A LABOUR councillor seeking to compel the completion of a “vexing and contested” highway in a “timely manner” has come to the defence of residents who “bear no responsibility” for its delay.

Cllr Robin Stuchbury said the innocence of residents in the delay of Beaconsfield’s long-awaited relief road was something “about which no one can disagree”.

His comments came after Inland Homes CEO, Stephen Wicks, appeared during an online spat to partly blame residents for the prolonged project, which could still be another four years away from completion, “all being well”.

READ MORE: Council built relief road section ‘too early’, developer CEO says – amid claims it won’t be finished for 4 years

The eagerly awaited finish of the A355 relief road exposed raw nerves on community platform Nextdoor, in which Mr Wicks took aim at Buckinghamshire Council for completing its portion of the road “too early”.

He said Inland Homes’ section will be completed and open “in around four years’ time”. Adding: “Half the problem is that residents fought the planning for years, we had hundreds of objections and could have got on years ago, to this day we still have not got a consent we can implement.”

He said developers must demolish “£10 million of perfectly good houses to facilitate the road”. Adding, they did not need the bypass for planning permission to overhaul Wilton Park, but rather the council wanted a relief road that “happens to go through our land”.

Mr Wicks said it was “a bit rich” residents demanded Inland “do the ‘honourable thing’ and spend millions building a road before a single house is built”. He urged “a few hundred letters of support” to move the project along.

In response, Labour member Cllr Stuchbury, said: “I have concerns about the highways agreement…seemingly not being enforced for the Beaconsfield relief road to be completed.

“If the relief road had been better managed in the early planning stages, a static time limit could have been in place forcing the developer to construct the road in a timely manner.

“Residents have also raised concerns that the planning did not adhere to the highways agreement in the now historical report.

“It could be suggested, Buckinghamshire has effectively handed control of the timing of completion of the relief road to Inland Homes, resulting in hundreds of HS2 construction HGVs to soon be using the Beaconsfield Old Town Conservation Area.”

Cllr Stuchbury had planned to raise the issue during a webcast cabinet meeting, on Tuesday, September 8, but instead challenged the council over the government’s “Planning for the Future” White Paper.

“I am awaiting a written response to this important [relief road] question from the council,” he said.

“But one thing about which no one can disagree, is that Beaconsfield residents bear no responsibility for local authority decisions relating to this vexing and contested historical application.”

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In response to the comments online, cabinet member for transport at Buckinghamshire Council, Cllr Nick Naylor, said: “(The former) Buckinghamshire County Council completed the second of three stages in the construction of a relief road for Beaconsfield on November 7, 2019. The half-mile stretch will eventually become the A355, connecting with stage one, the short southern arm constructed by the developer Inland Homes from Pyebush Roundabout in 2017.

“Planning permission was granted in 2014 by (the former) South Bucks District Council for the construction of the southern section of the link road. The original completion date put forward by Inland Homes for the southern section of the relief road was 2018. It was on this basis that the council secured forward funding from the government for the delivery of the northern section of the road.

“In September 2019, planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of the former Wilton Park MoD site for housing, including the delivery of the southern relief road. Inland Homes is responsible for constructing the third stage of the relief road, which will complete the link between the council’s northern stage and the existing southern arm.

“The planning permission stipulates that the remaining stretch of relief road should be finished alongside the completion and occupation of the first 99 new homes at Wilton Park. At this stage, Inland Homes has not yet commenced on site and is in discussions with the council regarding required planning approvals.

“The council completed the northern section of road ahead of the developer’s section, to meet government funding commitments, which allocated the budget to be spent by 2019. The scheduling for the third stage is in the control of Inland Homes, and the council is in regular dialogue with them to bring forward the final section of the relief road as soon as possible.

“The A355 Beaconsfield relief road is one of six major highways projects identified in Buckinghamshire’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) with the purpose of improving the council’s strategic transport network.”

Buckinghamshire Council has been approached about Cllr Stuchbury’s comments.