NOISE, emergency vehicle access and issues over safety were raised by residents at a consultation of the A31 widening scheme yesterday when plans were put before the public.

But the proposal to widen the westbound road to three lanes between Ringwood and the Verwood turn-off is one that is “long overdue” according to Ringwood residents.

Church warden Jacqueline Brown said the Ringwood Parish Church community had concerns about the noise of traffic increasing as the volume of motorists rose.

“Our particular concerns are the impacts on the parish church which would be noise and the fabric of the building.”

Ms Brown said the church had voiced concerns over the foundations of the building and its stained-glass windows and whether or not these would be affected by the vibrations from increased levels of traffic.

“Highways have said they will have to take into account the mitigating factors,” she said.

“We think it’s a good scheme. It definitely needs doing and it is long overdue and we’re pleased that Highways England have recognised the problem and have come up with a plan to address it."

Part of the plans include closing the rat-run West Street though Highways have yet to confirm how this would be implemented.

Resident Roger Dewar said the West Street closure was a good idea, describing it as “a death trap” but said he wanted to see works done to both sides of the dual carriageway.

Mr Dewar, who lives close to the A31, said he would contest some of the information provided by Highways England. He said: “One comment that was posed to us by Highways was that if traffic was faster it would be quieter and I would dispute that. I’m disappointed that the plan doesn’t include the eastbound carriageway.”

It is estimated that the £12-£13m scheme would reduce travelling time from Poulner Hill to Verwood by six minutes by 2020 when the works are expected to begin.

Mayor of Ringwood, councillor Tim Ward, said: “It will relieve a lot of congestion for the town and be far safer and that is the prime motivation.”