Bypass is ‘unachievable’ for town says NK leader

Reducing traffic congestion at Southgate level crossing in Sleaford is one of the key aims of the new modelling project by the county and district councils. EMN-160126-121905001
Reducing traffic congestion at Southgate level crossing in Sleaford is one of the key aims of the new modelling project by the county and district councils. EMN-160126-121905001

Growing hopes that a southern bypass route for Sleaford could materialise may have come skidding to a halt.

In a bid to move forward with plans to kick start the town’s economic regeneration and cope with increased rail traffic, North Kesteven District Council has been looking into a selection of up to 11 possible options for improving traffic flow.

One of these is a possible bypass to the south of the town, from the A17 to the A15 with links to Mareham Lane, but a note of caution has been sounded by NKDC leader Marion Brighton.

She said: “It is appropriate that a full bypass is considered through the wide-ranging traffic modelling assessments. But with a probable price tag of around £60million I do not believe it is remotely achievable; especially if we reflect on the long and arduous journey of financing the £100m Lincoln Eastern Bypass which is still awaiting a conclusion.

“It is unfortunate that the one scheme we did have that fulfilled all of these objectives without reliance on a single penny of public funding – the £10m Tesco was committed to providing for the link road scheme – is now lost. It is for that reason that we have to think afresh.”

Coun Brighton said the district council has ‘not sat back’ in the year since Tesco backed out of its new store plans and pledge to fund the Link Road from Mareham Lane to Boston Road.

She said they have been working through traffic modelling scenarios with Lincolnshire County Council to identify a range of possibilities for improved movement in and around the town for pedestrians, shoppers and drivers as and when new developments take off, as well as preparing for potentially increased rail traffic causing further delays at Southgate crossing.

She said: “While the prospect of a southern bypass for Sleaford is an aspiration many would like to see fulfilled, this has to be balanced against the availability of funds to finance it and the reality of its deliverability.”

She said whichever option was decided upon it would be reliant upon the availability of public money, which she admitted was not as freely available it previously had been.

As well as the ambitious southern bypass option, more attainable schemes looked at include part pedestrianisation of Southgate with spurs off Southgate and Boston Road into the Tesco site; the previously-approved Link Road in its current, and an extended format; and an upgrade of Maltings Way. Further work is looking into pedestrianisation over different times of the day.

This will help shape future uses of the old Advanta Seeds site if sold on, the delivery of the Maltings scheme, future housing growth and economic development. The options should be available for the public to consider towards the end of February.

Reacting to the potential option of a spur road to the Advanta site from Boston Road, Sleaford Town Council has issued cautious approval stating that it is development that will provide ‘a genuine benefit for the regeneration of Sleaford’ as well as adding to its ‘retail offer’.

In its statement the council said it would still not support a proposal that includes loss of any Recreation Ground land, but could support a proposal for a road through the Bristol Bowls Club, providing it is only to access that site and not extend over the railway.

The Town Council is seeking a meeting with the district and county council representatives to discuss this matter further.