Council’s £30m road scheme ‘isn’t in danger’
A new road ‘critical to the future of Swindon’ will be delivered on time, the councillor in charge of the project is confident.
Swindon Borough Council is looking to spend £30m on a route – called the southern connector road – which will connect thousands of houses to be built as part of the New Eastern Villages expansion scheme.
Its plans to buy farmland to the east of the A419 near Wanborough by a compulsory purchase order have upset some of the landowners and a public inquiry is to be held to look into it in January.
But Gary Sumner the council’s cabinet member for strategic planning says that is part of the process and he’s not worried it will delay the road, and the expansion programme.
He said: “We’ve already been doing a lot of work on this, and a public inquiry is a normal part of the compulsory purchase process.
“It’s not a surprise, and the timings have been carefully worked out – the application for the road will go to the planning committee on Monday, then there will be the inquiry.”
While he £30m cost is fully funded by two grants from central government, £11m from the Local Growth Fund, and £19m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, there is a deadline the council has to meet.
The LGF money must be spent by March 2021.
Coun Sumner said: “We are already spending the money on the preparatory work, such as meeting with landowners, which we’ve been doing for two years now.”
Although diggers on site won’t be seen until January 2021 – should the public inquiry approve the plans – Coun Sumner added: “We won’t be trying to use all the money between January and March that year, we are already a long way into the work.”
He is clear that the road is a critical plank for the NEV programme which could see as many as 8,000 new houses built from South Marston down to just north of the Commonhead roundabout.
He said: “It gives access to the A419 and M4 for about 3,000 houses in the southern part of the NEV.
“Without it, there will still be a more traffic, but it will be using other roads and the White Hart roundabout. If the houses aren’t delivered it opens the door to unwelcome developments piecemeal in other locations around Swindon.”
Plans for the road will be considered by the borough council’s planning committee tonight. The public inquiry starts on Tuesday, January 28, at the civic offices.