A VISION for a long-awaited northern relief road that could alleviate traffic in Kendal and unlock the town's economic potential has been resurrected.

A new study undertaken by Cumbria County Council has found that a link road between the A591 and the A685, known as the Northern Access Route, would deliver a number of benefits for the town.

The Kendal Strategic Transport Infrastructure Study concluded that it would deliver future strategic growth in Kendal, improve access to current and future employment sites and reduce town centre congestion. It could also be utilised as a diversion if there was a serious accident in the Kendal area or on the M6 and prevent the town becoming gridlocked.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said he would be calling on the Government to back the route which would enable heavy goods vehicles and other traffic to bypass Kendal from a point near Plumgarths roundabout. The road would cut through agricultural land to the town's northern industrial estates and supermarkets around Shap Road.

"It would genuinely create new business opportunities while completely improving the traffic flow within town, making it a much safer and peaceful place to be," said Mr Farron. "There's a huge range of potential here that the Northern Relief Road potentially opens up, in particular the north east of Kendal."

The idea of a relief road has been debated for decades but gathered dust since being designated by the county council as a 'priority' in its Local Transport Plan 2006-11.

The road plan has been brought to the fore once more because of long-standing issues of town centre congestions, the impact of M6 closures and the significant and prolonged road closures following flooding associated with Storm Desmond.


The impacts of the flood event on route availability, journey times and town centre accessibility harnessed momentum and support among members at county, district and town council level for a study to consider future infrastructure that may be needed to support the role and growth of Kendal.

No specific route details or costs have been released by CCC, but a spokesperson said the corridor for the route could link the A591 with the A6 and potentially the A685.

Further development, and the case for new infrastructure, would be linked to the next South Lakeland Local Plan, which is currently scheduled for adoption by July 2021 and is intended to cover the period 2021 to 2036.

Cllr Nick Cotton, chairman of CCC's South Lakeland Local Committee, said: "The local community in Kendal has been asking for improvements to the transport infrastructure in and around the town for a long time, and this is the first step to achieving a long term solution to ease congestion, enhance road safety and improve the capacity of the network.”

Cllr Stan Collins, who has been heavily involved in the effort to bring a relief road to Kendal for many years, said that he was 'cautiously optimistic' about the plans.

"I think we have got a better chance this time because we have demonstrated that the infrastructure around here is fragile," he said.

Previous schemes have caused concern for residents in Burneside as it has been considered likely that the village would be in the path of any proposed plan.

However, Jannice Wilkinson, chair of Burneside Parish Council, said the council would not be worrying until the council 'put a proper line on the map'.

"Until there's a definite plan, and they consult with the parish council, we cannot do anything or say anything," she said.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce believes that the Northern Access Route would be of huge benefit to Kendal.

"We have been making the case for greater investment in roads across Cumbria, and a northern bypass for Kendal is a top priority," he said.

“The cost of building this road would be repaid many times over by the growth it would stimulate, and the tax revenue that would flow from that growth.”

Next steps for the road include ongoing engagement with the Environment Agency and a sharing of the strategic outline business case with Cumbria's Local Enterprise Partnership.

Moving beyond these steps will require further investment in scheme development in order to prepare a robust case and there will have to be further engagement with local stakeholders.