Delays for M27 improvement project could cost £83,000 a day
DELAYS to a multi-million pound motorway scheme are adding £83,000 a day to a bill that has already more than doubled in cost to £65m.
Further delays to planned works at Junction 10 of the M27 will cost more than £2.5m a month.
The upgrade will provide much-needed road infrastructure improvements for the 6,000 homes at new town Welborne.
But the proposal has been reviewed by county council chiefs after the cost soared from a £30 million estimate in 2017.
Hampshire County Council member for transport Councillor Rob Humby insisted the scheme must continue.
But the authority has warned the plans must not snarl up work being carried out to convert the M27 to a smart motorway.
Cllr Humby said: ‘We’ve achieved what we set out to do at this stage of the project, but we are now at a point where we can’t go any further without progress from our partners around planning permissions and funding agreements.’
Fareham Borough Council leader, Cllr Sean Woodward, said the delays are down to Welborne developers Buckland not submitting an appropriate proposal for the 6,000-home village and motorway plan.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘They entered a planning application last year that was not suitable and it has taken a year to sort all the issues out and now the planners have the updated one which is nearly as many documents as the original that can start to progress.
‘However the grant money has to be used by March 2021 otherwise it is gone and each month it is delayed that is £2.5m more.’
Details have not been given of the reasons behind the rising costs.
Welborne planners Buckland hope work will start on Junction 10 later this year.
John Beresford, managing director at Buckland, said the firm had been taking part in regular meetings of a junction 10 steering group and has ‘continued to maintain a fully open dialogue and collaborative approach to working with all parties’.
In a statement, Mr Beresford added: ‘On the basis that all parties seek to work together, we look forward to seeing a new junction built within the best possible time frame to support Welborne.’
He said an updated plan for the all-directions junction on the motorway ‘followed extensive consultation with various authorities and our continued engagement with Fareham Borough Council’.
Solent LEP obtained a £1.65m government loan for the county council to help develop a business case and design work – and insisted more cash could be obtained if needed.
An LEP spokesman added: ‘It is hoped that this support will help local partners to bring forward the scheme to the next stage of development.
‘We are engaging with all partners involved in the project and we look forward to considering the business case when local partners are in a position to submit this to us.’
A spokesman for Highways England said: ‘Highways England is delivering the biggest roads investment for a generation, and is starting work on four multi-million pound upgrades for the Solent before 2021.
‘We remain ready to work with the team behind the Welborne development to agree what improvements to junction 10 of the M27 would be needed to help realise their plans.’