Frustration as Isham bypass "back at the bottom of the pile"

Villagers have wanted a bypass for 40 years

Traffic in Isham
Traffic in Isham

Campaigners have spoken of their frustration after they were told the case for the long-awaited Isham bypass must be "completely revised".

Those living in the A509 village have been calling for the new road since the 1980s but despite several promising situations work has never started.

The scheme has previously received planning permission and once had £25m in funding - only to lose it because the remaining £15m for the scheme couldn't be found.

Last month Wellingborough MP Peter Bone was told in a letter from transport minister Baroness Vere that, whilst the scheme has been planned for several years, delays mean Northamptonshire County Council now need a completely revised business case.

Mr Bone said the county council's priority must be dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic - but said he will be on their case as soon as it is over.

He said: "When I first came to Wellingborough in 1997 it was needed then and it is certainly needed now.

"So many times we have come to the top of the list and by now the spade should have gone into the ground.

"The county [council] is doing a very good job dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and I am certainly not going to cause some issues whilst it's going on.

"But afterwards I will want to know why they think they have to have a new business case."

Isham bypass campaigner Graham Rait said it feels like they are "a long way off" from seeing the bypass become a reality.

He said: "It's been to the top of the pile three times and now because they're saying it's a new scheme it back at the bottom again.

"It's so frustrating you're almost at the point of giving up.

"We have the permanent drone of traffic. Eight-and-a-half million vehicles travel through a year but this is a village."

Last month Kettering Council approved a bid to make part of the A509 from Kettering towards Isham a dual carriageway as part of plans for a controversial warehouse park nearby.

That stretch could, at a later date, become a phase of the bypass.

In a separate meeting last month Wellingborough Council committed £1m to getting the design work on the Isham bypass started using funds from the sale of land at Wellingborough North.

That's despite planning and funding road infrastructure being Northamptonshire County Council's responsibility and former Wellingborough Council leader Cllr Paul Bell urged them to "get on with it".

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “Business cases for major road schemes only have a finite life, as they need to be updated to ensure that all the costs and benefits are at current values.

"We knew when we submitted Isham Bypass for Major Road Network funding last year that the business case would need to be updated to meet the Department for Transport’s requirements as the funder. Cabinet (the council's ruling group) agreed last month to progress the necessary work, using funding from Wellingborough Council, and we are now getting that work under way.

“We remain committed to the delivery of the many various road projects agreed by cabinet last month, to get them to a stage where we can apply for government funding as and when this becomes available and will continue to invest into the Northamptonshire’s road network and give our communities access to the best possible road system.”

Planning permission was granted for the road eight years ago, but runs out in 2022 and it looks like the council will now have to reapply for planning permission.

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