Agenda item

Meet Chris Hilldrup, Highways Agency

An introduction from Chris Hilldrup, Highways Agency, to explain his role as a local point of contact.




Chris Hilldrup - Route Manager Wiltshire, South West Operations at National Highways, accompanied by Paul Warner provided an overview of his role and area of current work.

Part of his work involved making sure the right people were brought together to progress workstreams, to identify area of need across the network and feasibility studies.

Chris would be working with the council at county hall once a week to enable cooperative working with the aim of being more present and joined up.

In and around the Salisbury area there were many schemes that National Highways was working on. One of the projects which Chris had been involved with when he first came to the area was the Salisbury River Park project, in partnership with the Environment Agency.

Chris was now working in partnership with the council on a study to improve the underpasses around Salisbury. Four had been identified for improvements to lighting to promote a feeling of safety by users.

Other areas of work included improved road markings and surfaces, drainage issues, pumping station condition, upgrading traffic signals and air quality.

The A36 Southampton Road section of the network impacted the southern Wiltshire community area the most. A £20m investment had been made to enable improvements, studies would look at different models and information would be drawn from partners including Wiltshire Council (WC) and Salisbury City Council (SCC). Any work taken forward must not impact negatively on other areas of the road network.

The model for Southampton Road was currently going well, with testing underway. It was estimated that any visible construction work would not start until around 2025. 

Questions and comments:

It was good to have you here talking about solutions to the A36, it was positive to see that there was now a tangible scheme to address the problems.

Years ago the Highways Agency said they would oppose significant development in Alderbury as the A36 was at its capacity. Since then there has been further development, however, during all of the consultation the Highways Agency had been silent. What was your position on development that feeds into the A36? Answer: We are statutory consultees in the planning process, there are increased demands and over periods of time the ‘significant number’ of development would change. I would need to take that question away and feedback.

In Harnham traffic is at peak. On the development sites, 82 of the 920 houses had been built. Existing residents were horrified with the traffic. The developments in Harnham would affect the whole of the road network. The gyratory was particularly tricky. There was also a Heat Project (hospital programme) for better access to consider. This would include a university faculty beside it, putting more traffic into the city on the A36.

Answer: I have shared material you sent me to counter parts at WC, as the roads you mention are not in my gift to comment on. We do consider the linkage of roads such as the Harnham Gyratory when we carry out our study. I cannot advise but I can attend a meeting with the SCC and listen/observe.


What is the expected increase to the flow of traffic through Salisbury after the work is completed?

Answer: We look at the existing system and any large development known to take place. We also have national accredited guidance on how traffic will grow, at various levels. We apply all of the accumulative affects to the network; this enables us to have a reasonable idea on changes on the road network. We will look at the levels of increase and see how much we can reduce it by, but we are not able to give you a figure at this stage


What was National Highways doing with Active Travel?

Answer: The chosen scheme would include aspects such as improvements to crossing facilities. It was a balancing act, as it was not possible to stop people from driving. There would be elements which could be looked at to make it safer and quicker for users.


In Landford we had been looking to see if it was possible to get Lorry Sat Nav routes changed to make users take different routes. There were 3 access routes into the New Forest National Park (NFNP), and lorry and van drivers often take a short cut through the forest.

Answer: There was no way NH could influence the large tech companies that operate the Sat Nav’s. We do work with the National Haulage Association, but they also are unable to influence the navigation systems.


Were there any small wins you could offer to improve this in the NFNP with small signage or other measures?

Answer: Yes, we may be able to try to identify small projects if there was the identification need.


For the A36, a cut through Alderbury is the alternative approach road and Laverstock the rat run on the other side. Laverstock PC would like to be involved with any discussions with you and SCC.

Answer: It was very difficult to stop rat-run traffic as those doing it were local people.


For the communities along the A36, when a scheme is devised which could help the A36 issues, that community/parish has to pay for the scheme and often they cannot afford them. Was there a better way around that?

Answer: If a village wanted to put something on the side of our network, they would need to pay the fees for the design scheme, unfortunately there was no such thing as a simple scheme, even a simple signpost must be designed to the scrutiny of our scheme requirements with surveys etc


With regards to Active Travel, there were currently 11 submissions with one relevant to this AB for Longhenge.


There is a disconnect with cutting and verges – if we could clear as we cut that would be better.


How do you aim to make the A36 a tolerable route for cyclists to use, it is horrible at the moment. For large parts of A36 cyclists do not have any option. Overview for through traffic, what can be done to manage that in a national sense?

Answer: The A36 is part of the strategic road network and intended for the movement of goods/freight and will always remain a very busy road. I understand your reservations in terms of cycling, however there are limitations as we are limited to the footprint of the road and cannot extend. Under a designated funds scheme, we have identified 13 locations which are being considered along the A36 where we are studying issues.


The Area Board thanked Chris and Paul for attending to share information and welcomed further updates.


Any additional questions to Chris could be sent to him via the Strategic Engagement & Partnership Manager