OTLEY'S long-anticipated relief road is a major step closer thanks to a £6.3 million funding boost.

The Housing Infrastructure Fund money - part of an £866 million nationwide investment - was confirmed on Thursday, February 1.

Leeds City Council, supporting the lead developer behind the 550 home East of Otley scheme, Persimmon Homes, put a bid in for the money last year.

The funds will help cover 'abnormal' costs - including land stability issues - attached to the relief road that the developer must build as part of the scheme.

The town's three ward councillors (all Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) and MP, Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West), welcomed the news.

Councillor Colin Campbell said: "As someone who remembers when the original road was cut by the then Labour council, I am pleased we are finally to see some progress on this much needed piece of infrastructure.

"This ends the uncertainty which has been hanging over the area for years, but will mean that housing development will take place.

"Many people do not support this but Labour's housing plans mean it must go ahead.

"It does, however, mean that east-west traffic will no longer have to go through the town, so congestion on other routes will be diminished."

Mr Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) said: "I wrote in support of Leeds' application for the road as I believe we need this additional capacity for Otley, and am pleased the Government has awarded this money.

"This investment is significant and provides the necessary infrastructure which means the East of Otley developers can't claim the cost of the road as an excuse for not meeting their obligations, particularly for affordable housing.

"Anyone who drives in and out of Otley on a regular basis will know the constant issues of traffic congestion and pollution caused by standing vehicles.

"After years of the empty Northern Powerhouse rhetoric from the Tories, I am delighted Leeds has successfully secured this kind of investment from the Government.
"But we still need more, right across the region."

Councillor Ryk Downes said: "We now know the road can be built.

"We expect it to be started at an early stage in any development and built out in one phase. This will reduce disturbance and improve traffic flows.

"However, we would not support any attempt by developers to move the road further east and expand the area available for housing."

Councillor Sandy Lay, meanwhile, says lots of details still have to be agreed: "We have already put forward a series of requirements for any road.

"These include cycle paths, easy footpath routes along and across the road and, importantly, planting and noise attenuation to protect the view along the valley and from the Chevin.

"The road is just one part of the infrastructure we need.

"The council still needs to ensure that the proposed school is built, employment space is provided and that any residential property is high quality and meets local need."

A detailed planning application for the scheme is now expected to be submitted by the summer.

Otley Town Council Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) says it will be scrutinised closely: "If we are to have housing it should be of the highest standard, incorporating the latest energy efficiency measures and providing homes to meet local need."