TRANSPORT chiefs have been warned against upgrading the A1 “on the cheap” after it emerged the new scheme could differ from the plans axed in 2010.
Officials have confirmed that the proposed improvements would need to go through the planning process again – despite the Government only cancelling plans to upgrade the 12-mile stretch in North Yorkshire two years ago.
The prospect of fresh plans and a further consultation process opens the door to potential changes to the previous scheme, which was the subject of a threeweek planning inquiry.
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The main features of the project will remain the same, with the current dual carriageway upgraded to three-lane motorway between Leeming Bar and Barton.
A new junction will be built near Catterick Village, while the junction at Scotch Corner will be improved.
However, the Department for Transport was unable to confirm details on features such as local access roads and pedestrian crossings.
A local access road between Leeming and Catterick Village was only added to the previous plans at the public inquiry stage, while an access road between Scotch Corner and Barton was added afterwards at the recommendation of planning inspector Christopher Tipping.
Councillor Michael Heseltine urged the Department for Transport against cutting costs by removing previously agreed features.
He added: “It’s got to be a full belt and braces job – a motorway without local access roads isn’t a proper motorway.”
Coun Heseltine said he had been inundated with residents and businesses inquiring about the upgrade since the £314m scheme was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last Wednesday.
“There are many questions being asked – will they resurrect the old scheme or will they go for a new scheme? If they go for the old scheme, how much will it be amended? The quicker this gets going the better.”
Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said he was delighted the upgrade had been approved.
However, he added: “I would urge them to retain the access road between Scotch Corner and Barton. You only need to see the amount of traffic using the new access road at Leeming Bar to see the importance.”
Work is due to start on the upgrade in 2013-14 and take three years.