Combined Authority helps Whittlesey take traffic-beating plans forward
Plans to tackle transport issues and boost economic growth in the market town of Whittlesey have taken a step forward thanks to Combined Authority funding.
Following the establishment of a Whittlesey Relief Road project board earlier this year, consultant Mott MacDonald has been appointed by Fenland District Council to lead the development of a Strategic Outline Business Case – SOBC.
The SOBC will examine a range of transport solutions to assess and determine whether the Relief Road is the best option to push forward – and, if it is, to demonstrate need for Government funding to make it happen.
The Combined Authority has agreed to fund the development of the SOBC as part of its ongoing Growing Fenland project of economic masterplans for the district.
The £260k comes from the Combined Authority’s Market Towns Programme.
Deputy Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Cllr Anna Smith:
“The Combined Authority is committed to helping local areas develop the solutions that work best for them and our Growing Fenland and Market Towns Programme reflect that – programmes designed to make sure that areas, so often overlooked in the past, get the support they deserve.
“One of the main benefits of devolution is ensuring that decisions are made closer to the people affected by them. I am therefore delighted that our funding will help Whittlesey residents to make an evidence-based decision about the right transport solution for their needs, building community and helping build prosperity.”
The consultants will now work with elected representatives and officers from Fenland District Council, Whittlesey Town Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority itself to draw up the SOBC.
The work will identify the key transport issues faced in Whittlesey, examine why they need to be addressed, and identify and explore options to resolve them.
The initial relief road inception study, commissioned by Whittlesey Town Council in 2020, concluded there was sufficient evidence to proceed to the SOBC stage. The study indicated that a relief road could facilitate future commercial growth, increasing capacity for new housing, improving journey reliability, and reducing congestion, as well as yielding better air quality and road safety conditions.
Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder for transport and project board member, said: “I’m pleased that the next step in the relief road project is getting under way for the residents of Whittlesey who have waited many years for this.
“We know problems with traffic flow and congestion are a frustration to many and a hurdle to the future prosperity of the town, but we’re determined to develop a robust case for the most appropriate solution.”
Public consultation and stakeholder engagement will form part of the project as it takes shape and goes forward. It is intended that the business case will be completed by November 2024.
Cllr Chris Boden, Leader of Fenland District Council and project board member, said: “Large infrastructure projects such as this are very cumbersome to initiate, and the process is long.
“The first stage was satisfactorily achieved by Whittlesey Town Council who managed to obtain a report which was positive and led to the justification of the strategic outline business case, but there are many more stages to overcome.
“By the time a relief road would be constructed, the need in Whittlesey will be so obvious which is why steps are being taken now in order to prepare.”