Melton is set to go through a watershed year in 2018 with the prospect of finally getting the green light for both its long-awaited bypass and the critical Local Plan governing development for the next 20 years.
That is the feeling of borough council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, as he reflects on an eventful year and looks ahead to the new one.
Leicestershire County Council agreed this month to favour a partial bypass - the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR) - which connects the A606 Nottingham Road with the A606 Burton Road passing to the east of the town.
The government is now considering whether to contribute £55m of the £74m cost, with the possibility of work starting in the spring of 2020 and the road opening two years later.
Planning Inspector Mary Travers starts a seven-day public hearing on January 30 into proposals for Melton’s delayed Local Plan, which provides for 6,125 new homes to be built up to 2036.
If approved, the Local Plan should be in place by the summer, allowing developers to start building homes and contributing money towards the town’s planned MMDR.
Councillor Orson told the Melton Times: “This is an exciting time for Melton.
“A bypass has been talked about for most of my lifetime and I’m 66 but the final piece in the jigsaw will hopefully be when the government agrees to help fund it.
“We are relatively confident that the inspector will approve our Local Plan and that will give certainty to the borough in terms of development which can then go ahead.
“These two things have been priorities for Melton for quite a while and so much work has been put into making them happen.”
Councillor Orson said there was an intensified need for a partial bypass because of plans to expand nearby East Midlands Airport, which he says might funnel even more traffic through the town.
“The most important thing about the MMDR is that it will ease the traffic situation,” he said.
“It will also allow growth in the borough by attracting more employers into Melton.
“We have a relatively low wage economy in the borough and one of our aims as a council is to attract more businesses paying higher wages.”
l Members of the public can attend the public examination into the Local Plan, which will be at Melton Council’s offices starting January 30 at 9.30am.