Funding plans for the £18million Hartlepool Western Growth Corridor which will offer a new link road into the town and aid the building of 1,500 new homes have been given the green light.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said the move was ‘one of the most key decisions’ the finance and policy committee has had to make.
The project consists of the development of a bypass for the village of Elwick and a bridge over the dual-carriageway at the current Elwick North junction to the A19.
It will also assist in the building of around 1,500 new homes to the west of Hartlepool, as set out in the town’s local plan.
Tees Valley Combined Authority has granted £4.172million of funding towards the project, while the council is in advanced discussion to secure a further £4.173million from Homes England to support the scheme.
The council’s finance and policy committee has now approved for the remaining £10.161million to be funded from council borrowing which will be repaid by contributions from developers looking to build new homes as part of the plan over a seven to 10 year period.
Councillors unanimously approved plans to move forward with the development citing benefits for safety, economy and infrastructure.
Coun Ann Marshall said: “I really welcome this development, you do take your life in your own hands sometimes at that junction.
“Sometimes you can tell the speed of the cars as you’re coming on but sometimes you can’t.
“I’m delighted that we’re going to do this.”
Coun Mike Young said: “The work on this is absolutely tremendous, officers have worked really hard on this really positive scheme.
“There are still some debates to be had but on the whole it’s a tremendous piece of work and I’m pleased how forward thinking officers have been to put this forward and get this through.”
Coun Kevin Cranney said: “£8million is a significant saving for the development, I’m really, really pleased where we are with this project.
“We can also use it to look at options for business growth in the area.”
Coun Akers-Belcher, who worked with the combined authority to help secure the funding, emphasised the importance of the plans.
He said: “This is probably one of the most important key budget decisions we have had to make on this council.
“It was a big ask to the council to borrow £18million so it is great news we have brought that down to £10million with the help of the combined authority, it is a scheme which will help the growth of Hartlepool.
“Hartlepool has the fastest growth in the Tees Valley for housing and this should help alleviate some of the pressure on the roads.
“Safety is paramount and this should make Hartlepool a safer place as well.”
Council officers are in the process of meeting with the land agents to acquire the remaining land for the plan, but said if negotiations fail they will look for a Compulsory Purchase Order.
A draft final design has been drawn up for the new Elwick bypass junction and a planning application is expected to be submitted in early 2019.
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service