Orbital road plan for Northampton has run out of cash

An inconclusive consultation into the route of Northampton's orbital road has seen the project grind to a halt.

Friday, 5th October 2018, 1:32 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th October 2018, 10:09 am
The Northampton Northern Orbital options are in blue. Money for the relief road - in red - is already agreed, leading to fears traffic from Dallington Grange will simply be funnelled through Chapel Brampton and Kingsthorpe

Members of the public were given a seemingly simple choice of two options where the Northampton Northern Orbital - planned to run from Chapel Brampton to the A43 near Moulton Park - will pass through.

But neither option attracted the support of more than 32 per cent of respondents - some said they preferred neither - which Northamptonshire County Council said is not enough to be decisive. Residents and parish councils also had too many concerns that could not be dismissed.

Chris Wragg, from Northamptonshire Highways, says in a report to cabinet members that a route that did not have support "would elicit significant objections" and he recommended further work to explore suggestions from members of the public.

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But such desktop work would cost £600,000, with £2.8 million more to get it to the stage where the first parcels of land are cleared. However, no funds are available, bringing the orbital scheme to a temporary halt.

He said: "Further work needs to be undertaken in terms of considering the engineering design and environmental impacts of the scheme, and it is expected that this will involve the consideration of further route options to address concerns expressed in the consultation.

"It would be appropriate to test scenarios for development beyond those contained in current Local Plans in order to future-proof the scheme and determine when and if a dual carriageway and/or grade-separated junctions would be required."

He added: "Given the financial pressures which the county council is experiencing at the present time, it is considered unlikely that discretionary funding towards further development of this scheme would be agreed."

Money from Major Road Network funding, the West Northamptonshire Growth Deal and the UK Prosperity Fund could be available in coming years. However, they would only contribute to the physical road construction.

The major obstacle in the orbital scheme has realised the fears of Whitehills and Spring Park Residents Association (WASPRA) which warned that laying the first tarmac could take a decade.

If that comes to pass then the North-West Relief Road will be finished long beforehand, meaning traffic from Dallington Grange will end up in Chapel Brampton with no major carriageway to take cars onwards to the A43.

Acknowledging the concerns as an 'amber' in the council's 'traffic light' risk system, Mr Wragg said: "There are objections to proceeding with the North West Relief Road in advance of the Northern Orbital Route.

"The need to consider appropriate mitigation measures is recognised in the North-West Relief Road report."

The cabinet meeting will take place next Tuesday, October 9.