity to reconnect a disjointed landscape - improving habitats for nature and bringing benefits for people who wish to explore Crickley Hill and the wider landscape.
However, the scheme doesn’t yet provide enough protection for this special landscape and we are concerned that it will inflict additional harm.
Highways England recently announced a delay to the timeline of their planning application (Development Consent Order) while they respond to feedback received during the public consultation (held in October 2019) and re-think elements of the scheme.
This includes reviewing the proposed multi-purpose ‘green’ bridge, which (in the location identified in the statutory consultation) would have resulted in the destruction of a significant area of irreplaceable ancient woodland and the wildlife it supports (and therefore have a detrimental impact on the SSSI). Additionally, the habitats either side of the proposed bridge (at Crickley Hill and Barrow Wake) are different so species would not have an opportunity to spread across the landscape, as intended.
This scheme has the potential to showcase how a major road project can leave a lasting beneficial legacy for wildlife, delivering against the Government’s ambition to ‘build better, build greener’ and meeting the targets that will be set out in the Environment Bill (which aims to protect and improve the natural environment) once legislation is passed.
This is an important window of opportunity to create a lasting solution that includes measures to minimise the adverse impacts of new infrastucture in this delicate landscape and seeks to maximise the benefits. We, and our partner organisations, will continue to advocate for a solution that benefits the Cotswolds AONB, the environment and the local community.
Working in partnership
The National Trust shares joint ownership of the land at Crickley Hill with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT). We work together as custodians of this delicate, much-loved and well-used site to ensure it is protected for the enjoyment and benefit of both current and future generations.
GWT has also voiced its concerns about the route option currently proposed.
We have been in conversation with Highways England since 2016 and both charities are committed to working with Highways England as it seeks a landscape-led solution that can protect the views and setting of Crickley Hill; reconnect the wider landscape; and bring benefits to the local community and road users.
31 Aug 21
PINS Interested Party registration completed
30 Jun 21
Response to the announcement that the A417 ‘Missing Link’ road scheme has been accepted for examination
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) announced on 29 June 2021 that an application for the A417 'Missing Link' road scheme has been accepted for examination.
The National Trust has engaged with Highways England about its plans for a road scheme to ease traffic congestion on the A417 since it was first proposed. Although this engagement has resulted in positive changes, there are still opportunities to ensure the design of the new road meets the landscape-led vision, objectives and design principles that have been agreed by Highways England and other stakeholders. The road scheme must not only address safety and congestion issues but also bring the best outcomes for local communities and benefit the natural beauty, diverse wildlife and unique heritage of the Cotswolds National Landscape.
We are supportive of the landscape led vision of the road scheme, though we remain disappointed that the scheme still does not deliver biodiversity net gain. This means it fails to ensure wildlife habitats are in a better state than they were before the development. We will continue to work collaboratively with Highways England, key partners, and stakeholders, to unlock ways to achieve this through maximising the opportunities for biodiversity both within and outside the scheme boundary and developing landscape-scale Designated Funds initiatives to provide long-term benefit to this special landscape.
We want to see a well-designed scheme delivered, and remain committed to working with key partners, stakeholders, and Highways England. We will now examine the details of the documents submitted as part of the DCO process, to ensure that the final scheme delivers a lasting and beneficial legacy for this very special landscape, and the people and wildlife who call it home.
12 Nov 20
Our full response to the supplementary public consultation
Highways England's supplementary public consultation has now closed. If you would like to read our full response to the consultation, you can download it here: