Boost for council in £80m bid for Banwell bypass and M5 Junction 21A

Plans for a Banwell bypass and M5 Junction 21A (J21A) are edging closer after a bid for tens of millions of pounds was advanced to the next stage of the process by the Government.

North Somerset Council this week learned its application to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) for £80million to ‘enable transport infrastructure’ in the M5-A38 corridor has passed the first stage of the bid process.

If the council’s bid is successful, the cash will help pay for a long-called-for Banwell bypass and J21A – as North Somerset prepares itself for significant population growth and housing development.

J21A and the bypass have been included in the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP), which aims to satisfy the West Country’s housing shortfall over the next two decades – with North Somerset earmarked for tens of thousands of homes, including new villages near Banwell and Churchill.

Public consultation on the JSP concluded in January, and the plan is due to be reviewed by the Government later this year.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “We see this housing package as the dividend for committing to the housing targets in the JSP and delivering our commitment to local communities to deliver improved infrastructure along with new housing.”

The council launched its HIF bid in September with an expression of interest for up to £100million.

The Government revealed this week the council had progressed to the next phase of the two-stage bid process, and it could receive up to £80million.

North Somerset must now convince the Government to support its bid with a business case which must be submitted in the coming weeks, and a verdict will be delivered in the summer.

Securing the funding and solving road infrastructure issues which date back decades would be a major coup for the council, but Weston MP John Penrose is unhappy with the shape of JSP – although he would welcome the delivery of a bypass.

He said: “It’s great to see Government cash to speed up planning bureaucracy.

“But the cash will only help if we build the right homes in the right places.

“That means we should build up, not out in places like central Weston, where extra investment is vital and building modern versions of four-storey terraces and townhouses will look great.

“We should not be concreting over green fields, creating urban sprawl around rural villages like Churchill and Congresbury.”

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