THERE are no signs a new major road to alleviate Christchurch’s worsening traffic problems will be progressed in the near future.

Discussions over providing an outer relief road for the borough have been in the offing for decades, but the council has been unable to progress matters since February 2017.

Pledges to “press” for the development of the much-needed highway to alleviate traffic bottlenecks in the borough feature in the draft Local Plan, which is currently out for consultation.

However, Christchurch Borough Council leaders admitted a significant sum of money would be needed if the project was ever going to materialise.

Cllr Trish Jamieson, deputy leader of the council, said discussions on the idea had been going on for “years and years”.

“It is an aspiration and I can’t see unless we get some fantastic level of funding that it is going to be anything other than an aspiration.

“We are going to have to fight for it.”

In February 2017, Cllr David Flagg, who was then acting leader, said a “lack of any ambition” from Dorset County Council to support a relief road was “letting the residents and businesses of Christchurch down badly”.

Four different routes for the relief road have been long-established, but one has never been pursued beyond a discussion stage. Progress on attempting to finalise any route for the road and secure funding is now likely to fall on the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole unitary authority, which takes over responsibility for highways from April.

County and Borough councillor Lesley Dedman told the Daily Echo the delivery of the road boiled down to finances.

“It has been on the cards for a very long time. Unfortunately Christchurch council has kept debating which route is best when there is only one route which really does work. We have done ourselves no favours.

“As it looks as though we’re going in with Bournemouth and Poole we will try and get money from the local enterprise partnership. We have to keep fighting because it is only a question of money. I think it will happen eventually.”

Dave Barnes, Christchurch council’s strategic director, said: “Christchurch continues to highlight the need for a relief road in order to address the increasing traffic problems in Christchurch.

“We are currently consulting on our Local Plan and invite responses on the proposals within this. The Local Plan includes a commitment that councillors representing Christchurch will continue to press for further development of the relief road proposal, including securing necessary funding.”

The current focus on highways development in the conurbation is around Bournemouth Airport through the BIG road schemes. This initiative has seen millions of pounds poured into work on the Wessex Way, Blackwater Junction, Chapel Gate and Hurn Roundabout.

Highcliffe resident Geoff Bantock submitted his own route to the council for the relief road, which cut through the Avon Valley.

He said no progress will be made until the council selects one route and sets out a yes or no option.

“In the time that has been wasted the traffic has just got worse and there is even more gridlock now,” Mr Bantock said.

“The situation is only going to get worse with more houses, including the 800 homes at Roeshot Hill.

“I have lived here 40 years and this is a problem which is not going to ever go away.”