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Improving north-south connections between the M4 and Dorset

We are working with other councils to build a case for better transport routes between the M4 and Dorset.

The problem

In the South West, key road routes travel from east to south-west but the links between them are poor. This is particularly the case between the M4 and the south coast. 

This is hindering economic growth and putting a burden on businesses by making travel and freight movement between the motorway and ports, including Poole and Portland, too time-consuming and costly.

As direct routes to the ports from the M4 continue to be used by hauliers instead of more suitable but longer routes, the quality of life for many residents of the towns and villages through which they pass is suffering.

The evidence

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
  • £16.5m in additional corporation tax revenues annually
  • £20.5bn generated to the economy
  • £342m additional GDP annually
  • increased revenue from personal income taxation
  • increase in economic output per worker
  • commercial goods reduced unit cost as journey times improve
  • dependent Development benefits (ie unlocking land value gain)
  • tourism benefits.

Read a summary of the economic case  and the full economic study

Next steps and timescale

Our ultimate aim is for Highways England to commit to an improved route through its Roads Investment Strategy (RIS). Before this can happen, the scheme must pass through several stages of development. Our immediate goal is for Highways England to undertake a strategic route study in or, ideally, before the next RIS period, between 2020 and 2025. This will develop the economic case further, but also look in detail at matters outside the scope of our economic study, such as engineering requirements and environmental challenges.

The councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships and industry are lobbying government and Highways England to keep the focus on this scheme ahead of key decision points in the development of the next RIS.

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