Motorway junction improvement will lead to traffic benefits

The secretary of state for transport accepted the recommendation of an examining authority and granted a development consent order for the alteration of a junction on the M1 motorway in Bedfordshire, deciding that it would result in significant traffic benefits.

The proposal entailed the grade separation of Junction 10a on the south side of Luton, including the removal of the existing roundabout, the widening of a spur road and a road leading to Luton airport, and the construction of new slip roads and roundabouts. The objective of the scheme was to allow traffic to flow without interruption to the airport and to residential, commercial and industrial areas to the south of Luton.

The secretary of state agreed with the examining authority that, at the national level, the NPPF offered broad support for a scheme of this nature in that it would promote economic growth, relieve congestion and ensure the vitality of Luton town centre. He further agreed that, since the scheme was local transport infrastructure and must be located at and around the existing junction which lay in the green belt, it would not be inappropriate development.

He agreed also that the scheme would accord with the green belt’s original purpose of urban containment. He noted that during the evolution of the scheme there had been extensive and repeated consultations with stakeholders on how to meet the need for additional capacity at Junction 10a but decided that none of the proposed alternatives or modifications to the scheme should be pursued. He noted the examining authority’s finding that there were substantial employment sites in the area whose potential were likely to be delayed or frustrated by the lack of capacity in Junction 10a.

He therefore agreed that by contributing to improved accessibility to Luton and the strategic road network, the scheme would support economic growth opportunities and sustain regeneration through new development.

The secretary of state concluded that there was a compelling case for authorising the grade separation of the junction. He considered in particular that relieving congestion and providing additional highway capacity in the vicinity of the junction would provide significant benefits. While recognising that the scheme would have a number of limited adverse environmental impacts, taking into account the mitigation measures that would be secured by the order, he did not consider that any of those impacts would be unacceptable.

Examining Authority Alan Gray; Hearing

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