Incomplete motorways

  • Back to the roads page

  • M23 (Hooley to Crawley)

    Giles Turnbull asked:

    Why does the M23 stop where it does - ie, about a mile or so into London from the M25? I'm not saying that it should be extended, I'm just curious as to why more of it never got built.

    Chris Marshall writes:

    I recently got my hands on a scan of an old A to Z map of south London, showing the ``Proposed M23'' route. It should have started at Streatham on the A205 South Circular and run out across Mitcham Common. Basically it was shelved because the residents of Beddington and Wallington opposed, presumably as it would have involved the demolition of most of their houses. I'll put the scan on my site some time soon.

    Anthony Frost writes:

    The M23 extension was formally abandoned in the early 1990s. It had, however, been scratched from plans much earlier than that. I have seen an old A to Z of London which showed the proposed route of the M23 northern extension from Hooley, where it now terminates, to Streatham. The proposed M23 ceased being showed on maps from the early to mid-1980s. The route would have taken a line from Hooley, curved in a loop to cross the Chipstead Valley, near or through the village of Chipstead, on a 120 foot 4-lane viaduct (local information). It would then have made its way immediately west of Woodmansterne and descended into a deep cutting that would have destroyed hundreds of houses in the area between Wallington and Beddington (up until recently the Ministry of Transport - and its descendants - owned many of the houses and let them out). It would have then had a junction with the A232 before crossing close behind an ancient church and onto open wasteland and an industrial area before the next planned junction at the existing roundabout between the A236 & A237. The route would have then paralleled a railway until it reached Streatham - up until 1994/5 the necessary strip of land next to the railway had been formally safeguarded but has now been developed for residential use. It is thought locally that the route would have finished at the A205 South Circular nearby although the A to Z failed to show the route beyond the centre of Streatham. The reasons that it was never built are not formally known to me, but I would assume the enormous cost (viaduct, cutting, property and land purchase), environmental impact (a large concrete viaduct across a very quiet, picturesque valley and a 6 lane motorway cutting with vertical concrete walls), and aggressive local opposition along the entire route sealed its fate. The road that it would have replaced, the A23, would have benefited greatly. It was, and still is, very congested along its entire length from Hooley through Coulsdon, Purley, Croydon, Norbury and Streatham and into London. Since the formal abandonment there have been many schemes mooted to relieve the A23 including flyovers, underpasses, & grade-separated junctions but nothing has and will happen.

    For many years the only formal scheme has been an A23 Coulsdon Relief Road which will bypass the town centre with a 1 to 1.5 mile diversion. It has been on, cancelled, on again, cancelled again etc, etc. In 1997 it was formally placed in the Highways Agency road-building programme and was the only scheme in Greater London to survive the cutbacks in 1998/99. Had the Highways Agency remained in control of the trunk roads in Greater London construction of the Relief Road would have just begun (4th Quarter, 2001); however all London's trunk roads were handed over to Transport for London (TfL) and all unconstructed schemes were put on ice. (Incidentally, this handover of responsibility was the reason why the A40(M) became the A40, the M41 became the A3220, and the A102(M) became the A102 (south) and the A12 (north)). Within the last 2 months [time of writing: November 2001] London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, (vehemently anti-car & anti-road) announced that the scheme would go ahead in a modified format with emphasis on pedestrians and cyclist facilities in the replaced piece of road. It is the only new length of road that is planned for the whole of the Greater London Trunk Network. Construction is planned to start next year with an opening in 2004. It will cost £30 to £45 million. The Highways Agency are also formulating plans to alter the existing flying junction limited access terminal at Junction 7 to form a roundabout so that full access can be gained to/from A23 in both directions and remove the current bridges to nowhere that still exist as monuments to unfulfilled plans. Perhaps then the ghost of the M23 Northern Extension can be laid to rest.

    Stuart Mitchell writes:

    I've got a 1977 Road Atlas with a proposed route for the M23. It follows the A23 to the west of it, and appears to go towards the South Circular Road. But it never made it!

    A similar plan was made for the M606 in Bradford; it was planned to go to the inner ring road.

    So, I wonder if there are any other motorways which should have had logical endings? Here are a few suggestions:

  • M53 (or M531) - to Stoke to meet the M6?
  • M56 - Bangor?
  • M65 - Tadcaster (I'd heard)
  • M66 - Newcastle (They were serious about this! I remember seeing a planning application to build this right over the Yorkshire Dales! Not so good really.)
  • M11 - Humber Bridge?
  • M54 - Shrewsbury?
  • M10 - South Mimms?
  • M18 - York?
  • M27 - Folkestone?
  • M57 - Southport?
  • M67 - Sheffield?

  • Back to the top

  • M62 (Liverpool to somewhere near Hull)

    Stuart Mitchell writes:

    The M62 was due to start in the centre of Liverpool; instead, it begins at the Ring Road where it meets the A5080. Plans to drive it into the centre were shelved some time ago when it was agreed that it was too expensive. I think the same was true at the Hull end.

    Jim Chappell continues:

    The M62 does not go to Hull: it goes to somewhere near Hull. They could never be bothered to finish it. It joins the A63 and then goes to Hull.

    I've just looked it up on the map and it really does just stop in the middle of nowhere somewhere between North Cave and Newport (not the one in Wales).

    I used to live in Hull and it really used to annoy me that the motorway just stopped. It smacked of someone down south in one of the ministries just saying ``Finish the M62? Nothing that way anyway - just stop when you feel like it.''

    Couldn't even be bothered to finish it when the Humber Bridge was built.

  • Back to the top

  • Back to the roads page