£20m for road ‘will get town out of a jam’


A new road to ease traffic congestion in the centre of Dunstable has taken a major step forward with a £20million award.

The 3.3km Woodside Link will connect Houghton Regis and Dunstable’s industrial estates to the planned new M1 Junction 11a. Funding for the road was this week given to the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) as part of a £64.4million Growth Deal investment.

It is claimed that the Woodside Link will create 5,800 new jobs and 5,150 new homes.

James Jamieson, SEMLEP director and leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “All these projects are excellent news and will bring huge benefits. The Woodside Link will open up the area north of Houghton Regis for much-needed housing and jobs and will also get traffic – especially heavy lorries – out of the urban areas of Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Luton.”

Clive Faine, who chairs SEMLEP’s property, development and infrastructure group, said: “The Woodside Link will improve access, ease congestion and deliver new investment and jobs to Central Bedfordshire, Dunstable and Luton and will open up opportunities for new homes and businesses.”

The £64.4million funding also includes £23.5million to complete work along a stretch of the A421, which will result in uninterrupted dual carriageway from Milton Keynes to Bedford.

And £800,000 has been granted to promote sustainable transport choices within Luton and Dunstable through Central Bedfordshire’s Smarter Routes Into Employment programme.

In addition, £2.5million has been given to build a new engineering and construction skills centre in Leighton Buzzard, which will train young people and adults to work as technicians.

The Leighton Linslade Engineering and Construction Skills Centre will meet the skills gap in the engineering and construction industries in Central Bedfordshire, with young people and adults gaining relevant skills for employment.

Ali Hadawi, principal and chief executive of Dunstable-based Central Bedfordshire College, said: “This funding for the partnership with VINCI Technology Centre comes as welcome recognition of the college’s ceaseless determination to ensure that its teaching and training is relevant to the needs of businesses in all employment sectors.”

Dr Ann Limb, who chairs SEMLEP, said: “We are delighted our Strategic Economic Plan has been agreed by government and that we have secured essential funding for much-needed, local and strategic projects which will drive growth across the area and deliver the necessary infrastructure to enable new homes to be built and new employment sites to be developed.”