Former coalfield areas of Northumberland are set for a multimillion-pound economic boost once the planned new Morpeth northern bypass opens, according to new figures.
Forecasts suggest the county’s economy overall could benefit by nearly £50million over the next few decades after the new stretch of road opens in just over 18 months’ time.
Earlier this month, the Secretary of State for Transport approved the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the £30million scheme, finalising all the necessary consents for the bypass, such as planning approval, compulsory purchase and traffic orders. Construction is due to start in the spring of 2015 and will take around 18 months to complete.
Based on long-term central growth figures over the next 60 years (the standard period for assessment), there is a forecasted £47million-worth of total economic benefit for the county – £7million for Castle Morpeth, £23million for Wansbeck and £17million for Blyth Valley.
Creation of the bypass, also known as the South East Northumberland Link Road, has the potential to trigger the creation of more than 5,300 jobs across south-east Northumberland and between 1,700 and 3,000 jobs in Morpeth. It will also open up large areas north of Morpeth for development of housing and employment land.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “As it stands people living and working in some of the rural former coalfield communities are relatively isolated in terms of road infrastructure and easy access to the main trunk routes. The planned bypass will not only benefit the wider region, but those who live and work in this part of the county.
“One of the key advantages is it will reduce travel time and costs between the A1 and south-east Northumberland. Our studies show, for example, that businesses in Wansbeck Business Park will save around 37 per cent in travel costs to the A1 by using the new bypass.
“This will also have knock-on effects for areas such as Cramlington by cutting traffic congestion at pinch points like the Moor Farm roundabout. While the new bypass will have some immediate advantages for residents and road users, the long-term benefits should provide an economic boost for many years to come.”
The Morpeth Northern Bypass will be built to the north of Morpeth, running from Whorral Bank roundabout to the A1 trunk road between Fairmoor and Lancaster Park.