WORK on a crucial £5m road junction finally started yesterday up to five years after people were told it would be built as part of a massive housing development.

Creating the new Sowerby Gateway junction, near Thirsk will cause traffic chaos around the A168 and B1448 entry and exit slip roads which are both being shut down over the next nine months.

“It is long, long overdue,” said Councillor Mark Robson, leader of Hambleton district and Chairman of Sowerby parish council. “It is a huge project and there will be traffic issues but once it is finished it will make life so much easier. The costs have increased dramatically, originally the plan was for a two way junction and we did press for an improved multi directional junction but there have been long delays”

It is being built as part of the Sowerby Gateway development, a three phase plan to build over 900 houses including hundreds of affordable homes and a school. Originally residents said they were told the road junction would be built before any houses, but the scheme has been dogged by delays and controversy with different developers working on the site.

Hundreds of houses have now been built, a school is due, but plans to build 264 affordable homes as part of the 640 house third phase of the scheme were scrapped last year. Developers Taylor Wimpey/Linden Homes said the site would not be viable if they had to provide 40 per cent affordable homes because of the rising cost of infrastructure including the £5m junction.

Sowerby parish councillor Steve Hoyland said:”People are pleased that it is finally going ahead, but there is widespread disillusionment with the whole scheme and disappointment with the democratic process. This has been a major debacle for local people, there was a widespread view encouraged by a previous council leader that the junction would be built before any homes and that turned out to be total fantasy.".

There was no response to requests for a comment from Taylor Wimpey.