A FRUSTRATING delay continues with the long-awaited plans for a Hucknall inner bypass and High Street pedestrianisation.
The scheme, aimed at easing traffic congestion and regenerating the town centre, is now due to start late in 2014 — and it will take about two years to complete.
The current cost of the scheme is £12 million, which is about the same as when a previous version of the plan was prepared in 2009.
But government funding for the project is £2 million less than at that time, having been reduced from £10 million to £8 million.
Ashfield District Council is to contribute £1.2 million and the rest of the money will come from Notts County Council, which is to carry out the scheme.
The idea of a Hucknall bypass has been in the pipeline for more than 60 years. Back in 2009, the Dispatch reported that work was due to start last year and it was expected to be completed in the coming autumn.
The two project officers, Paul Horn and Tom Boylan, called at the Dispatch Office this week to give us an exclusive update.
Mr Horn said the Hucknall scheme was put on hold when the Conservatives came to power and it ran into competition with 45 other transport schemes.
The county council submitted a new bid last year and this was given the green light in November.
With a number of amendments to the scheme, a public consultation will take place in September and a new planning application will be put in soon afterwards. There could also be a public inquiry.
Mr Horn said one key change was that there would no longer be a traffic link through The Connery. Strong objections had arisen because this would have caused major traffic problems on Budby Rise. Instead, there will now be a one-way traffic system on Albert Street and Titchfield Street.
One aspect of the proposals — the possibility of buses travelling along the pedestrian area, between Baker Street and Watnall Road — is proving highly controversial.
Coun Chris Baron (Lab), a former member of Notts County Council who is now on Ashfield Council, said it would run against the concept of pedestrianisation and cause a danger of accidents.
But Coun Mick Murphy, a Hucknall Conservative member of the county council, thought shopkeepers would welcome the chance of customers being able to get off buses near their premises.