Delayed: £7m Beccles Relief Road is behind schedule
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
Construction of the long-awaited Beccles Southern Relief Road has been delayed and will not go ahead this spring as originally planned.
Work on the road has been held up due to complications purchasing the land it will run through, causing frustration for supporters of the scheme.
The relief road aims to remove heavy traffic from Beccles town centre, and will cost £7m to build, with £5m of funding from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the rest from Suffolk County Council.
The first stage of work was due to begin in spring this year, taking up to 18 months to complete.
However, speaking this week, LEP managing director Chris Starkie said: 'It is hoped construction will start later this year, this is later than originally planned due to delays assembling the land where the road will be built.
'It is an important infrastructure project, which will deliver new jobs, businesses and growth as well as helping ease congestion in the town centre.'
A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said it is still going through the compulsory purchase order process.
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A compulsory purchase order would give the council the right to obtain the land the road will be built on without the consent of the owner.
And because objections have been made to the order, a public inquiry will now take place with a final decision to be taken by the secretary of state on behalf of the planning inspectorate.
The spokesman said: 'Legalities drive the process and once the purchase of land is complete the work can start.
'The side road orders and compulsory purchase orders have been advertised and objections have been received. We are currently preparing for a public inquiry.'
If the inquiry, which will be chaired by an independent inspector, sustains the objections, the council could be forced to enter into further negotiations or look at what other options could be considered to complete the project. As yet, no date has been set for the inquiry.
The relief road is proposed to link the A145 London Road to Ellough to the south east of the town, providing faster access to Beccles Business Park and the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (New Anglia) Enterprise Zone, which together with the B1127 Copland Way will form a southern and eastern bypass of Beccles.
The new road will link the A146 Norwich to Lowestoft road to the north of Beccles with the A145 and A12 Ipswich Road, at the southern end of the town.
It will mean less congestion for Beccles as traffic will no longer need to travel through the town centre.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who is a keen supporter of the scheme, said: 'I am very disappointed that due to objections being made to the compulsory purchase order during the consultation process, there will now be a delay in the building of this vital road for Beccles.
'Like many local people I am very keen to see this road built and the benefits felt in Beccles and within the local economy.'
Mr Aldous said he would be in constant contact with the county council throughout the process to make sure it is completed as soon as possible.
Mayor of Beccles Hugh Taylor said: 'This is really, really important to the people of Beccles. We are disappointed that there is a delay but hopeful that this delay will yet be resolved in the interest of people in this community and the surrounding communities.'
New Anglia LEP secured their share of the funding as part of a £221m government pot, awarded up until 2021 to drive economic growth across Norfolk and Suffolk.
It will be used for new roads, innovation centres, new college centres, faster Broadband and funding to support the counties' businesses.