Report which led to council’s decision to bin bypass is published
PUBLISHED: 12:05 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:14 06 December 2018
A report – which led to the decision to shelve plans for a bypass in Sudbury – has been published today.
A bypass for Sudbury remains an “aspiration for the future”, according to a council after a report which led the authority to shelve plans for the proposed road was published.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) announced last month that plans to build a bypass in the town will not go ahead due to the cost – between £50million and £70m – being “prohibitively high”.
The council said the option of a bypass will remain in the county’s Local Transport Plan and the district’s Local Plan as an aspiration for the future.
The council says the Options Assessment Report it commissioned from consultancy firm WSP “clearly sets out” the most cost-effective way of relieving traffic in Sudbury is to move forward with a £10m programme of junction improvements in the town.
MORE: ‘Another 40 years of traffic misery’ - anger at decision NOT to build Sudbury bypass
The proposed bypass divided opinion in the town, with some welcoming the idea, while others were concerned about its impact on the surrounding Water Meadows.
Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said: “This report clearly sets out the options that have been considered to relieve congestion around Sudbury town centre and highlights the reasons why improvements to existing infrastructure are the most cost-effective solution.
“The option of a bypass was explored in detail, but the low benefit cost ratio means that the council would be unable to secure funding for such a project from any of the very competitive national funding opportunities.
“The county council are dedicated to finding the best solution for Sudbury and I am committed to working closely with Babergh District Council, Sudbury Town Council and other stakeholders to move forward with the junction improvement programme.”
The junctions proposed for development in the town are: A134/A131/B1064, A134/B1115, A134/Newton Road/Shawlands Avenue, A131/Newton Road/Cornard Road/Great Eastern Road (Belle Vue Junction), A131 Ballingdon Hill/Bulmer Road.
MORE: Environmental impact of bypass was toned down in report, claims councillor
John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council said it was “disappointing” but added that the bypass remains part of Babergh’s vision for Sudbury.
“It’s disappointing that the cost benefit ratio for a Sudbury bypass is now much lower, meaning it’s not a viable and affordable option at this time,” he said.
“However, building a bypass remains a firm aspiration as we strongly believe that the benefits will increase quickly as Sudbury grows. A bypass is very much part of Babergh’s Sudbury Vision for Prosperity.
“We are pleased that the study suggested that improvements to traffic flow in the town can be achieved in the short term through changes to key junctions. We will work with Suffolk County Council to prioritise these and take them forward for Sudbury.”
Jack Owen, Labour spokesman for transport and county councillor for Sudbury, said; “Once again the Tory-run council has got it wrong. It is astonishing that they seem intent on avoiding taking decisions that will resolve the traffic issues in Sudbury.
“They have commissioned a helpful report that identifies that the best solutions for our town. This report says that either a short western or southern bypass were the two options that would alleviate the traffic problems in Sudbury and would fulfil the criteria that the county council set themselves.
“These two options give the best strategic and commercial solutions to solve the fundamental problem of too much traffic in Sudbury Town centre.
“So, what do the council decide to do? They are proposing to tinker with junctions, something the report admits will do nothing to decrease the amount of traffic. I am baffled by the logic.”
A spokesman for Sudbury Town council said: “The town council is very disappointed that the bypass has been put back to an aspiration but does recognise that due to the funding gap at the present time it is not achievable.
“So, we are looking forward to working closely with Suffolk County Council, Babergh and Sudbury Steering Group to deliver much needed traffic improvements to the town.”
Robert Lindsay, Green Party county councillor who spearheaded the Save Our Meadows campaign against the bypass said: “The report vindicates what we always said about the costs of a bypass being higher than the benefits.
“But it recommends junction improvements that it admits will do nothing to cut vehicles in Sudbury town centre and is likely to encourage more cars in the town and may worsen air quality.
“We need junctions that prioritise foot and cycle traffic. The report rules out encouraging more people to walk, cycle or get the bus because it assumes some ‘stakeholders’ will not agree.
“It’s time our local politicians got interested in solutions that cost little, cut pollution and improve the quality of life for everyone.”
The county council said it will now work with the re-instated Sudbury Steering Group and the Sudbury Vision group to identify and develop junction improvements.
The first step will be a workshop in January to establish a list of schemes, before a forward programme will be developed over the next six months.
The report can be viewed here: www.suffolk.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/transport-planning/consultations-and-studies/