MAJOR plans to re-route a notoriously busy stretch of the A12 are in doubt after hundreds of millions of pounds in funding were withdrawn.

Essex County Council has confirmed £272million of government cash will no longer be available for the proposals to move the A12 southwards between junctions 25 at Marks Tey and 23 at Kelvedon.

It was thought the road would need to be diverted to make space for the proposed West Tey garden community.

But a planning inspector says the new settlement of 24,000 homes is “undeliverable”.

Essex County Council secured £272million from the Government in March on the basis the West Tey scheme got the go-ahead.

But the inspector’s ruling means the cash will now be withdrawn and issued to other projects around the country.

A County Hall spokesman said: “The Government carefully considered the deliverability of the proposed garden community on the Colchester/Braintree border when deciding to announce that our bid had been successful in March. The planning inspector came to a different conclusion and Essex County Council will no longer receive the £272million funding.

“A key reason for supporting plans for new garden communities across the county is that it allows the council to secure investment for infrastructure before houses are built.

“Our success in gaining Government funding into the county demonstrated this.

“It’s therefore disappointing that the A12 funding will now not come forward.”

The withdrawal of funding has been welcomed by campaigners, with Better Braintree – Together co-founder Rosie Pearson admitting there would be “huge relief” among residents in rural areas.

She said: “The re-routing of the A12 to accommodate thousands more houses was always an unpopular waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Villagers and those living in the area proposed for the re-route can breathe easy again.

“However, what a wasted opportunity this has been to bid for money for infrastructure the area needs rather than to move a road to accommodate a vanity project.”

Highways England held a public consultation on proposals to re-route the A12 last year.

It presented several options which would have allowed the road to be extended to three or four lanes in both directions.

A spokesman said: “We have now started to assess our position and options and we aim to announce the preferred route for junction 23 to 25 later this year.

“The route we announce will be based on several factors, including affordability, environmental impact, journey times, complexity of build, feedback from the public and the recent advice by the planning inspector on the joint Local Plan.”