Way clear at last for Temple Sowerby bypass

Date: Saturday 2nd August 2003

RESIDENTS of Temple Sowerby and ramblers were both celebrating this week at the result of the village bypass inquiry.

The Secretary of State for Transport has confirmed inspector Derek Sleath’s recommendation that the £18.5 million scheme go ahead, with only minor modifications.

The main change is that an £170,000 underpass will be created to continue two footpaths which would have been dissected by the new road. The paths, one of which provides a direct route from Whinfell Spinney to the River Eden, and the other, which runs from Vicarage Lane to the river, will instead be connected under the road.

The only people who expressed some disappointment, following the inquiry at the Tufton Arms, Appleby, in February, were those who sought to convince the inspector that the bypass should also incorporate a route around Kirkby Thore, as well as Temple Sowerby.

In response to this, reference is made to the plans announced last year to upgrade the whole of the A66 to dual carriageway. The decision notice says: “This includes the section at Kirkby Thore. It is too early to give any details about specific improvements but preliminary designs for this route will be developed so that a number of options can be presented to the public for consultation.

“In the meantime, the A66 Temple Sowerby bypass scheme does not prejudice any future proposals for Kirkby Thore.”

Eden district councillor Henry Sawrey-Cookson (Ind., Kirkby Thore) said: “It is extremely good news for everybody in Temple Sowerby. However, it would have made more economic sense and been more satisfactory all round if the whole stretch of road from Brougham to Appleby was made dual carriageway at one go.”

He said the success of Temple Sowerby’s bypass campaign was a tribute to the determination and general unity of those who had fought for more than three decades.

“Their quality of life has been taken away from them by the increasing volume of traffic, with resulting vibrations, pollution and danger and also quite simply the time it takes to cross the road from one side of the village of the other. Where young children or the infirm are concerned, they might have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for a sufficient break in the traffic,” he said.

There would be a loss of some 70 acres of agricultural land and he hoped the farmers and landowners would get fair compensation. He hoped work would start in spring, but said the traffic problems would then be worse on the unimproved sections of the A66 route between Penrith and Stainmore, as traffic came on and off dual carriageway sections on to winding parts of the route.

The question would then be which section to improve next Whinfell, Kirkby Thore or Warcop.

“One would hope the priority will be how it affects human lives and inhabitants. I would say Kirkby Thore is the most affected place on the route, after Temple Sowerby. The route doesn’t go through any other village all the way to Scotch Corner.”

Mr. Sawrey-Cookson said Kirkby Thore Transport Steering Group was making strong efforts to lobby for a bypass of that village and residents must make sure they had the same determination as neighbouring villagers at Temple Sowerby and the same “unified voice” in order to attain their objectives.

Temple Sowerby GP Gavin Young, who has campaigned for the bypass for many years, said his feeling over the announcement was “delight”.

“It is wonderful, although it wasn’t much of a surprise because there had been no substantive objections. There were objections from some local people whose land was affected, which was perfectly understandable. None of the others were enough to cancel the program,” he added.

Dr. Young has been one of those demanding a bypass for the past 20 years, although he said the process of removing traffic dangers from Temple Sowerby had really begun some 40 years ago. The campaign group was formed in 1983 when the then bypass plan was dropped but there had been an original proposal in the 70s, following a decade or more of debate.

“It is the last hurdle jumped. Now they just need to get on and start moving earth. Hopefully that will be in spring,” added Dr. Young.

Alan Duval, footpath secretary of Penrith group of the Ramblers’ Association, said they were pleased that the Secretary of State and the inquiry inspector accepted their suggestion that there should be an underpass. “It means residents and visitors will be able to continue to walk down to the River Eden for many years to come,” he said.

It was a major victory for the association as the paths were so well used and so important to local people. The Highways Agency’s proposal to mitigate the dissection of the two footpaths was to make long diversions which included having to walk next to the new bypass carrying 13,000 vehicles per day. In his report the inspector said: “I believe it would be in the public interest to build an underpass at this point to maintain good access to these two footpaths.”

Orders for the bypass, side road improvements, detrunking, compulsory purchase and other matters will shortly be made and discussions will begin about compensation levels to landowners. Anyone who wants to question the validity of the orders on the grounds that the Secretary of State for Transport has exceeded his powers must do so by application to the High Court, within six weeks of the publication of the notice.

Following the announcement, a spokesman for the Highways Agency said he was unable to say when work would start on the bypass but “it will be 2004 or 2005”. “We have to appoint contractors and they will have to build up a program,” he said.