AN AMBITIOUS multi-million-pound bypass could be on the cards for Whitehaven.

The bypass, known as the Whitehaven Relief Road, would leave the A595 at the Howgate roundabout and rejoin it close to Westlakes Science Park and would divert high volumes of traffic away from villages and estates including Lowca, Parton, Hensingham, Hillcrest, Mirehouse and the busy Loop Road area.

Council chiefs say there is “long-held ambition” for the new road, and an application has been made this week for funding towards its creation.

The route – though subject to change – currently comprises a mixture of new-build roads and the use of existing ones. Beginning at the Howgate roundabout, a short section of new road joins the existing Rosehill road, past Whitehaven Golf Club and behind St Benedict’s School, before a new road is built from the Moresby roundabout, through Hensingham Common, around the back of Cumbria Sports Academy and the West Cumberland Hospital, before rejoining the A595 before the science park.

The £800,000 needed for a feasibility study into the road in a total £165 million bid by Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership to the government’s Growth Deal fund. A decision is expected in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, and if the study is agreed and it reveals the road is feasible, Copeland plans to ask NuGen to fund it as part of its wider plans for the Moorside nuclear plant on land next to Sellafield.

Mike Starkie, Copeland’s mayor, said: “It’s a long-held ambition for the road – and now there is a real opportunity to pursue it. We have made NuGen acutely aware of issues with the A595, and rather than them offering to improve various pinchpoints on the existing road, developing a new road is something that we can take forward.

“There are enormous benefits of the new road. As well as relieving pressure on the A595, it would open up around 150 hectares of land on the route of the road for new housing, business and enterprise. This could make a significant difference to the local economy.”

Frank Morgan, chair of Cumbria County Council’s Copeland Local Committee, said: "A lot of work has gone in behind the scenes by county council officers to get us to this point and it’s fantastic that the scheme has been included in this ambitious Growth Deal bid from the LEP.

"The need for a Whitehaven Relief Road, and the benefits it could bring, are clear. This is long held ambition for Whitehaven and we are very hopeful that we will be successful in our bid.”

A number of Whitehaven councillors have backed the scheme. Mike Hawkins said: “I’d welcome anything that takes traffic off the A595. We’ve been after a bypass for years, and chances like this don’t come too often.”

John Kane added: “It would be ideal. Egremont was bypassed when they built Thorp, and it makes sense to bypass large residential areas this time around.”

However, Raymond Gill, mayor of Whitehaven Town Council, said while he supports the bypass in theory, he “would be keen to ensure it doesn’t put people off going into Whitehaven town centre”.