Leicestershire County Council is set to throw its weight behind multi-million pound proposals to build an outer relief road for Melton, relieving the town of its traffic hell and benefiting future generations of Meltonians.
But before their future gain is likely to come more pain for the motorists and businesses of today who have long been suffering the misery of the town’s chronic congestion.
Council transport chiefs expect it would be likely to take until 2036 for a full relief road to be delivered and, with up to 300 homes a year aimed to be built in the borough until then, the town’s congestion problems are likely to get worse, with more cars on the roads, before they get better.
The county council’s ruling Cabinet is set to agree for the authority to work jointly with Melton Council on developing a Melton Mowbray Transport Strategy, with an immediate focus on identifying a preferred corridor for an outer relief road for the town.
The councils will also discuss whether and how it may be possible to secure developer contributions towards the estimated £1.5m cost of developing and delivering the strategy. This would sit alongside Melton Council’s emerging Local Plan which will shape future development in the borough up until 2026.
The County Highway Authority is also being asked to consider altering its ‘in principle’ stance on new housing and employment development proposals for Melton, instead supporting those schemes able to provide a contribution to an outer relief road, even if these create more traffic in the town until such time the relief road is built.
The Cabinet will meet next Friday (September 11) to discuss the proposed strategy. It is proposed that, subject to certain caveats, the county council would provide up to £500,000 towards the development of the strategy, which would be paid for from existing council budgets. Funding would also be expected to be provided by Melton Council and from other sources.
A report to the Cabinet says: “An outer relief road is likely to be formed by a series of individual, but co-ordinated links including links to the north and south of the town.
“A key question that hasn’t yet been resolved is whether they would be linked together by a route to the east or west of Melton.
“A preliminary assessment of a route including a link to the west of the town has been undertaken. This appears to be a viable option as it would provide substantial traffic relief to the town, provides sufficient capacity to enable Melton Council’s ongoing strategic growth and there do not appear to be any fundamental barriers to its delivery, subject to the availability of funding.”
The report adds: “The total cost of delivering an outer relief road would be in excess of £50m and might perhaps approach £100m. It would not be possible for the county council and Melton Council to fund it. Another potential source of public funding would be a Single Local Growth Fund (SLGF) bid via the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, although under present SLGF arrangements some element of local match-funding would probably still be required.
“Opportunities could also be explored to secure developer contributions. Given existing traffic conditions in Melton, the ‘in principle’ position of the County Highway Authority, to date, has been to advise Melton Council to consider refusing planning applications for development that would have a severe residual impact.
“Subject to the securing of full funding for the development of a transport strategy and provided Melton Council can put in place a way to secure developer contributions (including from current planning applications) in advance of completing development of a strategy, it would be appropriate for the county council to review its ‘in principle’ position in respect of development proposals in the town.
“It’s considered it would be in the long-term interest for the Highway Authority to support a new development prior to the full completion of the relief road where that development was able to provide a contribution to an outer relief road, even if the impact of that development might be severe until such time as the scheme was completed.
“This approach would help to facilitate development but would require the Highway Authority to accept there could be further deterioration in traffic conditions in Melton until such time as an outer relief road was to be completed, albeit that it might be possible to temper some of those negative impacts through the introduction of more modest transportation measures.”
As previously reported in the Melton Times, transport studies have shown that the town’s existing traffic congestion problems are mainly at the key town centre junctions. At peak times a number of main routes into the town, including the A607, A6006 and B676, have been found to have delays of more than three minutes per mile. Taking the town’s future growth into account, it’s anticipated that by 2031 many main routes, including the A606, A607 and A6006, will have longer delays of over five minutes per mile.
The studies also found evidence of traffic using ‘rat runs’ to avoid the most congested town centre junctions.
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