Scotch Corner Designer Village opening dependent on unscheduled roadworks, councillors told

An artist's impression of the new Scotch Corner Designer Village.

A further cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the opening date of Scotch Corner Designer Village after it emerged a road upgrade yet to be scheduled would need to be completed before shoppers could visit the centre.

Roads bosses said following last month’s ministerial approval of the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project, which includes the heavily congested Scotch Corner A1(M) and A66 junction, progressing the scheme would be dependent on whether there were any appeals against the decision.

A National Highways officer told a meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s transport scrutiny committee their recent work had focused on the western end of the 50-mile upgrade of the A66 and they would need to get a business case approved by the Department for Transport before they could access “construction phase funding”.

He told the committee it was unknown when the Scotch Corner upgrade would be undertaken during the four-year A66 scheme, which was “likely to start spring summer 2025”.

However, as part of planning consent for the 23,000sq m Scotch Corner Designer Village, it is stipulated the shopping centre cannot open until work to upgrade both Scotch Corner and Blue Anchor roundabouts is completed without approval by National Highways and North Yorkshire Council.

Welcoming approval of the shopping centre in 2016, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak forecast it would “attract shoppers from across the North of England”.

Since the condition was imposed in 2015 to offset the impact of thousands of extra vehicles using the shopping complex using the junction there has been mounting concerns over congestion there, with local residents complaining of regular “gridlock”.

The development was initially scheduled to open in the autumn of 2021.

Last year, the firm behind the shopping centre, and an approved plan for the country’s largest garden centre beside it, announced it would not open until September this year at the earliest.

However, the committee heard National Highways’ designs for the work at Scotch Corner remained at a “very early stage”.

Councillor for the area Angus Thompson said: “In the last two or three years I’ve seen three proposals for the roundabout, but go there on a Friday afternoon and try and get out of Middleton Tyas on the east side and it’s absolutely impossible. That’s as things are now without any additional traffic.

“So residents are saying when will a proposal be brought forward as to what’s going to happen at this bottleneck awful roundabout?”

On being asked if National Highways would consider bringing the Scotch Corner part of the A66 scheme forward at an early stage, the officers replied they were “very much aware” of the Designer Village and that it was important to understand the cumulative impact of the development on nearby roads.

He said: “Scotch Corner is an important part of the upgrade of the A66. It is a smaller component, compared with some of the large bypasses we’re putting in along the A66 to enable the dualling.”

Councillor Stephen Watson said while National Highways was focusing on improving the western end of the A66 the Scotch Corner upgrade needed to be treated with more urgency.

He added: “It is pointless rushing traffic to a known congestion spot.”

The National Highways officer said: “What’s really important is the close working between North Yorkshire Council and National Highways as the two schemes come forward.”

2 Comments

  1. But why do you people supposedly in let the actual go ahead of the complex in first place same as always you think your in the right job but ineffect you don’t you take money in wages from us tax payers and still cannot see a job through how much is that site cost us tax payers over the last six years

  2. What is the point of building an out of town shopping centre next to a major motorway junction. Have the planners learnt nothing from the chaos which ensues at the junctions where such places have been built? Not to mention the climate crisis issues exacerbated by extra car journeys. Shops should be where people live, not miles away.

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