Warwickshire County Council’s Avon Mill/Hunters Lane road improvement scheme has been included in a priority list for government funding by Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect, with a funding request for £17 million to deliver it.
The scheme is amongst 11 in the Midlands submitted to the Department for Transport, as part of a £3.5 billion fund available from 2020-2025.
The A426/A4071 Avon Mill/Hunters Lane scheme addresses congestion north of Rugby town centre, and includes plans to enlarge Avon Mill roundabout, widen all the entries to the roundabout to three lanes, improve the exits on the A426 and A4071 Newbold Road, replace Hunters Lane junction with a roundabout, and connect it to Avon Mill with a short dual carriageway, including a new River Avon bridge.
The plans will support Rugby Borough Council’s Local Plan to create 12,400 new homes, develop 110 hectares of employment land and 8,000m2 of retail space by 2031. Without these road improvements there’s a concern that the A426/A4071 corridor won’t be able to cope with the extra traffic and a risk that developments won’t be granted planning permission. The scheme also encourages more cycling and walking with a new segregated foot and cycleway and a bridge parallel to the existing River Avon bridge.
Midlands Connect was empowered by the Department for Transport (DfT) to work with the 22 councils in its partnership to identify priority schemes to improve local roads in the region. The fund covers upgrades to the Major Road Network (MRN), a new category of the busiest and most economically important local authority ‘A’ roads, and “Large Local Majors” (LLM) schemes, which focus on bigger upgrades to local roads.
The MRN was established by the government to focus on funding schemes that will reduce congestion, support housing and employment growth, encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport, and provide better links to motorways and major trunk roads.
Following detailed consultation and a rigorous assessment, Midlands Connect has submitted 11 schemes to the DfT for consideration, in the West Midlands and East Midlands.
The total cost of the scheme is estimated at £22 million, of which Warwickshire County Council and developer contributions would total approximately £5 million. If successful, the council would deliver the physical infrastructure required.
The total Midlands-wide funding request to the government is £596 million, with an additional £143 million to be funded locally.
Details of the Avon Mill scheme are as follows.
- A426/A4071 Avon Mill/Hunters Lane improvements in Rugby included in “Major Road Network” priority list for government funding;
- Plans include enlarging Avon Mill roundabout, replacing Hunters Lane junction with a roundabout and a new River Avon bridge;
- Scheme chosen specifically to cut congestion, improve access to new jobs and homes, and improve access for pedestrians and cyclists;
- Scheme could be completed by 2025 if funding is secured.
Simon Statham, Midlands Connect’s head of technical programmes, said:
“Rugby has ambitious growth plans but to create jobs and build new homes the town needs a reliable road network. Warwickshire County Council provided compelling evidence that this scheme will help create new jobs and homes, ease congestion for road users and encourage more walking and cycling by targeting improvements at one of the busiest congestion pinch points in the area.
“We are confident that we have provided all of the evidence the government needs to fund all 11 of our priority schemes in full, and we expect to be celebrating a £600 million investment in to the region to help our local authority partners get on and deliver this transformational programme of upgrades.”
Cllr Jeff Clarke, portfolio holder for transport and planning at Warwickshire County Council said:
“I am delighted to see that the proposed improvements at Avon Mill/Hunters Lane in Rugby – which will benefit all road users – have been included in Midlands Connect’s priority schemes for MRN investment, given the scheme’s key role in supporting the major economic growth aspirations of the town.
“We look forward to working with Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport to develop the Full Business Case for the scheme and hope to see it implemented as soon as possible.”
Midlands Connect is encouraging the government to allocate funding for shortlisted schemes as soon as possible to ensure their smooth delivery.