Fate of Lincoln Eastern Bypass remains unclear as second public inquiry ends

The second public inquiry into the proposed Lincoln Eastern Bypass (LEB) has come to a close, with the county council and objectors to the scheme both standing firm following two weeks of evidence.

The inquiry has seen Department for Transport officials consider the cases for and against Compulsory Purchase (CPO) and Side Roads Orders that are needed for work on the bypass to proceed.

A decision from the inspector is expected later this year, from October to December.

If the project is given the green light, work is likely to commence in the middle of 2016, with the bypass taking a further three years to complete.

The road would run from the roundabout at Wragby Road to a new roundabout at Sleaford Road on the A15.

Planning permission for the scheme was given by Lincolnshire County Council back in June 2013 but the DfT put the project on hold after concerns were raised about a junction connecting Hawthorn Road to a footbridge spanning the bypass.

County Councillor Richard Davies is in charge of highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

County Councillor Richard Davies is in charge of highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Speaking after the closure of the inquiry at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Lincoln, Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transportation, said that he was happy that the county council had presented its case “robustly, fairly and honestly.”

He said: “We’ve had an opportunity to dispel all the myths around the safety of the scheme and address the important issues in front of the inspector, which is the Side Roads Order and the CPO.

“In terms of Hawthorn Road, we don’t take decisions to close roads lightly but we’ve got to look at the bigger picture and weigh the greater good against minor inconvenience to some people.

“There is no money to build a dual carriageway and people in Lincoln agree that we should build what we can now, rather than wait because this is a problem we have today. Originally, we wanted to build a dual carriageway but the government and MPs stopped that from happening.

“I’ll be happy with the inquiry if we get the result we need in order to start building this road. If for whatever reason this does not happen, then it’s back to the drawing board and potentially we won’t build the road.”

The revised design for the Hawthorn Road bridge over the Lincoln Eastern Bypass. Image: LCC

The revised design for the Hawthorn Road bridge over the Lincoln Eastern Bypass. Image: LCC

The planning process has proved controversial with many residents campaigning against the planned closure of Hawthorn Road.

The bypass has also generated keen discussions from parish councils neighbouring the proposed bypass, with members of Cherry Willingham Parish Council describing the footbridge as “unsafe” at the inquiry.