Halstead: Hopes for A131 bypass dashed

Halstead High Street

Halstead High Street

HOPES that a bypass could be built around an Essex market town have been dashed.

Campaigners in Halstead have argued for a relief road for over a decade but now the proposed route is set to be formally removed from the Local Transport Plan, meaning there is little chance of it being built in the foreseeable future.

Members of Braintree District Council’s Local Development Framework Sub-Committee voted to delete the A131 bypass from the plan last week following recommendations from Essex County Council, which has said there is no money available to build the road.

In briefing notes circulated to committee members, Braintree District Council officers advised that to leave the proposed route on the plan would be ‘misleading’.

They added: “The Plan is not intended to show infrastructure proposals that are considered to be desirable, but only those that are deliverable.

“The retention of this route on the proposals map, with no available funding, is therefore doubly misleading to residents of Halstead and surrounding villages.”

But Halstead councillor Jackie Pell, who was instrumental in getting the idea for a bypass on the agenda during her tenure as town mayor, said the decision had her “spitting fire”.

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She said: “The lorries that are coming through here are getting bigger and it only takes one problem on the road through Halstead for there to be huge hold-ups. We are trapped within our own confines.

“They say there is no money at the moment but who knows what might become available in the future.

Mrs Pell added: “At the moment there are no houses built on the proposed route of the bypass but this decision might free up the land for housing development. Then, if a bypass becomes possible in the future some might have to be demolished.”

However, not all people in Halstead were despondent at the news. Chairman of Halstead and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Anne-Maree Robertson, said retailers in the town depended on through traffic.

She added: “We do get snarled up with lorries at times but traders also benefit from traffic passing through the town. People stop for a cup of tea and some shopping or see what a pretty town we are and make a mental note to come back another day.”