£3.2m transformation of Vauxhall Way into dual carriageway looks set for go-ahead

A £3.2m phased dualling of Vauxhall Way in Luton looks set to go ahead in the new year and could take up to four years to complete.

The project was due to start in August, but was put on hold after some initial preparation work.

Vauxhall Way, leading to the roundabout with Hitchin Road and Stopsley Way

Vauxhall Way, leading to the roundabout with Hitchin Road and Stopsley Way

Residents complained they had not been consulted about the scheme, which will include traffic lights at junctions and the loss of trees and other greenery.

The first of two drop-in sessions about the plans for Vauxhall Way took place at Ashcroft High School last week.

“Back in the 60s or early 70s the road was intended to be a dual carriageway,” according to the council’s manager for planning and transportation sustainability Steve Lain.

“As we’ve started to develop the schemes for the four junctions, local residents have been unaware of what that work is going to entail,” he said.

“Although we intended to start at the Kimpton Road end, because of the Luton DART scheme going ahead, each time we tried to get a start on the project we were told we could begin, but then we’d have to stop.

“So we gave up on that one and moved up the road to the Hitchin Road and Stopsley Way junction."

The council plans to turn the roundabout into a large T junction.

Mr Lain said: “Dualling Vauxhall Way [but] keeping roundabouts won’t give us the chance to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists along there.

“We want to encourage people to get out on their bicycles, and we want to improve the walking and cycling facilities up to the Inspire Luton Sports Village.”

The improvements to the main route into and out of east Luton will include replacement planting of trees and wild flowers.

The section past the Vauxhall Works “is going to be another challenge, but we intend to widen it to dual along that section as well”, explained Mr Lain.

“We have been working with what was Vauxhall to take part of the land to put in a green wall facility along that side, which will improve the air quality through there.

“That is the last part of the works to be done. We’ll improve the Kimpton Road junction and dual that section at the same time.

“We’re using £1.2m funding from South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and £2m which came from a Section 106 agreement. That was signed by London Luton Airport when the planning consent to 18m passengers was agreed.

“We really do need to get this one in place and delivered,” he added. “It’s all on land owned by the council designated for highway use.

“We’re starting now around the beginning of 2020 and we hope to have the whole corridor completed by 2024. When we were looking at the east Luton model for traffic it indicates about 12 other junctions that we need to do work on. Several people asked about them and I have said it’s not appropriate to say as we don’t have funding and it’s just a wish list.”

Mr Lain described an East Luton ring road as unrealistic at present, as it would be “on land outside of Luton’s control”.