A major £150,000 scheme to replace a failing water pipe will close the main road through Langton Matravers in Dorset for two months at the start of 2024.
Wessex Water is to dig up a 275 metre stretch of the village high street between Serrells Mead and the Steppes, starting on Wednesday 3rd January 2024 – and the essential work will cause traffic disruption for nine weeks.
The High Street marked in red, between Serrells Mead and the Steppes will be closed. Crack Lane and Haycrafts Lane will be access only, meaning that traffic between Langton Matravers and Swanage will have to take a seven mile diversion via Kingston
Fears over ‘rat run’ traffic
The official seven and a half mile diversion from Langton Matravers to Swanage will take traffic via Kingston, and then onto the A351 Valley Road on the outskirts of Corfe Castle, before heading down to Swanage.
Morebus is to put on a minibus feeder for the village to connect the west side of the closure to Corfe Castle and Norden car park. This will then link with the main 40 bus service, with route timings to be released closer to the closure dates.
But while the villagers are largely understanding about the need for the work, they are worried that drivers who use Langton Matravers as a cut through to reach Swanage may cause traffic chaos when they find the High Street is shut.
Local campaigners say that the village has been plagued for years by speeding cars which avoid the main A351, which has led to a successful bid for a 20 miles per hour speed limit along the High Street.
Langton Matravers’ High Street will be closed for nine weeks in early 2024 for major water works
Morebus will put on feeder minibus services while its main fleet cannot pass through the village
“Wessex Water has been excellent”
Langton Matravers parish councillor Ian Vaughan Arbuckle said:
“I have to say that Wessex Water has been quite excellent in making sure that the village was aware from the very beginning that this major work was looming up. If the execution of its plan is as good as the forward planning it should all go pretty smoothly.
“It has produced a map with timings and all the information for every single house in this village, which was brilliant, and furthermore it sent a representative to a parish council meeting to answer any further questions.”
Parish councillor Ian Vaughan Arbuckle says that Wessex Water has been brilliant so far
“We need to prevent a snarl up”
Councillor Ian Vaughan Arbuckle added:
“However, there are still highways matters to be resolved by Dorset Council – we want to try to prevent people who use Langton Matravers as a rat run from taking Haycrafts Lane, off the A351 at Harmans Cross then turning left onto the B3069 trying to bomb through the village.
“During the works it will be a no through road, so we are trying to get Dorset Highways to sign in advance that the route will not be passable.
“Also, to prevent a complete traffic snarl up in Langton, we want Crack Lane to become a one way system as it is very tight down there and difficult to pass other traffic.
“If people have no intention of stopping in Langton, there should be no reason for them to come up here.”
Homes at Steppes will find themselves in the middle of the works for several weeks
While the High Street is closed, the official diversion from Langton Matravers to Swanage via Kingston is more than seven miles
Major scheme to improve water supply
Wessex Water say the pipes are now getting so old that there is no shortcut to fix them and that they have to be replaced – and as they run down the centre of the road the only way to do that is to stop the traffic. There will be special arrangements made for all those who live in affected roads.
A Wessex Water spokesperson said:
“This is a major investment of nearly £150,000 towards improving the quality of water supply throughout Langton Matravers by replacing an ageing main.
“A two month rolling road closure will be in place along the B3069 (High Street / Coombe Hill) road in the village starting from Serrells Mead and continuing along towards Steppes, followed by three-way traffic lights for a day to complete connections.
“We initially wrote to customers and businesses throughout the village about this project earlier this autumn and will do so again a few weeks before the start of the scheme in early January, following our meeting with the parish council in October at which we briefed them about the work.
“We have continued to work closely with Dorset Council with regard to digital signs being placed on the A351 to advise road users and apologise for any inconvenience caused by this essential project, which is expected to be completed by Friday 8th March 2024.”