Work can start on Melton’s long-awaited partial bypass next Spring after councillors this afternoon (Thursday) approved a planning application for the route.
Members of Leicestershire County Council’s development control and regulatory board voted overwhelmingly in favour of the £63.5million scheme, which should be open by the summer of 2022.
The 7km single carriageway Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR) will take traffic on a loop to the north and east of the town, connecting the A606 Nottingham Road, Scalford Road, Melton Spinney Road and the A607 Thorpe Road (A607) before re-joining the A606 Burton Road.
Deputy leader, Councillor Byron Rhodes, member for Belvoir, told the meeting: “Local inhabitants have called for this for many years, as long ago as 40 years, because of the heavy congestion in the town centre.
“I would like to think the road will be completed three years from today.”
Ian Vears, the assistant director of highways and transport at County Hall, told the meeting: “This should relieve the congestion around Melton which is considerable, particularly because traffic is often diverted there when the A1 is shut.
“I’ve never been involved in a scheme that’s had so much public support - people are not asking why we are building it, they are asking when we are going to build it.”
Councillor David Jennings commented: “There is a need for a bypass in Melton.
“Nothing is ever perfect, of course, but this road has been well designed and I’m particularly pleased to see all the landscaping work which is being planned.”
There were concerns, voiced by Councillor Michael Charlesworth, about the new road causing environmental damage.
Councillor Charlesworth, who abstained from the vote, told the meeting: “It does worry me that we are going to tarmac over more great swathes of green space.
“We’ve not heard one word in the consultation from the Leicestershire Wildlife Trust about the impact on the habitats of badgers, otters, bats and newts.
“The damage we will be doing to the ecology in the area cannot be undone.”
A year ago, the Department of Transport awarded £49.5m from its Large Local Majors Fund towards the scheme with County Hall and Melton Borough Council also contributing to the cost of the work.
The county council announced its preferred route for the relief road last year before setting out the detail in the planning application which was approved today.
Councillors were advised to approve the scheme today in a report to the board which stated there were no overriding objections and that it should be permitted due to ‘the significant public benefit likely to result from the construction of the MMDR’,
The proposals outlined in the detailed plans include a re-alignment of the River Eye, near to the MMDR’s junction with Saxby Road, and the creation of six roundabouts.
There will be a three-metre wide shared cycle footway along the length of the road and extensive landscaping throughout.
Speed limits will be 40mph for the northern section of the relief road and 60mph for the part of the route passing to the east of Melton.
Funding is also being sought to build a southern relief road for Melton, which would link the A606 Burton road to the A607 Leicester Road.
It is hoped this road would be built at the same time as the MMDR with developers contributing to the cost of building it and other related infrastructure.