Mersey Gateway Project gets green light from special council committee
Councillors unanimously gave the green light to the detailed plans for the Mersey Gateway Project last night (Monday 28 July).
Halton Borough Council?s Development Control Committee referred three applications that will allow the project to proceed to the Secretary of State without objection. It also endorsed the content of the Transport and Works Act (TWA) application submitted to the Department for Transport in the same way.
In a special hearing dedicated to the Mersey Gateway Project, the committee considered two planning applications outlining major alterations to the road network in Runcorn and Widnes and an application for listed building consent to change the traffic flow and road layout on the Silver Jubilee Bridge once the Mersey Gateway bridge has been built.
Cllr Tony McDermott, Leader of Halton Borough Council and Chair of the Mersey Gateway Executive Board, said: “This is a major milestone for the project and keeps us on track to deliver a new crossing that will be a catalyst for delivering major changes and improvements for the future of Halton and the surrounding region. We will continue to work closely with local people and all our partners to ensure we deliver a project that brings the maximum possible benefits to the region.”
David Parr, Chief Executive of Halton Borough Council, said: “The whole region is looking for this project to bring major benefits to the area as it will improve access and open up new areas for investment. This is an exciting time for the region as this project, combined with plans for the region?s ports and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, will bring substantial new opportunities to the north west.”
Claire Hall, Mersey Gateway Project Manager, said: “This project fits with local, regional and national planning criteria. We are confident that the detailed proposals that were before the council?s Development Control Committee will result in a stunning new bridge and a programme of improvement and regeneration for the borough that will bring benefits for local people, businesses and commuters for years to come.”
In addition to a new bridge that will become an icon for the region, the impact of the proposals includes:
- more reliable and safer traffic journeys over the River Mersey;
- a flexible tolling strategy designed to secure the best deal for residents, commuters and businesses;
- demolition and removal of unnecessary road infrastructure and clearance and regeneration of large areas of land in Widnes and Runcorn to create new opportunities for leisure, housing and office premises;
- a revitalised Silver Jubilee Bridge with traffic levels reduced by 83%featuring a new ?green corridor? with improved public transport, cycling and walking facilities
- an overall reduction in CO2 traffic emissions caused by re-routing traffic and reducing congestion;
- extra capacity for the region?s fragile road network at a crucial bottleneck where it crosses the River Mersey;
- designated areas identified where compulsory purchase powers can be used to buy land required for the project to proceed.
Further key decisions affecting the future of the project will come from theDepartment for Transport, which is due to consider the TWA applicationand a series of associated legal orders in the next few months.
Due to the size and importance of the project, it is almost inevitable that there will be a public inquiry. If everything is approved, the new bridge isexpected to be open in 2014.