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Essex: £2.5m boost for A120 improvements

Traffic queuing on the A120

Traffic queuing on the A120

Braintree District Council (BDC) has pledged £2.5million for vital improvements to the A120.

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The money is almost half of the New Homes Bonus (NHB) the authority has received from central government.

Although it will not pay for the entire A120 access improvement package, estimated to cost at least £10million, the council hopes it will help to draw out further funding from Essex County Council (ECC), the Highways Agency and the private sector.

The improvements it will support are better access to Braintree from the A120 and measures to tackle congestion, rather than dualling or building bypasses.

NHB is a government grant awarded to local authorities based on additional council tax raised from new homes, and will see BDC receive £5.89million.

In 2012 the council agreed to split the money between affordable housing investment and projects delivering economic growth and new jobsm rather than to shore up the general budget.

Other projects to benefit from the money are a new enterprise centre in Witham. This is earmarked for £2m from the Single Local Growth Fund, and NHB funding of £0.5m will make up the shortfall.

Built by the council and run by an external provider the centre will offer start-up units and business support for new firms.

Broadband investment will also have a £0.25m boost, to support ECC’s superfast broadband project bringing better connections to business sites, while £1.25m will be saved in a re-investment fund to allow the council to buy strategically important land or assets.

A further £481,000 will create a project feasibility and development fund.

Lady Patricia Newton, councillor for planning and property at BDC, said: “We are an ambitious council and we want to use this money to boost economic growth, support new and existing business and increase job opportunities for all.

“Unlike many other authorities, we have opted not to use the NHB to support our base budget but rather to invest into key infrastructure projects which will drive further investment in the district.

“This funding will not solely finance these projects, as, for example, the A120 improvements will cost around £10-£13million to complete. However what it does do is lever contributions from other sources.

“In gaining additional funding it is important that proposals are ‘shovel ready’.

“The creation of a feasibility and development fund is important as it will allow for feasibility work to be undertaken to progress projects and be in a better position to gain new funding.”

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