Work to build the Banwell bypass has restarted just over a month since the contractors who had been due to construct the road walked away from the project.

Building a bypass around the tiny but congested village of Banwell was first proposed in 1927 and construction was finally due to begin in May. But contractors Alun Griffiths, who were already on site carrying out environmental enabling works, unexpectedly downed tools and pulled out of the £56.5m contract in March.

Now North Somerset Council has said it has restarted those works, which include new planting, fencing and some vegetation clearance, and that new contractors will be on site within weeks.

Council leader Mike Bell said: “Residents will start to see people on site around Banwell over the next few weeks with new contractors  undertaking the construction preparation works that Alun Griffiths failed to progress back in February. These works demonstrate North Somerset’s commitment to the Banwell bypass, as we continue preparing the area ready for main construction to begin. 

“Over the past few weeks, we have had several positive conversations with contracting firms and are making progress on our next steps towards finding a new construction contractor to take on the main build. We’re confident in the quality of the design and what we can deliver and, by working closely with our partners at Homes England, we still hope to get spades in the ground this year.”

Banwell has been plagued by uniquely terrible traffic since at least the mid-eighteenth century. Today, two A-roads funnel traffic into the village which at one point has to go down a single track lane between houses and the village bakery.

The bypass was granted planning permission in March 2023 and a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of the land needed for the scheme was held on Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier in the summer. The council signed off on the contract in November, which was a “pain/gain” contract designed to encourage the contractors to deliver the scheme on time.

After an intervention from local MP John Pensrose, the government approved the orders “in the nick of time” in January, giving the final green light needed.

The scheme as a whole is set to cost £89.2m, when factoring in other costs such as consultants, utilities, and contingency money alongside the £56.5m contract to build the road. Homes England has provided £77.3m of this money, with North Somerset Council contributing £11.9m.