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Bypass Blockage - Highways Agency Must Act

May 1, 2013 6:29 PM

Dave Hodgson at the Clapham end of the planned final section of the Bedford Western BypassI have written here on numerous occasions about the importance for the borough of the final phase of the Bedford Western Bypass. It will bring numerous benefits, making Bedford even better connected, encouraging new economic growth and employment and quite simply making it easier for all road users to get around!

It really will have a hugely positive impact, and that's why we are doing all we can to bring forward construction as swiftly as possible. Plans for this section of road, linking the A428 at Biddenham with the A6 at Clapham, have been established for over thirty years, and we have been fighting to clear final barriers which remain in the way of this vital project. We issued Compulsory Purchase Orders in order to break the logjam, but due to an error by the Highways Agency back in 2001 this process has been held up.

During the building of the Paula Radcliffe Way (A6), bypassing Clapham to the north-east of Bedford, the Highways Agency blocked off access to land now owned by Bedford Land Investments. This land is not even on the route of the bypass but the company, which is seeking compensation from the Highways Agency, is objecting to our plans to complete the western bypass, putting a block on further progress at this stage. This means that the Compulsory Purchase Order will need to be resubmitted, if it is still required, once the Highways Agency has remedied this error. It really is appalling that they have not done so before now, with its failure to fix its mistake meaning that we have to pause when what we want is to get on and build this road for the benefit of the Borough.

The Council is continuing to work with landowners and we hope that all matters can be resolved through these negotiations, which would avoid the need for further legal proceedings once the Highways Agency has acted to address the legacy of its mistake all those years ago. There was further progress last week with the granting of planning permission this week for development associated with the bypass, which marked another step towards delivering this absolutely crucial project for the future of Bedford Borough.

Rest assured we will not let up in our fight to get this crucial road in place as soon as possible.