Borough council wave through North West Relief Road plan to build bypass through Northampton

A planning committee could offer no formal objection to a controversial plan to build a 2km bypass through Northampton.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 6:00 am
Residents group WASPRA says the North West Relief Road is a "disaster" in the making.

Despite warnings from two speakers from a resident group that the road would be "a white elephant" and a "disaster", Northampton Borough Council's planning committee unanimously agreed they had no objection in principle to the North West Relief Road on Thursday evening this week.

The plan to link the A428 Harlestone Road and the A5199 Welford Road with a dual carriageway has been criticised by resident group WASPRA as a "rushed" scheme to open up its surrounding fields for housing developments while funnelling congestion and M1 traffic into Kingsthorpe.

It comes after the plans by Northamptonshire County Council's Highways Team was effectively "sent back to the drawing board" earlier this year after WASPRA commissioned their own traffic survey that claimed the bypass would create 15-minute delays at rush hour.

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Highways then published an "addendum" to their original assessments, that revised a 20-minute delay at one of the scheme's roundabouts down to 20 seconds.The Highways Team sent no one to represent the county council and answer residents' questions at the meeting on Thursday night (December 6).

Because the county council plan builds through Northampton, the borough council was invited to say if they had any objections to the scheme "in principle".

Northampton Borough Council has also committed £4.2million towards the scheme.

Two members of WASPRA, Patrick Cross and Sean Brady, stood to speak against the plan and asked the council to object until the county council commissioned a fresh traffic assessment for how the bypass would affect congestion.

The group is also calling for the Relief Road to be put on hold until the Northern Orbital Road can be delivered alongside it - a plan which itself has been stalling for over a decade.

Patrick Cross told the panel: "This route is a white elephant in the making... Just because it has capacity for thousands of cars an hour doesn't mean the roads it leads to will.

"It will mean total gridlock for Kingsthorpe. Traffic will queue up the relief road for two kilometres.

"Please, reject the relief road tonight and instead ask the county council to work on a proper Orbital Road to serve Northampton."

Residents also questioned how the county council's plans, which were developed in part by KierWSP, were independently assessed - by another branch of KierWSP working in another county.

Councillor Jane Birch likened the assessment to "marking their own homework".

Chair Brian Oldham told the panel: "In principle, I'm for both of these roads. I am. The fact that both roads aren't being developed together could be a problem. But I hope we agree that we cannot leave things as they are. These roads have to happen."

The panel of seven councillors unanimously voted they had no objection in principle to the plans.

It means the NWRR plan has entered its final stages to receive full planning consent from the county council.