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Government called on to support A12 improvements in recognition of £133m economic benefits

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:13 27 January 2015

The four villages bypass campaigners pictured at the Farnham bend

The four villages bypass campaigners pictured at the Farnham bend

Long-standing bypass proposals in east Suffolk will be presented in a government funding bid as being a vital economic development worth more than £100million a year to the region.

Campaigners, councillors and council officers at last night's four villages bypass meeting in Stratford St AndrewCampaigners, councillors and council officers at last night's four villages bypass meeting in Stratford St Andrew

Highways chiefs and economic experts are using the forecasted financial benefits of the four villages bypass in their calls to secure funding from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The new growth-focused strategy was presented to the Four Villages Bypass campaign group during a meeting in Stratford St Andrew last night where it was welcomed as a decisive step forward in the long-running plans.

The scheme, estimated to cost between £45million and £105million, would see a new section of the A12 built around Marlesford, Little Glemham Stratford St Andrew and Farnham.

It has been on the cards for almost 40 years and once received DfT approval only to be pulled at the eleventh hour in 1996.

Previous arguments have focused on congestion, which is said to have reached intolerable levels over recent years.

EDF Energy’s proposals to build Sizewell C brought new impetus to the project as Suffolk County Council (SCC) sought to negotiate funding from the company in recognition of the strains likely to be placed on the road during construction.

The latest argument formulated by SCC and Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) highlights the economic case for improving the A12. It will be submitted to the DfT, in the hope that the government will cover the remaining costs once EDF’s contribution is factored in. The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is also expected to fund the project.

Andy Smith, who is the cabinet member for economic development at SCDC, said improvements to the A12 could sustain 2,600 new jobs, and 2,000 additional homes, while bring an additional £133million to the economy each year.

Speaking after last night’s meeting, he added: “The growing of the economy and the creation of new jobs has been limited by the shortcomings of transport in this area.

“We are saying to government that these improvements to the A12 could create significant levels of growth.”

SCC highways boss Graham Newman said the county council would be presenting the report to the DfT and calling for commitments to move the project forward “sooner rather than later”.

“There is a convincing case for immediate investment in the A12 corridor, particularly through the four villages, but we need government help to realise this,” he added.

“We are seeking the opportunity to discuss this with the DfT at the earliest opportunity.”

Campaigners have welcomed the new development as a positive step forward in a long-running battle.

Debbi Tayler, a spokesman for the campaign group, said: “I think we are as confident as we can be.

“We all feel that there’s a good economic case and now we’ve got the evidence to put onto paper, I think that’s event stronger.”

Ms Tayler, Mr Newman and Mr Smith all agreed that the potential to gain funding from the development of Sizewell C represents an opportunity not to be missed and one the government should relish as a cost-saving means of securing a major infrastructure project.

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