Cost of Grantham southern relief road increases by 25 per cent
Work on the second phase of the Grantham southern relief road is set to go ahead by the summer after a public inquiry finished on Wednesday - but the cost of the whole project has now increased by 25 per cent.
It was revealed the cost of the project has increased from £81 million to £102 million at the inquiry, which was completed in a day at the Jubilee Church Life Centre.
A spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council, which is behind the road build, said the extra cost of the project will be covered by the council and it has applied for housing infrastructure funding to help offset the cost.
After the inquiry ended, Coun Richard Davies, the county council’s executive member for highways, said: “Today’s inquiry went really well and lasted just four-and-a-half hours.
“Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the Department for Transport and Secretary of State to come to an official decision, which we hope will be fairly straightforward since there were no objections in the end.
“The process for this sort of thing can sometimes take several months, but we’ll be pushing for a quicker turn around so we can make a start on the second phase of the relief road early this
“In the meantime, we’re working through the procurement process and doing everything else we can to ensure we can break ground as soon as central Government gives us the all clear.”
But a Grantham councillor who has criticised the process of building the relief road in the past, described the increase in cost as ‘disgusting’.
Coun Nick Craft, a member of South Kesteven District Council, told the Journal: “They could have got on with the side road orders three years ago. It’s a disgrace that it has taken so long and I am concerned that the cost of the road building has been quite horrendous.
“I have been very much in favour of the relief road, but I have been a critic of how long they have taken to get it all done.”
The second phase of the scheme, which will join the B1174 to the A1 trunk road via a grade-separated junction, is expected to start this year and will take approximately 18 months to construct.
Construction of the third and final phase of the relief road, which will link the A52 at Somerby Hill to the new roundabout off the B1174, crossing the Witham Valley, the East Coast railway line and the River Witham by means of a viaduct/bridge, will begin shortly after the start of phase two and is expected to take about three years to build.
Four public bodies originally objected to the plans, which led to the inquiry by the Department for Transport. However, the initial inquiry at the beginning of December had to be postponed by planning inspector Martin Whitehead after an “administrative error” which left no notices listed along the route notifying the public of an inquiry.
Shortly afterwards, the county council announced it had concluded discussions with objectors which saw Western Power, Zurich, Network Rail and Grantham Motor Company remove their final objections.
Coun Davies called the delays a “cock-up” but hailed the withdrawal as “great news”.
Barrister Simon Randle, who represented LCC, Highways England and the Department for Transport, told the inquiry on Wednesday “the benefits are clear, and without this that will not be achieved”.
He added: “Following objections being made, the council has made great efforts to meet with and resolve the matters raised by the objectors. The result is there are no remaining objectors – statutory or otherwise.”
Alen Chanamuto, senior project leader with LCC, told the inquiry: “Without the scheme, the district and county council’s ambitions for Grantham cannot be achieved as the current infrastructure in place is insufficient to sustain the planned growth.”
More experts described benefits to the quality of life for Grantham residents, workers and shoppers by improving the air quality and creating opportunities for healthier lifestyles as well as a reduction in the number of traffic accidents over the next 60 years.
Mr Chanamuto told the public inquiry that a financial review had been carried out on the project.
He said: “The review showed that estimated overall cost of the GSRR has increased to £102m.”
The cost included £4.4m on phase 1, £22.6m on phase 2 and an estimated £75 million for phase three.
Mr Chanamuto told the inquiry the authority has made allowances for any adverse effects. “Any delays, the council has stocks it can dip into its budget to meet,” he said.
More than £33 million funding has been secured towards the relief road, including £6 million from Highways England, £16.1 million from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and £11.9 million Local Transport Board money through Section 106 contributions, future funding bids and other commercial deals negotiated by the council.
South Kesteven District Council deputy leader Kelham Cooke said he looked forward to the opportunities the road would bring now it was one step closer – including a reduction of congestion and linking up vital road networks.
He said the relief road would unlock a huge amount of development.
He said: “It will then support the destination of the town and create a much nicer environment for people to come visit and shop and enjoy the leisure activities that are coming into the town centre.”
SKDC’s plans include work with the Woodland Trust to bring trees back into the area, further pedestrianisation and bringing together the regeneration of the £1.6 million St Peter’s Hill work and new cinema.
Coun Cooke praised the county council for the work it had done to get the objections withdrawn and said it was a huge relief for the people of Grantham who had been waiting more than 80 years for a bypass.
Last year it was revealed the Lincoln Eastern Bypass will cost £120 million instead of £99 million and will also be finished in May 2020 instead of December 2019.
The Grantham relief road project is being led by the county council and supported by South Kesteven District Council, Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Highways England, Homes and Communities Agency and local businesses.