The developer of a major business park next to a £50m “dead end” motorway junction has hit out over claims it is responsible for connecting the junction to the local road network.
The majority of work on the M49 junction, near Avonmouth, was completed by Highways England in 2019 but it still cannot be used by traffic because the link road has not yet been built.
The two-bridge junction was due to connect warehouse and distribution centre Central Park, used by major companies including Tesco and Amazon, to the motorway. The park’s developer, Delta Properties, currently owns the land on which the new access is to be built.
When proposed, the junction was slated to ease congestion and have huge economic potential for the region by connecting the port of Avonmouth and the Avonmouth Severnside Enterprise Area to the M49.
Earlier this month, South Gloucestershire Council said the responsibility for building the road lay with Delta and that it was “working to influence” construction.
But Delta Properties has refuted the claim, saying it owes “no legal obligation” to any public body to construct the road infrastructure associated with the new junction.
The company said “in the spirit of moving things forward” it had spent several months finalising designs for the road – and working out how much it will cost – however.
A Delta Properties spokesperson said: “Commencement of works on site is contingent on finalising several landowner agreements with neighbouring landowners.
“[Delta] would have liked for these to have already been completed and works commenced, but these third-party approvals are still awaited. Delta Properties remains hopeful that these agreements will be completed in the not too distant future.”
According to the developer, once the agreements are complete it will start building the link road on its land. It said this would go towards “completing the jigsaw of wider connectivity”.
“It will require leadership, positive engagement and participation from both Highways England and South Gloucestershire Council to enable that to happen,” the Delta spokesperson said.
“They are both aware of what they are required to do to facilitate this and, whilst positive engagement from them has been lacking over several months, Delta Properties remains hopeful that agreements can be reached with them both, for the required infrastructure to be completed and arrangements finalised for all local infrastructure – including the private infrastructure at Central Park which Delta Properties has constructed – to be made available for wider public use.”
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They added: “Delta Properties hopes both Highways England and South Gloucestershire Council live up to their own responsibilities to enable that to happen.”
Josh Hodder, Highways England project manager for the M49 Junction scheme, said the “onus” was on the developers to design and deliver the connecting roads.
“[The link roads will] tie into the stubs we have provided, and we look forward to seeing the new junction opened to traffic once these are completed and connected to the local road network,” he said.
Highways England said it was aware developers had begun design work, with the aim of starting construction in the near future. “We welcome that and will continue to communicate with all parties as plans are progressed,” Mr Hodder added.
Meanwhile, South Gloucestershire Council said it was in contact with the landowner and major employers in the area – and was seeking to ensure the link road was constructed in a “timely manner”.
A spokesperson for the council added: “We are also arranging for access to council-owned land to be made available to enable the work to get underway as soon as possible.”
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