Plans for congestion busting link road in St James submitted at last

After years of campaigning by St James Residents' Association (above), plans have finally been submitted to build a link road in one of the most congested parts of Northampton.
After years of campaigning by St James Residents' Association (above), plans have finally been submitted to build a link road in one of the most congested parts of Northampton.

Long-awaited proposals to ease the daily congestion in St James have taken a leap forward, after plans were submitted to provide a link road in the town.

Northampton Borough Council first announced a scheme to join up both ends of St James Mill Road in 2011 in the hope it would ease congestion on St Peter’s Way and the roads in St James and Far Cotton.

But the congestion-busting plan was put on hold because, in order to do so, building of the road would have had to involve ripping up a short stretch of disused freight railway line.

In 2014, Northampton Borough Council said it had received a provisional £20 million funding agreement with the Government to complete the work and, two years later, Network Rail eventually decommissioned the disused line.

After nearly seven years of discussion - this week, the county council's highways contractor Kier WSP submitted a planning application to build the road.

Chairman of the St James Residents' Association, Graham Croucher, has been campaigning for the link road since 2011.

He said: "It is only a small part of an overall package of improvements we would like to see.

"Becket's junction still needs improving further, but we are delighted for now.

"We'll give this a cautious welcome after long years of campaigning for it."

In its traffic impact assessment, Kier stated: "The link road provides additional routes through the industrial estate, reducing the travel times to the south of the B&Q roundabout."

The road, it adds, will allow pedestrians to get across town 10 minutes quicker than they can currently, which Kier says will be a boost for employees of businesses in St James Mill Road and the Nene Valley Retail Park.

Air quality will be improved and the route will also help improve bus journey times.

In January, Northampton Borough Council agreed to put aside £600,000 to clear the land in between the two ends of St James Mill Road.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We have always believed that delivery of this link road would further improve the accessibility of the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, as well as provide a measure of congestion relief, especially on match days.”

The project will be part-funded by SEMLEP through the second round of Local Growth Fund grants given out by the Government and the Growing Places Fund, with further costs being met through Enterprise Zone business rates.