YORK’S two MPs are at loggerheads over whether the city should press ahead and dual the A 1237 outer ring road.

Julian Sturdy, the Conservative MP for York Outer, says the road should have been dualled years ago.

His message to city planners, who will meet to discuss a revised application for the £65 million road scheme next week: “Just dual it!”

But Rachael Maskell, the Labour MP for York Central, says dualling is ‘not the right solution’ – and that money should be spent on improving public transport instead.

As reported in The Press earlier this week, revised plans for the dualling scheme are due to go before city planners next Tuesday (March 19).

The plans, which are recommended for approval, are backed by key agencies such as the Environment Agency and Active Travel England – but have also received 137 objections.


Fresh plans in for £65m dualling of York outer ring road

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The revised planning application was submitted by the city council itself, follows months of work tweaking an earlier 2022 application to address what the authority calls ‘technical’ issues such as traffic lights and flood risk ‘compensatory’ water storage.

The fresh application details plans for dualling of the A1237 between the junction with the A19 and the Hopgrove roundabout, as well as improvements to roundabouts, two new overbridges, six underpasses and 5.1km of ‘shared use’ cycle and pedestrian routes.

York Press: A computer-generated image showing how an improved roundabout on the A1237 may lookA computer-generated image showing how an improved roundabout on the A1237 may look (Image: Council/ planning)

The council admitted today that, given the length of time since the earlier application was submitted in 2022, it is undertaking a ‘cost review’ to see whether the project can still be delivered for £65 million.

But Mr Sturdy today urged the authority to just get on with delivering the scheme.

He said: "It is fantastic to see plans to dual the ring road finally coming to planning committee. I am unashamedly for dualling the ring road; it should have been done years ago.

York Press: York Outer MP Julian SturdyYork Outer MP Julian Sturdy (Image: Supplied)

“Anyone who lives in York knows the rush hour crawl along the ring road. The clear benefit of dualling will be better flow of traffic and a cut to journey times. With gridlock a thing of the past, this opens the door to further investment in York by businesses. JUST DUAL IT!”

But Ms Maskell said: “The question that those scrutinising the plans must ask is, can we afford to dual the Outer Ring Road at this juncture; afford financially and afford environmentally?

“While at first hand it sounds the obvious way forward, when you delve deeper into the issue, it is not the right solution, especially for the longer term.

York Press: York Central MP Rachael MaskellYork Central MP Rachael Maskell (Image: Supplied)

“The ring road will increase car usage around the city over time.

“The £65m committed for this project should instead be deployed to developing more sustainable public transport infrastructure around the city.”

Cllr Pete Kilbane, the city’s Labour executive member for transport, supports the scheme – but admits it is not a solution to York’s traffic problems in itself.

The city and region need to be ‘far more ambitious’ in the longer term, he says – something he plans to speak to the region’s new Mayor for York and North Yorkshire about after they are elected in May.

He said: “As with the almost four out of five residents completing the consultation, I’m supportive of the dualling scheme.

“But it must move traffic out of the city centre and come with a step change in active travel.

York Press: Cllr Pete KilbaneCllr Pete Kilbane (Image: Supplied)

“We need to be far more ambitious in our thinking if we are going to solve the problems of traffic congestion, air pollution and climate change.

“This means having serious conversations with the incoming Mayor about the possibilities for light rail and bus priority measures to remove the need for current levels of car journeys.”


What Others Say

York’s Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr Nigel Ayre:

“Liberal Democrat councillors have lobbied extensively for years to secure Government funding to dual and upgrade the York Outer Ring Road and we know that local residents and businesses will be pleased to see the scheme continue to progress.

York Press: Cllr Nigel AyreCllr Nigel Ayre (Image: Supplied)

“Labour has inherited this ‘oven-ready’ infrastructure project from the previous Liberal Democrat-led administration. It forms a part of the strategy to tackle congestion and free up more space for public transport and active travel within the ring road.

“We would like to see further progress in delivering real improvements for cycling, wheeling and walking alongside the dualling of the ring road.”

York Civic Trust transport expert Prof Tony May

“York Civic Trust has long supported the principle of dualling the Outer Ring Road, provided that there is clear evidence that the scheme will reduce traffic within the city, and that those benefits are locked in from the outset. Unfortunately, the council has never provided that evidence.

“The Outer Ring Road upgrade is expected to reduce congestion in the short term, but this will induce additional traffic. This has already happened at the Poppleton Bar junction, where traffic levels increased by 20 per cent in two years without any reduction in traffic within York.

York Press: Prof Tony MayProf Tony May (Image: Newsquest)

“The upgrade’s Transport Assessment predicts a 90 per cent increase in traffic between Clifton Moor and Wigginton Road on completion, and minimal reductions in traffic within inner York. “Reductions on the Inner Ring Road would be less than 100 vehicles per hour in 2036, with a maximum reduction of 7 per cent on Gillygate.

“This would totally fail to reduce the extreme levels of congestion and pollution which inner York currently experiences, blighting the quality of life of residents and experiences of visitors to the city.

“It should be a condition of any approval of the outer ring road application that (the council) develops a Movement and Place Plan which identifies the mitigation measures needed to reduce inner city traffic, and implements those measures in parallel with the outer ring road upgrade.