Why work might have to be halted on major £25m M1 junction upgrade
A £25 million upgrade of an M1 junction in Leicestershire could be halted because of a shortage of cash.
Leicestershire County Council has started work on a major project to improve Junction 23 of the motorway, near Loughborough, and the A512 but says it has not yet secured a deal to get the £8 million it was expecting to get from housing developers.
Site clearance and tree felling is already well underway near the junction but County Hall highways officers have warned they now may have to suspend the work until at least the autumn.
The scheme is intended to cut existing congestion around the junction and increase its capacity to deal with the nearby development of 3,000 homes between Loughborough and Shepshed as well the growth of the Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP).
Some £12 million has been secured from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) and £5 million from Highways England.
The council says it was prepared to put up the remaining millions but has not yet nailed down an agreement with the developers to recover it.
While it says it thinks it will get that deal by the end of this month it is also preparing to put the scheme on hold because if it continues it reduces the chances of ever getting the cash back.
Officials are looking at fall-back positions if the developer cash cannot be secured.
These include removing elements of the scheme that benefit the developers, leaving it to the developers to deliver those elements on a piecemeal basis or finding other sources of funding.
Labour North West Loughborough county councillor Max Hunt said: “We had been led to believe the agreement for the developer contributions for this scheme had been nailed down last a year ago but now we hear officers suggesting a major and much needed project, that is well underway, could be suspended.
“It’s worrying that we have launched into a scheme knowing what it will cost but also knowing we don’t have all the money for it.”
What County Hall says
County council cabinet member for environment and transport Blake Pain said: “We’re confident that the agreements will be in place by the end of the month as we continue to have discussions with the developers.
“We will be progressing with the preparatory works previously announced to keep the programme on track while these talks continue.
“To minimise disruption, we’re trying to deliver this work in one go and that does involve working to different time scales and with different people looking to get the most benefit out of their funding.”
He added: “This does present different challenges from, previously, when the county council would receive all necessary funds from one source, however, all parties believe this can be resolved.
“The scheme is vital to the future of the area’s economy as it supports sustainable housing and employment to the west of Loughborough and in Shepshed as well as improving journey times and accessibility and safety, particularly linked to vehicles queueing from the M1.