Northampton

A5 Towcester relief road plan submitted to council

Towcester Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The A5 runs through the centre of Towcester and is often congested

A plan has been submitted to bypass a town that has one of Britain's ancient highways running through its centre.

The Towcester relief road would bypass the town, which has the A5, or Watling Street, running through it.

The scheme, partly funded by developers, could be completed next year if plans are approved.

Roger Clarke, who represents the area on South Northamptonshire Council, said the road would allow Towcester to get "back to its former glory".

Parts of the A5 follow the route of Watling Street - the first road to be paved in Roman Britain after the invasion in AD43, which ran between Richborough in Kent and Chester, via London.

Parts of Watling Street had been a grassy track used by the Ancient Britons before then.

'Blessed with heritage'

Conservative Mr Clarke said the bypass would "encourage shops to be occupied" in the town centre.

The proposals are attached to a planning application for a development of more than 1,000 homes to the south of Towcester.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The A5 is used as alternative to the M1 and runs from London to Holyhead through Towcester and Milton Keynes

The relief road would run along the western side of the town to connect to the A43, which rejoins the A5 to the north.

It could cost up to £38m.

A bypass was first suggested in 1989, with further plans from Northamptonshire County Council made in 2012 and 2014.

Towcester was also designated an air quality management area due town centre pollution, blamed on vehicle fumes.

The action plan drawn up in 2008 said a bypass would be the "long-term solution to poor air quality and congestion".

Mr Clarke said the delay was partly because the area was "blessed with a lot of heritage and we are so keen on protecting it".

The South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom has said there was a "desperate need" for the road.

The planning application is due to be heard by South Northamptonshire Council's planning committee on 6 February.

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