Carlisle council’s £5m confidence vote for southern link road
Efforts to establish a new Southern Link Road in Carlisle are moving forward, after city councillors agreed to hand over £5m funding.
The money, to be matched by an identical contribution from Cumbria County Council, will help to get the ambitious project off the ground.
If successful, the new five-mile road would connect junction 42 of the M6 with the A595 in the west of the city.
With the northern relief road already in place, and the motorway to the east, this would effectively complete a ring around Carlisle – creating a “missing link” in the city’s infrastructure.
Those behind the £113m plan say it would cut congestion in the city centre and help attract investment to the area.
It is also part of the wider St Cuthbert’s Garden Village plan, to establish new residential areas to the south of the city.
However to secure the new link road, Cumbria must first bid against other local authorities for a share of a £4.1 billion pot of Government money.
Cumbria County Council is preparing to submit an outline business case, which includes initial local funding contributions.
Carlisle City Council’s ruling executive met this week to discuss whether to back the outline business case, and stump up its half of the £10m of the initial funding needed.
The money would be forward funding, which would be reimbursed by developers at a later date.
Anne Glendinning, the city council’s economy, enterprise and housing portfolio holder, urged fellow members to support the plan.
“Cumbria County Council has already met and agreed its share of the upfront money. It’s now for us to support the business case, and secondly support the principle of financial contribution,” she said.
“It’s the next logical step in this rather long story. A lot of work has gone into this.”
Council leader Colin Glover seconded her proposal at the meeting, held at Carlisle’s Civic Centre, on Monday.
He said: “There is major activity going on that will grow the economy of Carlisle. This supports that work.”
He stressed that it was key to the delivery of new housing infrastructure as part of the St Cuthbert’s Garden Village vision.
The recommendations were unanimously backed by the executive.
A government decision on the funding bid is expected in November.
If it succeeds, the cash would come from the so-called Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Officials say councils bidding for infrastructure funding have to demonstrate local support for the scheme – and prove that they can provide “up-front” funding.
That is why both authorities have agreed to provide forward funding, to be reimbursed by developers in future.
An initial public consultation about the route of the Southern Link Road has already been held, showing that there is public backing for the scheme. Two routes were put forward, an ‘orange’ and ‘green’ option, with the green route getting the majority of support.