Major road scheme pre-application pipeline lengthens

Two more major road projects have joined the pre-application queue for consideration under the nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) regime in the past fortnight.

Motorways: more schemes join pre-application queue
Motorways: more schemes join pre-application queue

According to the Planning Inspectorate’s (PINS’s) online register of SNIP Projects, Highways England expects to submit a development consent order (DCO) application for the A1 Birtley to Coal House improvement scheme in the North East in the second or third quarters of next year.

The 4.2-kilometre scheme involves widening a section of the A1 south of Gateshead to three lanes, with extra lanes between junctions, and replacement of a railway bridge. The agency said the scheme would help support economic growth, especially in Gateshead’s Team Valley Employment Zone.

The agency has also notified PINS that it plans to submit a DCO application for the A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme in the last quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

The scheme includes a dual carriageway road from the port entrance through the Rimrose Valley and upgrading a section of the A5758 Broom’s Cross Road link to the M57/M58 junction on the east side of Liverpool.

Highways England’s analysis of a consultation held last winter indicated that its preferred route, announced last month, was supported by 31 per cent of the 2,229 respondents, against 44 per cent favouring a less expensive option that the agency said would provide less capacity to deal with growth.

Once the applications are submitted, PINS will have 28 days to review them and decide whether or not to accept them for examination.

Highways England now has 11 projects logged on PINS’s pre-application register, including the £1.6 billion A303 "Stonehenge bypass" scheme in Wiltshire. All but two have submission dates pencilled in between now and early 2019.

For projects that have already undergone examination, a decision is due on Transport for London’s Silvertown Tunnel proposal next month, following a delay to allow further consideration of air quality issues. A ministerial decision is due in December on proposed improvements to junction 10 of the M20 in Kent.

Highways England told Planning this month that it plans to submit up to 30 DCO applications for roads projects between now and 2020. Commentators have warned that the surge could cause workflow problems for PINS and the Department for Transport civil servants responsible for advising ministers on whether to accept or reject DCO recommendations.

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