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Durham residents' head-to-head over bypass plan
TWO neighbouring communities are set for a head-to-head battle over multi-million pound plans to plough a new bypass through open countryside west of Durham.
Durham County Council is considering building a western relief road for Durham City under its County Durham Plan, which is aimed at transforming the county into an economic powerhouse by 2030.
Last month, Bearpark residents pledged to fight plans for the bypass, which would link the B6302 near Stonebridge to the A691 at Sniperley park-and-ride, saying it would pass too close to their village.
But now people in nearby Neville’s Cross have given the scheme the thumbs up.
The suburb is currently split by the busy A167 but would be bypassed if the new road was built.
A Focus survey of Neville’s Cross residents found 61 per cent backing for the project.
Nigel Martin, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Neville’s Cross and leader of Durham County Council’s opposition Lib Dem group said: "The consensus view was very clear that we want a western bypass.
"The traffic situation is very severe. The current A167 is getting stretched to its capacity and there has to be some way of diverting traffic so I’m in favour of a western bypass."
Responding to concerns over loss of green space, Coun Martin said the road would have less environmental impact than a previous bypass proposal dating from the late 1980s.
He said he was not surprised at the public support for the plan, given current traffic congestion at Neville’s Cross junction and on Lowe’s Barn Bank.
The County Durham Plan also includes proposals for: a northern bypass for Durham City, linking Rotary Way north of Newton Hall to the A690 east of the Belmont exit; 29,000 new homes for County Durham including 5,000 for Durham City, 3,500 of which would be on greenbelt land; and a world-class business hub at Aykley Heads, which would mean demolishing County Hall and Durham Police’s headquarters.
Council chiefs hope to published a finalised plan next summer but say they are seeking public opinion every step of the way. For more information, visit durham.gov.uk/ldf or call 0300-1237070.
In the Focus survey, which gained 294 responses, 180 residents were in favour of the western bypass, 75 were against and 39 were unsure.