Campaigners have suffered a setback in achieving their goal of a new M49 junction in Severnside.
The Highways Agency (HA) has lodged its objection to the new motorway junction – a commitment set out in South Gloucestershire Council’s draft Core Strategy as a way of managing future development in the Severnside area.
In its response to the council’s recent Core Strategy consultation – which started in March before the change of government – the HA stated that a new junction would be against its policy, which is a presumption against new accesses to motorways.
But the policy – set out in ‘Department for Transport Circular 02/2007’ – was issued in 2007 by the previous Labour government.
Now that the new government has taken power, campaigners are calling for a review of that policy.
A new M49 junction is being sought because Severnside – including the Western Approach Distribution Centre – is expanding rapidly thanks to a 1957 planning consent, which is putting pressure on the local road network, particularly from HGVs.
Construction of a new motorway junction could potentially be funded by the growth in business rates that is almost certain to result from ongoing development in the area.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has referred to this as ‘Tax Incremental Financing’ and the government plans to allow local authorities to use this tool to fund new infrastructure in the future.
Pilning resident and campaigner, Robert Griffin, added:
“Because the council started consulting on its draft Core Strategy in March before the change of government, it seems that the Highways Agency is still adhering to the policy that the previous government introduced in 2007.
As a local resident, the thought of an ever expanding level of heavy goods traffic using our already over-stretched local road network fills me with horror.
Major highway changes, like a new M49 junction, would make a real difference to local people’s quality of life and we need to do all we can to achieve this, including pushing the new government to review the policy obstacles put in place by the last government.”
Cllr Sheila Cook, Deputy Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said:
“We are confident that we can make the case to the new government to look favourably on this scheme because – thanks to the new Chancellor’s plans to introduce Tax Incremental Financing – we potentially have a fresh and innovative way to fund new infrastructure, like a new M49 junction.”
MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, Jack Lopresti, said:
“The impact of current and future development at Severnside on the local road network and residents living nearby is a huge issue locally – and that means that it is a key priority of mine.”
“I plan to raise this issue with Ministers and the fact that the previous government’s stance against new motorway access points needs to be reviewed in light of our experience at Severnside.”
Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council