Extra funding needed to develop congestion-busting scheme at Cooper Bridge

Designers behind the “ambitious and transformational” bypass for traffic-clogged Cooper Bridge are to seek extra money to develop their plans.

The “change request” will go to transport chiefs at West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) – a group of leading councillors and officers from West Yorkshire councils, plus York, that works on major infrastructure projects – on September 3.

It follows a report by the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the £69.2m new relief road and viaduct planned for the area around the Cooper Bridge roundabout, which serves Huddersfield, Mirfield and Brighouse, will be “more modest” than originally intended.

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In the case of projects where design changes are being considered, the alterations mean delivery of schemes is likely to be delayed.

Kate Thompson, Head of Economic Implementation and Enterprise Zone SRO at WYCA, said Kirklees Council was “appraising the scheme options” and that it had submitted a change request for additional funding to support project development costs.

The money, if granted on September 3, would develop the council’s business case and extend the submission date for plans to March 2020.

She commented: “The Combined Authority are keen that the scheme stays within the approved indicative funding allocation of £69.2m.

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“The Combined Authority will also wish to ensure that the scheme delivers the agreed outputs and benefits associated with this scheme.”

The project, formally known as the A62/A644 (Wakefield Road) Link Road scheme, was unveiled in December 2018.

It was envisaged to begin construction in 2021 with completion set for 2023.

The route of the new link is designed to begin at Colne Bridge Road and cross Bradley Road close to the White Cross pub.

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As originally presented it would lead to a new roundabout near to Bradley Park landfill site to join the A644 Wakefield Road by means of a 450m-long viaduct traversing the railway, the Calder and Hebble Canal, and the River Calder.

The plan would also affect around 50 landowners – including householders and businesses – and involve the purchase and demolition of some homes.

Kirklees Council said nine of the affected sites involved actual properties. The rest were plots of undeveloped land.

However a senior figure on the council said “a massive gyratory” as originally planned was “no longer going to happen”.

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Instead Deputy Leader of Kirklees Council, Clr Peter McBride, said a new gyratory would be relatively modest.

And the road itself would go “all the way through” to Junction 25 of the M62, with some of its route “on stilts”.

He said delivery could take as long as seven years.

Keith Bloomfield, programme manager for the West Yorkshire Transport Fund (for Kirklees Council), which is providing the money for the project, said the council was continuing to appraise three options that were put out to public consultation last year.

He added: “Given the significance of the scheme for [the] local area it is important we take time to ensure that the right scheme is delivered and consider the feedback of the local community.”

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He said the five- to seven-year time-frame represented “the very worst case”.

Funding for several major schemes in Calderdale are also expected to be recommended for approval by WYCA on September 3.

Among them are Clifton Business Park, for which £3.15 million towards the £31.1m scheme is being recommended for approval; the revamp of roads within Halifax town centre and £200,000 towards the estimated £15.4m redevelopment of Halifax Bus Station.