Editor's pick: Motorway link road found to meet public interest

The secretary of state for transport has granted development consent for 2.9 kilometres of highway in Bedfordshire linking Dunstable and a planned new junction 11a on the M1 motorway.

The Woodside Link is planned provide a more direct route for traffic between an industrial estate and the primary road network, avoiding the centres of Dunstable and Houghton Regis. It would also serve an urban extension to Houghton Regis comprising substantial housing development with business and retail elements.

The secretary of state agreed with the examining authority’s conclusion that the project met the criteria for good design in the draft national networks national policy statement and that none of its landscape or visual effects would be so significant or adverse as to provide a basis for refusing the application.

He also agreed that, on balance, the potential benefits were likely to outweigh disbenefits that might be experienced by residents living close to the end of an existing road. In this respect, he considered that the increase in traffic noise needed to be understood in its proper context.

The examiner had explained that the link's specific effects should be assessed against the backdrop of overall growth in traffic across the wider strategic and local road network, much of this being related to the effects of traffic growth on the M1. The secretary of state agreed that the link made economic sense by providing a greatly improved connection between the industrial estate and the motorway network.

He concluded overall that the project was in broad conformity with relevant adopted national and local planning and transport policies and that its socio-economic benefits were substantial and clear. While he recognised that there would be some negative environmental impacts, he agreed that none were sufficient to justify refusing development consent.

Examiner: Glyn Roberts; Hearings

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