ATTEMPTS to have an acoustic barrier installed outside a church on the A31 to reduce noise have failed after plans were ditched.

When proposals for the major A31 road widening project at Ringwood were first drawn up, National Highways included provision for a noise reducing acoustic barrier to be erected along the length of the boundary with the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul.

It was anticipated the new barrier would become a permanent addition after parishioners feared the new third lane would result in greater traffic volume and, consequently, more noise.

Shortly before work commenced late last year, the plans were dropped by National Highways who emphasised that new road surface materials will help reduce noise.

Salisbury Journal: A31 project at Ringwood. Picture: National HighwaysA31 project at Ringwood. Picture: National Highways

Despite this, numerous representatives from the town and county council’s, Ringwood Benefice, Winchester Diocese, engineers VolkerFitzpatrick and National Highways have conducted several meetings in an attempt to find a solution.

Ringwood Town Council’s A31 forum representative Cllr Philip Day said: “We have been told that it’s not possible to install a full acoustic barrier, or at least the sort the church has been advocating for, in the ideal site.

“One thing they made clear is that there apparently isn’t sufficient space between the cemetery wall and the edge of the new road.

“They did suggest installing something which, in my opinion, was nothing more than a garden fence. There is also an issue regarding who actually owns the space between the wall and the A31 which needs resolving.

“It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment, we don’t know how it’s going to pan out.

“I think the concern the church has is that once the works finish, traffic noise will increase more than ever. We’ve been assured the road surface will be low noise, nevertheless the church is concerned simply because of proximity to the new lane.”

Salisbury Journal: Example of a roadside noise barrier. Picture: Highways EnglandExample of a roadside noise barrier. Picture: Highways England

National Highways said that further assessments of noise impacts have been undertaken and concluded that a noise barrier adjacent to the A31 “is not needed”.

However they added they would continue to work with the community to find ways to screen the church from the road so that its grounds “might be more attractive for local community and church events”.

Alan Feist, programme leader for National Highways, added: “The case for a full acoustic barrier along the length of the A31 has not been made but we are keen to work with the community to see what we can do to support their aspirations for the town.

“The team are currently working with them to develop a solution that can achieve their objectives where it is safe and economically viable to do so.”

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