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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Proposals for southern Carlisle bypass drawn up

Proposals are being drawn up for a southern bypass that could give Carlisle a complete ring road around the city.

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Mike Mitchelson: We’ll be focusing on economy

City council leader Mike Mitchelson says a link between M6 junction 42 at the Golden Fleece to the A595 at Newby West would complement the M6 and recently-opened Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR).

His draft route heads southwest from junction 42, skirting south of Durdar, then northwest across the River Caldew and the Cumbrian coastal railway to the start of the CNDR.

Mr Mitchelson said: “We need to start planning now. It has taken 27 years to get the CNDR open so we need be thinking now about how we get the next one.”

Roads are the responsibility of Cumbria County Council. But Mr Mitchelson believes the city council holds the key to a southern relief in its role as planning authority.

The community infrastructure levy, introduced in April 2010, allows local authorities to raise funds from developers when they grant planning permission.

This money must be used to pay for infrastructure projects needed as a result of development such as roads, flood defences, schools, hospitals and leisure centres.

The Conservative council leader said: “We have an aspiration for Carlisle to grow, for a business park at junction 42 and for residential development to the south of the city.

“As these schemes come forward, we can require developer contributions.”

There is, as yet, no estimate for what a southern relief road would cost.

And Mr Mitchelson believes it will be 10-to-20 years before it opens.

He will get an early opportunity to put the case for it when Roads Minister Mike Penning MP visits Carlisle on Wednesday. Mr Penning is due to inspect the CNDR, which links the A595 with M6 junction 44 at Kingstown.

Proposals for a southern relief road were first put forward 60 years ago by the then city engineer, Leslie Stowe.

The first section, Eastern Way, was built in the 1960s but plans to extend the road west across the River Caldew to Dalston Road and Wigton Road were scrapped in the late Seventies.

The late Allan Dickinson, the first manager of the city’s Pirelli factory, said the company chose to come to Dalston Road only because it was promised that a relief road would be built.

He believed that a southern relief road would do far more than the CNDR to ease Carlisle’s traffic congestion problems because it would provide another crossing of the River Caldew. At present, east-west traffic is sucked into the city centre to cross the Caldew at Bridge Street or Nelson Bridge.

Writing to the city council’s then environment director, Mike Battersby, in November 2000, Mr Dickinson said: “The outer ring road provides the vital and now very urgent third River Caldew crossing at the correct location.”

A new £9m-£10m plan to revamp Carlisle’s Sands Centre is being drawn up – 16 months after an earlier scheme was put on ice.

City council leader Mike Mitchelson is in talks with Carlisle Leisure about building a 25-metre swimming pool and a dedicated sports hall, freeing up the main hall as a full-time events venue.

The pool would replace The Pools in James Street, which could be demolished to make way for a transport interchange serving the Citadel railway station.

Mr Mitchelson said: “If we keep The Pools we’d have to spend £2m to bring it up to standard but we would still have what is essentially a dated facility. In my view it is far better to use that money for a new pool at The Sands and that’s what we are working towards with Carlisle Leisure.”

Financial pressures forced the council to shelve a £15m revamp of The Sands in November 2010. The proposal included a ‘school of sport’ for the University of Cumbria. Mr Mitchelson said the university was no longer able to proceed with this.

The revised plans would cost £9m-£10m funded by the council and Carlisle Leisure, the not-for-profit company that runs leisure facilities in Carlisle and Allerdale.

Mr Mitchelson said: “The council won’t be funding the whole scheme. Carlisle Leisure will be a funding partner.

Original proposals included:

  • A 25-metre, 11-lane swimming pool to competition standard, up to 1.8 metres deep, with seating for 500 spectators, a boom to sub-divide it and a variable-depth floor along one side;
  • An 8,600sq ft sports hall big enough for four badminton courts, a basketball court or five-a-side football pitch, with galleries for spectators;
  • A revamped 2,000-capacity events hall with minor acoustic improvements and a refurbished foyer and restaurant.

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