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Chancellor sets transport priorities with fast track ‘growth projects’ list

Peter Stonham
04 October 2022
Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng

 

Greater clarity about the Government’s transport priorities has emerged from chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s controversial ‘Mini Budget’, focusing on achieving economic growth as the over-riding priority, including a mission to fast-track more than 100 road, rail and local transport projects by streamlining the assessment, approval and planning process. The list of schemes was set out in a “Plan for Growth”, published alongside the Chancellor’s statement.

As well as indicating where transport expenditure will be concentrated in the coming two years ahead of the next General Election, the Chancellor’s proposals have provoked concern and opposition about the way the decision-making and implementation about transport policies and projects is set to change, and what this means for those initiatives not achieving a boost to GDP – for example, those relating to decarbonisation, promotion of active travel and Levelling Up.

The 100-plus projects identified as ready to implement (see below) will be accelerated as fast as possible, with the aim of starting construction on most of them by the end of 2023, Kwasi Kwarteng said.

Presence on the acceleration list did not guarantee funding, planning consent or approval for other regulatory or necessary permission processes, said the Government. It also added that “the list is non-exhaustive of all projects which may benefit from acceleration.”

The Government has promised to support those local authorities or agencies who are the delivery leads for the selected schemes in achieving the intended acceleration.

According to the DfT, “the plans aim to reduce the burden of environmental assessments, reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process and reforming habitats and species regulations, while still protecting individual rights and environmental needs”.

The Government will make the changes to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects process through amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This will enable major infrastructure developments in England and Wales to bypass normal local planning requirements (LTT 30 Aug).

The Growth Plan includes 86 road schemes, among them controversial plans to upgrade eight miles of the A303 near Stonehenge, including a two-mile tunnel.

The nine rail projects in the list include East West Rail and the Transpennine Route Upgrade. Local transport schemes include West Midlands Sprint Phase 2, West Yorkshire Mass Transit and the South Yorkshire Supertram Renewal.

There are also expected implications for transport from the new ‘Investment Zones’, which the Chancellor promised would offer “generous, targeted and time-limited tax cuts for businesses, backing them to increase productivity and create new jobs”. These areas would benefit from further liberalised planning rules to release more land for housing and commercial development, and reforms to increase the speed of delivering development, Kwarteng said.

One of the emerging political issues from the plans is their relationship of the approach to commitments to address global warming and achieve net zero. And, also, where they would sit within wider transport policy, about which the approach of the new transport secretary Anne- Marie Trevelyan is yet to be clear.

A DfT spokesperson stressed to LTT the economic dimension. “We are building a new era for Britain and unleashing our potential for growth by targeting more than 100 rail and road schemes for acceleration,” they said. “By reducing unnecessary burdens on planning processes and speeding up infrastructure, we can give our economy the freedom to boost growth.”

There has been mixed reaction to the plans amongst transport authorities, with some seeking to relate their own priorities to the Government’s. For example, chair of England’s Economic Heartland, Cllr Richard Wenham, welcomed the Government’s commitment to prioritise and accelerate a number of transport infrastructure projects in the region. This includes road schemes in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire, alongside Cambridge South Station and East West Rail.

“EEH has consistently made the case that East West Rail – delivered in full to Bedford, Cambridge and Aylesbury – will transform our region’s economic potential,” said Wenham. “It is about sustainably unlocking greater employment and educational opportunities for the region’s workforce and making sure businesses that are here – or are planning to invest here – have access to commercial space and staff to help them grow their business.”

Cllr Steven Broadbent, chair of the East West Main Line Partnership, also welcomed the inclusion of East West Rail on the list of major infrastructure projects. Businesses in the region had “told us for our Building Better Connections report, published  this week, its delivery – in full to Aylesbury, Bedford and Cambridge – cannot come soon enough.”

Andy Street, West Midlands mayor also welcomed the Government’s plans. “The Government today has shown real ambition for growth and a clear commitment to the West Midlands – putting our region at the front of the queue for investment and project delivery here on the ground.”

