DESIGN work on the proposed Western Link bypass is progressing – with an MP saying it will make a major difference to the town’s traffic problems.

The £212.74 million route is planned to connect the A56 Chester Road with the A57 Sankey Way in Great Sankey.

The Government has confirmed, in principle, it will put £142.5 million towards the controversial scheme, with the Labour-run council planning to contribute £70.2 million.

But a final business case still needs to be submitted to the Government.

While the scheme is tipped to reduce congestion and unlock key development land, concerns have also been raised over the loss of green belt and green space as a result of the project.

An update has been provided in a report to the council’s supporting the local economy policy committee for its meeting on Wednesday.

It says design works continue with the council’s consultant team and a planning application is expected to be submitted this summer. If it secures funding and planning permission, the road could be open to traffic in 2026.

It adds: “Dialogue with affected residents, businesses and landholders continues.

“The second phase of ‘real time’ air quality monitoring stations are nearing completion, with the final commissioning programmed to take place in the near future.

“Scheme funding and progression remains subject to the approval of a full major scheme business case, which will be scrutinised by the Department for Transport.”

Warrington South Tory MP Andy Carter says improving infrastructure is key to the Government’s commitment to levelling up across the north.

“Congestion in the centre of Warrington is still a problem and we have to take steps to address it,” he said.

“The Department for Transport have agreed in principle for funding for the new Western Link road, which is good news for Warrington and will make a major difference to the traffic problems.”

However, Warrington and Halton Green Party is strongly opposed to the Western Link.

Leader Lyndsay McAteer says it will not reduce congestion significantly enough and the money could be put to much better use if it was invested into post-Covid recovery projects to help people and improve the environment.

She added: “We have been opposed to this project from the very beginning and our members have protested about this with campaign groups and members of the public.

“It will mean an increase in traffic and dangerous and deadly air pollution, environmental destruction carving up green belt land and a Peel highway road to nowhere, which opens up a flood plain for house building.

“Most of all we oppose the Western Link because the business case does not stack up – it is not fit for purpose.

“Post Covid, traffic levels in Warrington have decreased. Flexible working and working from home will take more cars off the roads.

“Longer term, public transport needs to be made affordable, or free, so that people will get out of their cars.

“There needs to be safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly in the town centre. All of these things will help solve Warrington’s congestion nightmare.”