Government gives green light to Hucknall inner bypass

A SHOCK announcement has disclosed that the cash-strapped government will find the funds to build Hucknall’s inner bypass — as part of a do-or-die plan to revive the local and national economy.

The £13 million road, which has been on the agenda for more than 70 years, will link Annesley Road with Station Road to free the town centre from heavy traffic. Part of High Street will be pedestrianised.

The scheme looked dead and buried last year when the new Conservative and Lib Dem coalition took over at Westminster.

As part of a landslide of billions of pounds worth of spending cuts, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the bypass proposal was on the brink of missing out on £10 million promised from Whitehall.

However, during his Autumn Statement in the House Of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Osborne changed his mind amid doom and gloom surrounding the country’s economic crisis.

He announced a series of cash injections, including £5 billion to boost transport projects which he believes are key to breathing new life into the economic recovery. The inner bypass is one of those.

Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, said: “I’m not sure whether this is good news or bad news. Different people will react in different ways. But at least it lances the boil.

“For those who will be blighted by the road, at least this brings some sort of closure that they know the road is going to go ahead.

“I think we need to work to make sure this is genuinely going to benefit the town centre.

“To a certain extent, I’m glad the whole debate has been put to bed. Let’s crack on and try and make the most of it. “That’s not to say I don’t have sympathy with those who will be affected by the road. This project was started by the previous Labour administration. The Chancellor is clearly thinking about how to get the economy stimulated.”

The major scheme will cost £12.4 million in total. There is no timeframe yet for when the work will start.

The Chancellor has pledged £8.5 million from the government kitty and the rest will come from Notts County Council and Ashfield District Council, which are jointly behind the plan for the road.

As well as the inner bypass, the project will include part-pedestrianisation of High Street between the South Street/Baker Street junction and the Watnall Road junction.

The road will run parallel with High Street to cater for most of the displaced traffic and accommodate additional traffic generated by new housing developments. Other features of the scheme include: n A NEW two-way ‘bus only’ link connecting the bypass and the remaining portion of High Street;

REPLACEMENT of the existing double roundabout at the junction of Linby Road, Station Road and Ashgate Road with a new junction controlled by traffic lights;

AND ENHANCED areas for pedestrians and cyclists, together with environmental improvements throughout the town centre.

It is believed the scheme will also be key to prompting a proposed £30 million redevelopment of the Piggins Croft car park, off Yorke Street, into a state-of-the-art shopping centre — an idea exclusively revealed by the Dispatch.

News of the green light for the road will please some but anger others, particularly those whose homes will be close to the road.

But the councils behind the plan are delighted that they can move forward.

Coun Richard Jackson (Con), Notts County Council’s lead member for transport and highways, said: “This announcement is a massive step forward and means we can press on with detailed design, planning submissions and further public engagement.

“The scheme will bring substantial benefits to the town, creating an attractive and prosperous retail centre.”

Coun Steve Carroll (Lab), lead member for regeneration at Ashfield Council, added: “I am absolutely delighted that we can now bring this much-needed development forward. It will be a tremendous boost for Hucknall and complement previous regeneration schemes, such as the tram and rail link.

“We’ve been trying to bring this scheme to fruition for several years and it is pleasing that the funding has now been confirmed.”