Proposed road scheme in High Wycombe is withdrawn

Plans to carry out major works at Abbey Barn Lane in High Wycombe are being cancelled due to escalating costs and significant obstacles uncovered during feasibility works.

Buckinghamshire Council has been examining options to realign and improve Abbey Barn Lane following an award of funding by Homes England in October 2019.

These plans were curtailed when ground investigation work made it clear that the project costs would far outstrip the available budget. Following a review of options in 2020 the council developed a more cost-effective proposal that involved widening the road, replacing the old rail bridge and building a new roundabout at the junction of Abbey Barn Road and Kingsmead Road to provide access to a site for housing at Abbey Barn North.

As with all major road schemes, thorough feasibility and preliminary design work has been carried out. Following this work, the council is taking the pragmatic decision to stop the project, subject to agreement with Homes England regarding formal closure of the scheme and related matters. This is because of concerns about the scheme’s impacts and effectiveness, rapidly rising costs and overall value for money. With a large shortfall in the budget available and the continued risk of further cost rises the council has to make hard choices about its priorities.

Significant factors that led to this decision was the need to re-route a major gas main, which would add £3 million to the cost of the project and further ground investigation works which revealed ground conditions were more challenging than anticipated.

Martin Tett is Leader of Buckinghamshire Council and portfolio holder for Strategic Infrastructure. He said:

“We have to make sure any major schemes like this deliver value for money for residents and are simply worth the disruption and expense. And that ultimately, they are the right scheme for the local area. As issues arose with this project during feasibility, it became ever clearer that these plans weren’t right in their current form. The impact of inflation on the cost of this scheme is also a key factor. It’s important to know when to pull back and cancel a project with escalating costs that won’t deliver for residents.

I am very conscious that this area is earmarked for some future development and want to reassure residents that any future plans in this area will be worked up in consultation with the local community.”