Isham bypass 'could open in 2025'

Campaigners have been battling for it for decades

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 7:00 am
Traffic on the A509 in Isham.
Traffic on the A509 in Isham.

The long-awaited Isham bypass could finally open by the autumn of 2025 under a new timetable for the scheme.

Villagers have campaigned for a bypass linking Kettering and Wellingborough for decades to tackle the amount of traffic travelling through Isham, which sees more than 25,000 vehicle movements a day.

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, and there was frustration last year when it was announced that a business case would have to be completely revised.

The route of the Isham bypass, highlighted in black. The blue/green area to the left is the A14 Junction 9 roundabout, with Isham being the red area just above the route.

That case was submitted again to the Department for Transport in December - and the Northants Telegraph can reveal that its current timetable hopes it would now be ready to open in about four-and-a-half years.

Bypass campaigner Graham Rait, who lives just off the A509 in Isham, said: "I'm very pleased to hear it and I hope it comes to fruition.

"But on current performance, I am not entirely optimistic."

The current planning permission for the bypass runs out next year and Northamptonshire County Council say that, pending a decision by the Government on whether to provide further funding, a new application should be submitted towards the end of 2021.

Work is starting on environmental surveys and redesigning elements of the scheme.

The north end of the bypass plan needs to be realigned to link it to a new roundabout being constructed on the A509 as part of a huge warehouse park near Junction 9 of the A14, which will see a 1km stretch of the road made a dual carriageway.

Cllr Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council's cabinet member for highways and place, said: “Once planning permission has been granted it will be necessary to obtain the land for the scheme, either through agreement with landowners or via the compulsory purchase route, which may involve a public inquiry.

"Only once these powers have been obtained, and a price obtained from the contractor who will build the road, will it be possible to obtain funding approval from the Department for Transport, assuming as we hope they will, given that they have supported the scheme up to that point.

“The county council will continue to progress the scheme until Vesting Day and then it will be up to the new North Northamptonshire Council to continue the work.

"Given the complexity of the scheme, there is a great deal that could change but the current programme would see construction start in autumn 2023 and the bypass opened for traffic in autumn 2025.”

Wellingborough MP Peter Bone said he was pleased with the news but that he was cautiously optimistic having twice been given "guaranteed" dates that failed to materialise.

He told the Northants Telegraph: "I am encouraged but not relaxed by it and will keep the pressure on.

"I do not want to get to August 2023 and they change it again. It's time.

"If we are going to get the houses built at Wellingborough North as the Government wants then the infrastructure needs to be there."

Mr Bone, who previously suggested the only way work would start was if he got on a digger himself, jokingly added: "Maybe I ought to order a JCB for the autumn of 2023."

When built the bypass will commence at the Junction 9 roundabout of the A14 and run in a southerly direction, west of the village of Isham, and rejoin the A509 Kettering Road midway between Hill Top and Great Harrowden.

There will be two roundabout junctions. One will be at a junction with the existing A509 Kettering Road, south of the A14 Pytchley roundabout, with the second at a junction with the B574 Hill Top Road.

A Department for Transport spokesman said they are are currently reviewing the county council's strategic outline business case, and that the timescale for this work will depend on the nature and number of clarification issues that arise.

Ministers will then come to a decision on whether to approve the business case and allow the council to proceed to the next stage, the spokesman added.