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North Somerset Council finds additional £12m for Banwell bypass

Ballooning construction costs have forced North Somerset Council to dig out another £11.9m to keep its Banwell bypass project on the rails but it is still short.

Computer generated image of the planned bypassThe 3.3km Banwell bypass, first proposed in 1927, is backed by a £97m grant from Homes England to promote house-building in the village. That is no longer enough to cover the planning, design, land acquisition, construction and other costs.

When Alun Griffiths was appointed main contractor in 2021, construction costs were put at £66m. They are now estimated at £90m.

A meeting of North Somerset Council yesterday unanimously agreed to put another £11.9m to the project – roughly half of the shortfall.

While the project already has planning permission, a public inquiry is taking place this week and next into the compulsory purchase orders. The outcome of the inquiry will be decided by the secretary of state for transport within the next few months.

The additional council contribution will come from community infrastructure levy, Section 106 monies and reallocated capital reserves. It also hopes that Homes England can be persuaded to dig a little deeper and that Alun Griffiths can do something clever to shave its costs.

Council leader Mike Bell said: “Banwell bypass is a landmark project for us, one that will cut congestion through Banwell, making it a safer, cleaner place, as well as delivering a range of other local improvements such as miles of new walking, cycling and horse-riding routes.

“In agreeing additional funding, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to delivering the project and the benefits it is set to bring to North Somerset. For every pound we spend, the completed scheme is expected to return £2.27 in value, making it a vital component in unlocking regional growth for our communities.

“We are continuing positive conversations with Homes England and are seeking further financial contribution from them, as well as working with contractors to ensure we are getting the best value for money before we begin construction.”

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