Landowners could be forced to sell to make way for Banwell Bypass
- Credit: North Somerset Council/Crown Copyright
Landowners could be forced to sell their property to deliver the long-awaited Banwell Bypass in an “incredibly tight” timescale.
Awarding a £97million grant, the Government gave North Somerset Council until the end of next year to secure the route for the new road and said it needs to be built by March 2024.
The Homes England funding will also pay for a 900-place secondary school expansion at Parklands Village, improvements to local roads and utilities, and flood mitigation. It all needs to be delivered in three years or the council will face financial penalties.
Speaking at the executive meeting on April 28, Councillor Steve Bridger, the new member for major infrastructure projects, said: “Delivery of the Banwell Bypass is one of a number of projects the council sees as crucial to the economic recovery of the district.
“The contract between the council and Homes England requires us to have acquired all the land we need to deliver the bypass by December 2022.
“We are already building up a pretty good picture of where the sentiment lies.
“There will be those people who are probably pretty eager to sell, others willing to negotiate and there may be some who will flatly refuse.”
The executive authorised officers to enter negotiations with landowners and file compulsory purchase orders where necessary.
Three different route alignments – within the same broad area and including the route safeguarded since 2016 – are currently being considered.
Papers for the meeting say the council needs to ensure that the most appropriate route alignment for the bypass is progressed and it is particularly concerned to ensure that the selected route minimises environmental impacts.
Banwell councillor Karin Haverson said the bypass needs to form part of a network of sustainable travel opportunities.
Project manager Jonathan Periselneris said active and sustainable travel will be at the core of the project and it will give a 10 per cent net boost to biodiversity.
The council will submit a planning application for the road in due course.
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Cllr Bridger promised “substantial” public engagement throughout the process but added: “It’s probably my job to ensure that doesn’t break progress because there will be consequences should we should that bypass not be delivered by March 2024.”
Speaking after the meeting, deputy leader Mike Bell said: “We don’t want the risk of government holding back funding because we haven’t delivered on time. We need to deliver the bypass on time and on budget.
“There will be a funding impact we just don’t want if we don’t get it right.”
Leader Don Davies said there would also be a risk to the council’s reputation if it fails to deliver the roads and school places needed to meet local demand and drive down congestion in Banwell.