£22million Cheltenham transport scheme and £220 million M5 J10 upgrade set for go ahead

Photo shows: location for Cheltenham Cyber Park
Cyber Park

Subject to Cabinet approval, Gloucestershire County Council will begin the search for a highways contractor to deliver £22 million in transport improvements, that are vital to support the UK Cyber Business Park, West Cheltenham.

The county council is a key partner in the Cyber Business Park plan which includes 45 hectares of much-needed employment land, and focuses on new highly skilled cyber jobs.

Sustainable highways schemes play a vital part in supporting the project. The four phases of the transport scheme have an estimated total value of £22million.

£13.7million will be initially allocated by the county council to carry out phases one and two.

The funding for the scheme is coming from the Gloucestershire First Local Enterprise Partnership (GFirst LEP) Growth Deal and is subject to its approval of a full business case later this year.

Gloucestershire County Council was asked to take the scheme on from Cheltenham Borough Council following a GFirst LEP board meeting last year, thanks to the council’s proven track record of successfully delivering major transport projects.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Cheltenham is a key driver for the future economic prosperity of Gloucestershire and the wider South West region. This is a serious investment into guaranteeing the prosperity of Cheltenham and our county into the future. These ambitious improvement schemes will help tackle existing congestion, reduce our transport emissions and improve facilities for sustainable transport such as cycling, buses and walking.

“Improving the infrastructure to support the Cheltenham Cyber Business Park is really important for the local economy and with cabinet approval, we can take a significant step towards delivering this much needed project.”

David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, said: “Cheltenham is internationally recognised as the ‘cradle of cyber innovation for the UK’. Our investment of £22million is the largest of all our project investments and will fund the necessary road infrastructure to deliver this ambitious project. The cyber-tech sector is almost certainly the one with the most potential for our county and features prominently in our draft Local Industrial Strategy.”

Gloucestershire County Council is also set to increase its highways budget by £220million in the next step to prepare for delivery of a new J10 on the M5.

In March this year the council submitted a multi-million pound bid to Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) and the result is expected later this year.

The council needs to hit the ground running with this project, as to meet the funding conditions, and with a challenging delivery programme, the council must be ready to move quickly should the funding bid prove successful.

The funding would provide a new all-movements junction giving access from the motorway both northbound and southbound into Cheltenham. This would support areas identified for housing north and west of Cheltenham by district councils, as well as employment land to boost economic growth and provide more jobs. A new junction would also help improve the local road network for the benefit of the entire county.

The new junction would mean that those travelling south from north west Cheltenham would be able to join the motorway without travelling across the town to junction 11; reducing congestion, and improving journey times. The town’s environment would also receive a boost as traffic would be reduced on unsuitable urban roads.

To deliver this hugely significant £220million scheme, a dedicated project management team that works solely on the project will be needed. The staff costs for the new project team would be included as part of the £220million bid.

If the HIF bid is successful, a public consultation will commence in Spring 2020 with an exact location for the new motorway junction being announced in Summer 2020. The upgraded junction is anticipated to be open in Spring 2024.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “The upgrade to junction 10 would be the largest and most ambitious road infrastructure project the county council has ever taken on, so having a dedicated project team to deliver the scheme is vital for its success.

“The new junction and link road would support growth plans throughout the county, as well as solve long standing traffic and travel issues. Allowing traffic to join and exit in both directions will make life easier for road users, local people and businesses. With cabinet approval, we will be another step closer in making the upgraded junction a reality to keep Gloucestershire moving.”