It has been a quiet couple of months on the planning front with just a few routine applications for extensions to homes in the parish. However parish councillors keep getting asked ‘what is happening about the proposed bypass?’ So here is an update.
Herefordshire Council last considered the matter in public in July when the ‘red route’ was chosen from a shortlist of seven as a preferred route and more money was allocated for further investigations. Since then there have been drilling rigs on both sides of the river, especially in the meadows between Hereford and Warham. These will have been investigating the geology where the supports for the proposed bridge over the River Wye would go. There are now similar holes being dug in the fields near Warham Farm.
What happens next? Well the timing is up to Herefordshire Council, but there are only three months before the next Herefordshire Council elections in May. There are quite a lot of stages to go through. Finance for the road has to be secured. The Council has been seeking money for the bypass from national housing and road funds. Even with the significant number of houses planned for Hereford in the next twelve years – including 1200 at Three Elms – there is not enough money available locally for the estimated £150m+ cost of the scheme.
We have just heard that there will be a Herford Transport Package consultation running from January 29th to 11th March. This is advertised as being about walking, cycling and public space. It remains to be seen just how much information there will be about the bypass. We assume that the bypass will have its own consultation later in 2019 as outlined in the next paragraph.
In the next few months more detailed reports on the ‘red route’ will be completed and assuming they are judged favourable then the red route could be confirmed by the Council. Once this happens there will need to be a further, statutory public consultation and the results assessed. After that Herefordshire Council will have to apply for planning permission. Then there will almost certainly be a Public Inquiry. There has never actually been an inquiry into these particular bypass proposals. The Core Strategy (Herefordshire’s Local Plan) examination in public in 2015 did not look at the bypass proposals in detail and neither did the recent Inquiry into the Southern Link Road. This, ‘first stage of the bypass’ is planned to run between the A49 Ross road and the Abergavenny Road at Belmont Abbey. The Inquiry only examined the compulsory purchase of the land the road requires. The Inspector’s report on this is anticipated by Easter. A similar compulsory purchase order Inquiry could also be necessary here in future if all of the stages for the proposed western bypass through Breinton outlined above are eventually completed and local landowners cannot agree terms with Herefordshire Council for their land.
So there are still a lot of stages to go through and, I am afraid, a lot more uncertainty to come through 2019 and beyond. The Parish Council will do it’s very best to keep you informed.