HIGHWAYS and NHS bosses will work together to tackle congestion around Royal Bournemouth Hospital after councillors decided to scale back the controversial Wessex Fields development.

BCP Council’s cabinet agreed to progress a reduced version of the A338 link road ending at the boundary of the Wessex Fields site.

The original planning application allows the link road to join Deansleigh Road behind Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

It was approved by Bournemouth council’s planning committee in January, despite widespread opposition.

Its then leader, Conservative John Beesley, said the road would “unlock” the site for a new science and technology employment park.

But after taking control of the new BCP Council in May, the ruling coalition reviewed the project.

And ahead of Monday’s cabinet meeting, it announced its intention to shelve the second phase of the project – a northbound connection via a flyover.

Conservative councillors said this would create a “road to nowhere” and meant the council would miss out on a “once in a generation opportunity”.

BCP has said it will now work with the hospital to address congestion in the area, with a public “engagement” event due to take place next month.

Options could include a controlled access road linking the A338 to the hospital, along with better cycling and public transport access, the council says.

Speaking before the cabinet discussed the issue on Monday, campaigners called on the council to scrap the whole Wessex Fields road scheme.

Wendy Sharp, Holdenhurst Village Parish Meeting chairman, said the original planning process had been a “sham of misinformation”.

Despite this, councillors agreed to push ahead with the scaled-back scheme to build the southbound link road as far as the boundary of the Wessex Fields site.

Speaking at the meeting, cabinet member for regeneration, councillor Mark Howell, said it was “the most difficult decision” the coalition had had to make so far.

“The council has very severe financial constraints – we don’t want to be spending money we don’t have – nor do we want to create a rat run there.

“Our aim will be to make this as sustainable as possible.”

Although most cabinet members approved the approach, environment portfolio holder Cllr Felicity Rice, who had campaigned against the original application, voted against the continuation of any of it.

“This is far better than the hugely damaging previous scheme but there are still elements that don’t fit with my principles,” she said.

Plans for a public consultation on ideas for the development of the site and to look at improving routes for sustainable travel in the area were approved unanimously.