Frustrated Hull business leaders to grill Highways England boss over delayed Castle Street upgrade
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 24 Aug 2017
Business leaders will be meeting with Highways England today to discuss the delayed £250m Castle Street upgrade scheme.
Hull BID, which champions city centre growth, has invited James Leeming, the Government agency's senior project manager, to address around 40 specially-invited guests at the noon meeting, which will be held at Holiday Inn on Hull Marina.
The Mail understands the aim of the meeting is to update members on the timescale for the schemeand likely disruptions, while highlighting the many benefits it will bring to the region.
Jim Harris, chairman of Hull BID, has welcomed the opportunity for businesses to quiz Mr Leeming about the scheme.
"This affects businesses across the city," he said. "The delays are very frustrating. I know this is a technically-challenging scheme, but this is what Highways England do. I think we're due some dates and assurances.
"Everything that has happened in Hull, in terms of City of Culture and the improvements to the public realm, hinges on the transport network. The A63 cuts the city in half. We've got to get this sorted. This upgrade is a crucial part in the jigsaw."
On Monday, Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy and Councillor Martin Mancey, the portfolio holder for strategic transport, had plenty to say following their meeting with Highways England, when it was announced the scheme will not be completed until 2025, with work not expected before 2020.
FRUSTRATED: Cllr Martin Mancey, pictured in Castle Street, says he is frustrated at the delays
Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: "The good news is that this scheme has not been cancelled, but there comes a time when people say that delay after delay is completely unacceptable."
Adam Lovell, development director at Pepperells Solicitors, with offices in Hull, Scunthorpe and Grimsby, will also be among the attendees and said: "Continuing delays to this scheme is frustrating.
"Ultimately, we need to understand why the delays have occurred. We will then be in a position to assist Highways England."
Mr Lovell said the upgrade to Hull's most congested street, when it happens, will be "transformational".
"Knowing this actually drives the frustration at the continued delays," he said. "Castle Street is a nightmare. We look forward to the meeting."
In January, Highways England, in its public consultation document, said it expected work to begin in the winter of 2018. And last month, the timetable was put back again to 2019.
In a statement, Highways England said: "We are committed to delivering the important A63 improvement which will relieve congestion and improve accessibility to the Port of Hull as soon as we possibly can.
"We understand the local frustration and disappointment but this is a major and complex project which requires meticulous planning to ensure it is carried out safely and efficiently.
"We continue to work hard with Hull City Council on all aspects of the scheme and to resolve the technical and practical challenges before we can submit the Development Consent Order (DCO) next summer.
"The results will give the people of Hull more reliable journeys by easing traffic flows and improving access to the city."
Under plans, Castle Street – considered Hull's most-congested road – will be lowered by up to 7m at the Mytongate junction. A new bridge will take traffic between Ferensway and Commercial Road.
Garrison Road roundabout 'is on track'
Highways England has stated a separate £6.3m scheme to redesign the Garrison Road roundabout - the scene of several fatal accidents in recent years - is going ahead as planned.
Work is expected to begin on this scheme in Spring 2018.
It states: "Before work begins on the Castle Street major project, Highways England will be carrying out a scheme to cut congestion and improve safety at the Garrison Road roundabout, with works commencing in Spring 2018. A further announcement will be made about this scheme later this year."