£15bn roads package includes garden cities connectivity cash

The government has earmarked a slice of its £15 billion roads improvement package to help provide infrastructure for new garden cities, it has emerged.

Motorways: upgrade plan announced
Motorways: upgrade plan announced

Details of the plan include a £100 million "growth and housing fund" specifically designed to support connectivity for enterprise zones and new residential development, including potential future garden cities.

Much of today’s Road Investment Strategy announcement was previewed by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry last month, when he pledged funding for more than 100 projects by the end of the next Parliament.

Projects include a road tunnel for the A303 at Stonehenge, major improvements to the A27 on the south coast, and extending the dual carriageway section of the A1 north to Ellingham in Northumberland, all of which are aimed at easing congestion.

The package’s "growth and housing" fund earmarks "upgraded junctions, improvements around towns and cities, and enabling works for potential garden cities".

The provision of a new junction on the A14 at Kettering, in Northamptonshire, is cited as one example of a project designed to "directly benefit housing development", as are upgrades to Junction 10 of the M27, at Fareham in Hampshire.

Enterprise zone road improvements include the M53 around Ellesmere Port, a new junction on the M49 to provide strategic access to the Avonmouth Severnside Enterprise Area, and improvements on the A5 to support the MIRA enterprise zone.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the programme was "the biggest, boldest, and most far-reaching roads programme for decades".

"It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential," he said.

However, Labour's shadow transport secretary Michael Duger said the programme was "yet another re-announcement" of previously pledged funding.

"The government has ‘announced’ plans for road investment at least three times since 2013," he said.

David Churchill, director at consultancy Iceni Projects, said: "This latest set of announcements represents a step in the right direction but the focus here should be on delivery. Put simply, the scale of investment proposed through this £15 billion package is absolutely necessary if we are going to help regional economies in the UK to develop and the government needs to ensure that these new schemes are brought forward, rather than pushed to the wayside when money gets tight.
"There is a danger associated with considering these schemes and other major infrastructure proposals in isolation. We would like to see the creation of a national strategic plan that considers projects like these in the context of a 20 year delivery strategy for the whole of the UK. Only through structured and accountable strategic planning can we ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to help support a sustainable and growing UK economy."

The full Road Investment Strategy document can be read here.

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