A consultation over what route a long-awaited road linking the A43 and the A428 in Northampton should take is due to start this month, though the county’s highways chief says “it will be contentious.”
A paper set to go before Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet meeting next week outlines the authority’s road building priorities for the next five years.
It says these will be completing the previously announced Northampton to Kettering dualling along the A43 and the long-discussed Isham to Wellingborouh bypass to alleviate pressure on the A509.
But those currently facing lengthy delays heading north of Kingsthorpe on the A508 in recent days will welcome that the report also lists the Northampton north-west relief road and “northern orbital route” as a “priority.”
A consultation, it adds, is due to start later this month, though the construction would only start in 2018 at the earliest and that will only be if funding can be found.
Cabinet member of highways, Councillor Michael Clarke said: “Details are yet to be finalised about the consultation, but what in essence we will be looking at will be the question of the route, which is quite contentious.
“The people asked in Pitsford and Boughton for example, will likely have very different opinions.”
The north west bypass and northern orbital route would effectively provide a road between the A43 and the A428, built in staged phases.
The council says in the report that the route will be key to providing the road capacity needed to accommodate massive housing developments at Dallington Grange, Buckton Fields and in Kingsthorpe, as well as improving access to Moulton Park and alleviating current traffic problems in villages to the north of the town.
Councillor Clarke said it is listed as a “possible” scheme because of a long-standing disagreement over the exact route.
He also said the scheme could only be paid through contributions from housing developers and by talking to district councils about releasing funds from their New Homes Bonus to support it.
Some, including the Whitehills and Spring Park Residents’ Association (WASPRA) have estimated it would cost around £150 million, but the exact figure could vary wildly from that.
WASPRA has been calling for a north-west bypass and orbital route for years, but Councillor Clarke said as an such route would pass so many villages north of Northampton, it has been tough find that pleases everyone.
“We certainly haven’t been slouching on this,” Councillor Clarke said. “It’s one of those things which is aspirational. Everyone wants to see it built but there is an awful lot of disagreement on the fundamentals.”
He added: “We do not have unlimited funds either.
Patrick Cross, of WASPRA, has welcomed the upcoming launch of the consultation.
“It’s good that it is getting started,” he said. “There will be winners and losers with the final route and a lot of people in the villages will object.”
But with up to 25,000 homes set to be built in an already congested north of Northampton by 2029, Mr Cross said the road has to be built.
“This is going to be tough, it’s going to take a lot of money.
“But this is going to benefit the town for the next 100 years.”