At the crossroads

Date: Monday 16th April 2018

EDEN Council leader Kevin Beaty leaves little doubt in the minds of district residents of his vehement opposition to the prospect of a flyover being built at Kemplay roundabout, on the outskirts of Penrith, as part of mooted improvements to the A66. Such a structure would be a “carbuncle at the gateway to the Lake District”, states Mr Beaty, and a “truly brutal measure”.

There are, as yet, no firm plans on the table from Highways England — the body responsible for the country’s major roads — but a flyover has been put forward as one of the options in briefing meetings with landowners, housing developers and other stakeholders.

The building of a flyover would deal a severe blow to Mr Beaty’s preferred option of a new relief road to the east of Penrith, going behind the Beacon and linking the A66 with Stoneybeck roundabout. This is a vital part of Eden Council’s vision of how Penrith should develop in the future, as the new road would give access to additional housing sites and a potentially huge area for leisure use.

Yet such a road could also be described as a “carbuncle”, in that it will replace green fields with concrete and, if the proposed route affects any protected wildlife species or habitat, its construction could be delayed by lengthy public inquiries.

There are, however, merits in both scenarios. A flyover at Kemplay would go some way to alleviate the logjam of traffic that frustrates motorists in Penrith on busy weekends, and would take less time to put in place. A relief road would certainly open up more land for development and reduce congestion from traffic heading for the north of the town, but it could be many years in the making.

Whatever the future holds, it is vital that residents are fully consulted over such a momentous decision and important that bridges are not burned between the main players in the meantime.