THE future of the Victoria Arch widening scheme in Woking could be decided this month.

Work on the £115 million project was paused in July last year by the recently-elected Liberal Democrats, principally amid fears of spiralling costs and disruption to residents.

At that time the previous administration’s scheme was already running an at least £53m budget deficit and a three-year road closure was being put forward to facilitate replacing the railway bridge and the associated complex highway alterations.

Now the fate of the project’s initial £95m Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) grant, administered by Homes England and linked to the council agreeing to build more housing in the town centre, is scheduled for determination at a board meeting this month.

Homes England, in effect the government funder, is thought highly unlikely to commit to the original figure, and the government has already asked the council for proposals for a much smaller scheme.

The News & Mail understands the revised scheme will not include any replacement railway bridge nor a dual carriageway under the bridge, and is likely to be confined to works thought more in keeping with the capabilities of a small borough council: there is likely to be increased provision for cyclists, a widening of the pavements and some highway works under and around the bridge, and a general sprucing up of an unappealing bridge environment.

Any further funding – and there remains the risk that the government may decline to offer anything beyond the money used for the initial works and investigations – is thought likely to depend on the council’s latest submission having made a sound business case for further investment in the scheme.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader of the council Will Forster said: “The Lib Dems and I always had serious concerns about the Victoria Arch project.  

“The former Conservative administration was irresponsible to start a project with such a huge budget deficit, where the council shouldered all of the risk and would result in a long road closure impacting people in Woking for years.

“Hopefully, the council is in the final stages of negotiating a revised Victoria Arch scheme with Homes England.”