Spring 2022 start date mooted for Melton bypass with new hope on funding a south link
A decision taken by councillors this afternoon (Tuesday) makes them hopeful that work will start next spring on building a partial bypass of Melton which will carry traffic across the north, down the east and south of the town.
Funding and planning permission has long been in place for the £63.5million north and east sections of the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR) but there has been uncertainty over the southern link following an angry public stand-off between Melton Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council over the funding for it.
County Hall has threatened to refuse an offer of £15million government funding because it felt it was too much of a risk to fund the remaining £13million up front with no confidence that it could then recoup that outlay from developers building thousands of homes in that part of town.
But the borough council has now come up with a revised Developer Contributions SPD plan which will simplify the way builders must pay towards essential infrastructure, such as roads and schools, to support their developments.
Cabinet members approved the document, which the county council has already indicated it would be happy with, at a meeting this afternoon (Tuesday).
If approved by full council on Thursday this should prompt County Hall to take up the government Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) money to allow the southern link to be built at the same time as the north and east sections, with the summer of 2024 being mooted as when it will all open to traffic.
Borough council leader Joe Orson told the meeting: “This is another step towards securing the southern link of the bypass.
“It really is good news that the county council have advised us that they are content with the SPD.
“We certainly recognise the concerns the county council has on the big spend that they face and this will hopefully secure that funding for them.”
He added: “There is good reason to believe that we could see shovels in the ground in the spring of next year, I am advised, so that is a good sign.”
Councillor Ronan Browne commented: “This is us following through on our commitment to deliver what is really the biggest priority for the residents of Melton Mowbray.
“Hopefully we will now achieve that dream that our residents have wanted for so long.”
Councillor Ronnie de Burle supported the document although he did say he felt that developers should be asked to pay for dog waste bins on new developments to help make communities cleaner.
The borough council has now agreed to increase its commitment to underwrite the costs of the project from £1million to £1.75million.
The authority will also revise its development masterplans for both the South and North Sustainable Neighbourhoods by the end of this year to help ensure there are appropriate contributions from developers towards the cost of infrastructure.
County Hall would need to forward fund £55million for the MMDR’s infrastructure, including schools, at a time when its finances are stretched to breaking point and it insists it needs clarity on the plans to recoup this outlay through developer contributions.
The SPD document was formulated following a six-week consultation process, which produced 20 substantial responses from individuals and stakeholders.