Generations of Melton people who have wanted a bypass to ease traffic congestion in the town received a huge boost this week when the Government agreed to pay nearly £3 million towards creating a business case for building a major part of it.
Both Melton Council and Leicestershire County Council, which put in a joint bid for the funding, celebrated the announcement by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
The business case for the scheme will help the Government decide on whether to pay for the proposed Eastern Distributor Road, the section of the planned bypass not earmarked for funding by developers planning to build thousands of houses around the town.
This would link the A607 Grantham road and Melton Spinney Road with the A606 Burton Road with a projected aim of building it by December 2022.
News that the business case would be funded - one of only six such UK schemes to be backed this week by the Department of Transport - was warmly welcomed by borough council leader, Councillor Pam Posnett.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted, this is the best news we have had in a long time.
“It means that we will now be able to plan the route of the proposed road and it will enable us to continue working with our residents and businesses to deliver their aspirations.”
Councillor Peter Osborne, County Hall cabinet member for transport, said: “The county council fully supports the future growth of Melton Mowbray, so we are absolutely delighted that the Government has awarded us this money.
“A relief road for the town will support up to 5,000 new homes and help to boost its economy by over £100m per year.
“This money will enable us to continue to work closely with Melton Borough Council to develop proposals for the relief road in more detail and we will continue to engage with local residents and businesses as we do so.”
The business case for the Eastern Distributor Road will be funded to the tune of £2.8 million as part of a £1.5 billion Department of Transport package of measures to support the UK road network.
But a note of caution was sounded this week by Melton North Action Group, which has launched a campaign calling for no new homes to be built until the financing is agreed and the bypass is built because it feels the current infrastructure is inadequate to support major new housing development in the town.
The group, which succeeded three years ago in campaigning to get a proposed development of 1,000 homes to the north of Melton shelved, has started an online petition to lobby Westminster.
It wants people to sign up to support their quest to put a block on new building until the bypass is built, with 10,000 signatures required to elicit a Government response and 100,000 to ensure the issue is considered for debate in Parliament.
Group member Brian Hodder said: “We’re not against the building of new homes in Melton, we just think there will not be an infrastructure in place to support them if the bypass is not in place first.
“We’ve had good support for our petition so far and we are hoping to get a lot more from people who live in the borough and those who come to the town to work, to shop or to visit people here.”
To view the petition go online at www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172505