FOUR major bypass schemes to improve travel times across North Yorkshire have been prioritised, despite some of the routes being left off the Government’s recently-announced Major Roads Network.

The county council executive will consider whether to push forward a costly north to south bypass scheme around Northallerton on the A167 and bypass schemes north and south of York on the A19 at Shipton by Beningbrough and Burn, which are likely to cost up to £20m and £10m respectively.

While all three schemes have been assessed as being very cost-effective, officers said the other prioritised project, a Malton and Norton southern bypass, was “closely linked to potential local plan growth and addressing town centre congestion issues”.

The executive will consider whether the four schemes should be the next to be pursued following the realignment of the A59 at Kex Gill and the proposals to create a Harrogate relief road.

Leaders of district councils in Hambleton and Ryedale welcomed the move to prioritise the schemes, saying they would prove a boost to residents while helping unlocking economic potential in the areas.

Ryedale leader Councillor Keane Duncan said: “The new bypass is a critical piece of infrastructure, with the potential to solve Malton and Norton’s congestion issues once and for all and support new development.

“It is good to see the county council has recognised the massive benefits the scheme will have.

“But now is the difficult task of making it happen. Sadly there are high costs to overcome but where there is will, there is a way.

“Ryedale District Council is keen to puts its money where its mouth is and work with the County Council to drive this scheme forward at the earliest opportunity.”

County council executive member for highways, Cllr Don Mackenzie, said: “The list of prioritised major schemes has been in existence for many years, but we have to review it as every major scheme has to have a reasonable cost to benefit ratio.”

A report to the executive states there has been a change in emphasis by Government on what major schemes should deliver, with the focus now on economic growth.

As a result, schemes which would support new housing and employment growth, improve connectivity between major economic centres and improve cross boundary links are being prioritised.

While the Northallerton bypass initiative could cost in excess of £40m, as its benefits are described as “very high” compared to its cost, it has been prioritised despite it not featuring on the MRN, which would mean it would qualify for a stream of funding from vehicle excise duty.

The report states the authority is intending to engage consultants to review options for the four prioritised bypass schemes, “to ensure that the most appropriate solution is chosen to take forward”.

The report says other ambitions, such as plans for bypasses at the A170 Sutton under Whitestonecliffe and A170 Pickering could be prioritised in future as they have been included on the MRN.

Officers added that the Department for Transport is yet to confirm what funding will be available for the MRN, which would consist of selected local authority managed A-roads that would reduce congestion, support economic growth and housing delivery.