Shortfall of £21m for new link road for 9,000 homes may widen

Essex County Council have spent over �8.5m on redundancies in 2017/18. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Essex County Council's HQ - Credit: Archant

A shortfall of more than £20m for a new link road to support a 9,000-home development between Colchester and Tendring could widen - with no guarantee the money will be made up from central Government.

Essex County Council has not only asked the Government for an additional £21m to be released to pay for the increased costs of the new A133/A120 link road east of Colchester but for the deadline for completion to be extended to August 2025 – the contract with the Government had stipulated the road had to be completed by 2024.

In addition, the additional funding request of £21.13m and funding extension to October 2025 assumes that a public inquiry (PI) is not required for the project.

The government had allocated £99m of Housing Infrastructure Fund money for the delivery of the link road and a rapid transport system to enable the development of a 9,000-home garden town on the Tendring and Colchester border.

The county council – which gave planning permission for the road at the time costed at £70m in November 2021 – has admitted there is a risk that Homes England and the Treasury will not be willing to fund the cost escalation of £21.25m in full or are not willing to the full programme extension.

Essex County Council is currently negotiating with several landowners and if a public inquiry is necessary to resolve those issues, the programme would be extended by an estimated period of 12 months with costs increasing significantly owing to materials increases and inflation.

Essex County Council has said it would again need to seek a programme extension or consider alternative approaches to funding unless there was a significant reduction in scope.

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Should land be acquired late there is a risk that this will delay the overall construction programme and may result in additional mitigation works.

Lesley Wagland, cabinet member for economic renewal, infrastructure and planning said at Essex County Council cabinet: “From Essex’s point of view we have a strong track record of negotiating these with local landowners in a way which produces a mutually satisfactory response and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be the case here.”

She added: “In terms of there being a funding gap it is something which we’re looking at against the background of slightly different financial and economic parameters."