WORK on a £21million road aimed at reducing congestion in Taunton could start in six weeks after a Government inspector approved the scheme.

The Taunton Northern Inner Distributor Road will link the north of the town to Firepool and the former cattle market site, and is hoped to relieve traffic hotspots around Greenway Road and Priorswood Road.

The scheme has attracted controversy and was the subject of a planning inquiry last year.

However, in his report published this week, Planning Inspector Martin Whitehead said the scheme is in the public interest and any concerns “do not outweigh” the benefits of the road.

Taunton Deane Council leader Cllr John Williams said: “This is the best possible news, and means we can continue planning and investing for the future.”

Funding for the project is being split between the Department for Transport, which is forking out £15million, developers (£4million) and Somerset County Council (£2million).

The scheme involves building a 1.6km road, creating a junction at Chip Lane/Staplegrove Road, and building a bridge over the River Tone and the canal at Priory Fields Retail Park.

The former rail bridge over Station Road, north of Whitehall, and the existing footbridge over the railway at Chip Lane will be replaced, and extra pedestrian and cycle facilities will be added.

The report said journey times through the town centre will be much more reliable and reduced by two to three minutes.

Some of the objections against the road had included extra noise, traffic, pollution and inadequate cyclist safety.

The road would be the first part of a wider revamp of Firepool which would use a seven-hectare site to create 6,000 jobs, 400 apartments, 500,000sq m of office space, shops and cafés.

County council leader Cllr John Osman said: “I’m delighted it’s so close to becoming a reality.

“There’s still a lot of hard work ahead, but it does mean we’ll be able to unlock more of Taunton’s potential.”

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