John Penrose’s view on plans for Junction 21A and Banwell Bypass
PUBLISHED: 16:00 07 March 2019
Weston MP John Penrose has criticised a masterplan which will create a ‘new town’ in North Somerset, demanding the proposals focus on tackling the district’s congestion woes instead.
The MP has told of ‘important concerns’ he has with the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP), created by councils in the West Country with hopes of modernising the region’s transport network.
Mr Penrose believes the JLTP could exacerbate traffic problems instead of solving them.
The proposals are linked to the Joint Spatial Plan, which will see tens of thousands of homes created in North Somerset in the coming decades – including a pair of ‘garden villages’ near Banwell and Churchill which have garnered criticism from villagers.
Among the proposals in the JLTP are a Junction 21A on the M5 near Weston and a long-called-for Banwell bypass.
Improvements to rail and cycle links have also been promised.
A public consultation on the plans was launched last month by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), but Mr Penrose holds ‘important concerns’ with the blueprints.
In a letter to WECA, he called for the JLTP to focus on ‘tackling Weston’s congestion problems, rather than focusing on plans to justify a new town near Churchill’.
The MP argued the plans should prioritise upgrades to the M5 between junctions 20-21, and said the creation of garden villages could make traffic problems worse rather than better.
He added: “This is an opportunity to make sure local people spend less time in their cars and more time at home having fun with their families.
“With the plans serving as the framework for transport in and around the West for the next 18 years, it’s vital we get them right and that priority be given to problems that already exist.”
When the consultation was launched, North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton said the JLTP would lead to a better transport network.
He said: “The ambitions and success of this plan are vital to making sure our region’s transport infrastructure addresses existing and expected challenges, accommodates planned housing and employment growth, and improves connections for people and businesses across all transport types.”