Melton Council and Leicestershire County Council have both agreed to make significant investments in order to speed up the arrival of an outer relief road for Melton.
Earlier this month County Hall committed £500,000 towards designing an exact route, linking Leicester Road with Burton Road, Scalford Road, Nottingham Road and Asfordby Road.
At a meeting tonight (Thursday, September 24) Melton Council made a similar commitment, of £400,000, despite the fact that it has much smaller finances. It’s contribution will come from the new homes bonus reserve - which it holds to facilitate the delivery of infrastructure for housing.
The councils’ combined £900,000 will go towards the £1.5m needed to move onto the next stage of the process - the development of a Melton Mowbray transport strategy which will include the development of a preferred corridor for an outer relief road.
Both councils have put in a bid to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) to secure the remaining £600,000 for the project’s next phase.
Melton councillors received a report from consultants Jacobs that confirmed the only realistic solution to Melton’s traffic problems, and allowing it to prosper, was an outer relief road.
Jacobs’ report has suggested an 8.7km-long road starting from the A606/Sawgate Road junction, south of the town, and running westwards via Kirby Lane towards the A607 Leicester Road where it bisects the Chetwode House complex. It would then run north-west along the Welby Road and Welby Lane alignment until it reaches the A6006. A north easterly route would then be followed towards the A606 Nottingham Road and Scalford Road.
Its report explained that an alternative ‘inner’ option was also examined but this was insufficient in terms of the amount of traffic it would relieve from congestion hot-spots in the future.
Melton Council has also devised a way of allowing the road to be started immediately, without having to wait until a full funding package is available, or for many years while development takes place. It proposes to allow developments to proceed where they are acceptable in all other ways, provided they make a fair contribution to the overall solution. This could be by physically building part of the relief road, or providing funds for the part relevant to their proposal. The council says it will ensure the contributions match the desired route, and that each section links together.
Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes, who is also deputy leader of the county council, said: “I’ve always favoured the outer option and am delighted that the evidence backs this up. It was necessary to check the ‘inner’ option because it would be significantly cheaper, but the report sets out that it would not provide a viable long-term solution and there are real questions whether it would be practical.
“I sit on both councils and I’m pleased they’re joining forces to get this off the ground.
“We don’t have to wait until the Local Plan is adopted or for development to take place for many years before work can start on it. The approach we’ve adopted will allow work to begin straight away, if it is linked to an acceptable development scheme and follows the correct route.
“The outer relief road is essential to Melton’s future prosperity. As well as being a frustrating inconvenience for all residents, the congestion is standing in the way of economic development and growth and there’s a danger the town will stagnate. The relief road will unlock the potential of the local economy and allow the town to flourish.”
It’s currently expected the overall cost for the whole outer relief road could be £65m, with most of that money having to come from developer contributions and with significant help from the Government.
Mr Rhodes said: “If we do nothing until the road is built, Melton will fall into steep economic decline. So we shall have to manage development in such a way that day-to-day life in the town can continue while steadily moving forward to our goal.
“Some developers may choose to build sections of the road in lieu of contributions to facilitate development. We should look favourably at these proposals.”
He added: “For years people have complained about Melton’s steadily worsening traffic problems but nothing has been done about it. This is a great opportunity which we must seize. There’s still a lot to do, not least getting Government backing, but I’m confident we have the resolve to make it happen.”