Melton Borough Council has reassured members of the public that they will be consulted before any decision is made about a final route for an eastern outer relief road.
A public consultation on the council’s ‘Emerging Options - Draft Melton Local Plan’, which ended on April 4, suggested a western route would be a viable option.
But earlier this month, as reported in the Melton Times, Leicestershire County Council gave its backing for an £83 million eastern route, connecting Burton Road to Thorpe Road, which it claims could cost £20m less than a longer western route as well as boosting Melton’s economy by £102m per year.
The council is currently considering responses made to the Draft Local Plan - setting out the development and infrastructure needs for the whole borough up to 2036 including suggestions about where the relief road should go.
In a letter to councillors, the Thorpe Park Residents’ Committee said that as the county council’s backing of an eastern route had come so soon after the April 4 closing date of the borough council’s Draft Local Plan consultation, it ‘suggests that either the consultation process was merely a costly, box-ticking exercise or that these latest relief road proposals from the county council have superceded those of Melton Borough Council, thereby undermining the credibility of a major aspect of the Draft Local Plan and the associated consultation process.’
But in response the borough council said that although reports commissioned at the time the Draft Local Plan was prepared suggested a western route would be a viable option, they also didn’t rule out a route to the east.
A Melton Council spokesman said: “Since this date further work has been done to compare west and east options. This work was completed very recently and identified that a route to the east of Melton would be the most likely option to be achieved and therefore prioritised for further development work. This is especially because of the difference in cost – it is estimated it will be some £20m less.
“The next stage, in respect of the eastern section of the outer relief road, is to identify a preferred corridor.
“Public consultations will take place throughout the scheme development process before any decision is made about a final route. Any final route will join other links through to Nottingham Road, north of the town, and to Leicester Road to the south, to connect all of the main roads serving the town.”
He added: “The main purpose of consultation on the Draft Local Plan was to provide an opportunity for the public, local groups and key agencies such as the county council to comment on the draft policies and proposals included within it.
“Just as many residents have commented on a wide range of issues, Leicestershire County Council, the highways authority for the area, has commented on the best route for a road link.
“A new version of the plan will be produced in the light of the consultation replies received and further consultation will take place when the final plan is prepared, before submission to an independent examiner.
“It is expected the next version will be different from the most recent, in order to respond to comments and issues arising from new and updated evidence.
“Responses about the Draft Melton Local Plan are currently being considered by the council and a number of comments have been made about the relief road including suggestions about where it should go. These responses will be reported to the council before the final version of the plan is prepared.”