Those are the key messages Herefordshire councillors will hear on Thursday next week, June 14, when cabinet meets to discuss taking the next step to progress the construction of the road which will run from the bottom of Aylestone Hill across to Edgar Street.
The 850m road will connect Widemarsh Street, Blackfriars Street, Station Approach and Canal Road and will significantly reduce the amount of traffic on Newmarket Street and Blueschool Street allowing the roads to be upgraded to become pedestrian-friendly and allow improved connectivity between the existing city centre and the Old Market development.
It will also allow the wider regeneration of the ESG area to begin. This 20-acre site which will be opened up by the road will be able to accommodate up to 800 housing units, of which a third will be much needed affordable housing for local people.
The link road will also improve access to the County Hospital and the railway station from the north and west of the city and provide a safe cycle route from the Western Way.
Cabinet will hear that the council has already been in discussion with businesses which would be affected by the construction of the road and is already working with a number of them to find suitable alternative locations – similar to the programme of support the council offered to a number of businesses which had to relocate from the old cattle market site; the majority of these businesses are now thriving in more prominent positions across the city.
Fourteen businesses will be required to relocate from within the link road area while a further five businesses, while not having to relocate, will be affected by the road.
Details of suitable alternative business units and sites are being sent to all these businesses and a series of meetings between individual businesses and council officers is being planned to ensure the council can support them in the best way possible.
Planning consent for the link road was granted two years ago, in March 2010. Earlier this year the council agreed to secure the £27 million funding for the road.
To ensure the road can be built, cabinet will be asked to agree that the council can negotiate with possible affected landowners as regards the acquisition of land necessary for the road, and also to agree the principal that the council can use its compulsory purchase powers where necessary to secure the required land.