Decision will be made on new £100m bypass after public have a say
Public opinion could have huge bearing on whether a new £100m link road around three towns will be built.
People across the district will be asked for their thoughts on the prospect of a £100m bypass south of Featherstone, which would potentially ease congestion around the town, as well as around Ackworth and Pontefract.
It is estimated that the building of this road could create 2,000 jobs focused around the towns between Featherstone and Leeds.
It would also pave the way for creating an additional 1,500 new homes.
But the council has indicated it will not build the road if a consultation produces an overwhelmingly negative response.
Concerns about carbon emissions and the cost of the project have been expressed and the local authority has stressed they have not committed themselves to the idea.
The council has signed off money to fund the consultation, which will last between six and 12 months.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, portfolio holder for transport Matthew Morley said: “I don’t want to get people’s aspirations up. This is just looking at how feasible the road will be. All this is money for a consultation.
“We will listen to what people have to say on it, but we’re not committing ourselves at this stage.
“There’s no point in doing it if people don’t want it.” In response, new council leader Denise Jeffery said: “I think that’s the right thing to do.
“There are issues with climate change and we have declared an emergency. I think if we do the consultation, then we’ll have a final decision to make on whether or not to go ahead with it.”
The council said the economic and social impact was expected to be similar to that created by the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road and East Leeds Orbital Route.
It was confirmed as part of this week’s decision that an outline business case (OBC) will be made.
The public consultation is expected to take place in September 2020 with the OBC completed by September 2021. The first stage of the project, costing £284,000, to produce the first study – the strategic business case – was financed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
The road is currently estimated to take about six years to be completed.