He said the WMCA had been asked by the Government to lead and co-ordinate the setting up of the new investment zones in the region. The authority would now work closely with local councils and other partners to co-ordinate a regional response setting out proposed locations and specific projects within them, said Street.

“This is great news and will result in local residents and businesses benefitting from lower taxes, faster development and improved economic prospects in the weeks, months and years ahead.

“We have also received a tremendous vote of confidence in our infrastructure plans with the exciting news that a number of vital regional transport projects will be fast tracked – so we can expect diggers in the ground on the majority of them by the end of 2023.”

‘Fast-track’ infrastructure projects

Roads

1. M27 Junction 8

2. A417 Air Balloon

3. M54-M6 Link Road

4. A164/Jock’s Lodge Junction Improvement Scheme

5. Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway A167 (M)

6. A1237 York Outer Ring Road Dualling Phase 1

7. A140 Long Stratton Bypass

8. A34 MRN Cheadle – Handforth Improvement Plan Phase 1

9. A350 Chippenham Bypass Improvements – Phase 4 & 5

10. A382 Drumbridges to Newton Abbot

11. A4123 Birchley Island

12. A500 Dualling

13. A511 Growth Corridor

14. A59 Kex Gill

15. A595 Grizebeck Bypass

16. A614/A6097 Corridor Scheme

17. North Hykeham Relief Road

18. A38 Bromsgrove Route Enhancement Programme

The Growth Plan 2022 35

19. A3102 Swindon Safer Road Scheme

20. A186 Tyne and Wear Safer Road Scheme

21. A35 Weymouth Safer Road Scheme

22. A165 Scarborough Safer Road Scheme

23. A13 London Safer Road Scheme

24. A3056 Isle of Wight Safer Road Scheme

25. A5038 Liverpool Safer Road Scheme

26. A2010 Brighton Safer Road Scheme

27. A625 Derbyshire Safer Road Scheme

28. A35 Devon Safer Road Scheme

29. A6022 Ipswich South Yorkshire Safer Road Scheme

30. A586 Blackpool Safer Road Scheme

31. A1156 Ipswich Safer Road Scheme

32. A6042 Manchester Safer Road Scheme

33. A5183 Elstree Safer Road Scheme

34. A4030 Smethwick Safer Road Scheme

35. A25 Surrey Safer Road Scheme

36. A6130 Nottingham Safer Road Scheme

37. A4158 Oxford Safer Road Scheme

38. A104 Epping Safer Road Scheme

39. A113 Brentwood Safer Road Scheme

40. A19 Selby Safer Road Scheme

41. A2047 Portsmouth Safer Road Scheme

42. A23 Croydon Safer Road Scheme

43. A3025 Southampton Safer Road Scheme

44. A361 Devon Safer Road Scheme

45. A38 Devon Safer Road Scheme

46. A609 Nottingham Safer Road Scheme

47. A420 Oxford Safer Road Scheme

48. A579 Bolton Safer Road Scheme

49. A676 Bolton Safer Road Scheme

50. A4165 Oxford Safer Road Scheme

51. A432 Bristol Safer Road Scheme

52. A5105 Morecambe Safer Road Scheme

53. A6 Preston Safer Road Scheme

54. A41 Birkenhead Safer Road Scheme

55. A439 Stratford Safer Road Scheme

56. A60 Leicestershire Safer Road Scheme

57. A5191 Shrewsbury Safer Road Scheme

58. A6200 Nottingham Safer Road Scheme

59. A52 East Midlands Safer Road Scheme

60. A6 Safer Road Scheme

61. A583 Manchester Safer Road Scheme

62. A690 County Durham Safer Road Scheme

63. A57 Liverpool Safer Road Scheme

64. M25 Junction 10

65. M25 Junction 28

66. A66 - Northern Transpennine

67. A303 Stonehenge

68. A428 Black Cat

69. A358 Taunton to Southfields

70. A1 dualling – Morpeth to Ellingham

71. A4174 MOD Roundabout Improvements

72. A22 Corridor Package (East Sussex)

73. A259 (King’s Road) Seafront, Highway Structures (‘Arches’) Renewal Programme

74. A374/A386/A364 Plymouth MRN Phase 1

75. A38 North Somerset (formerly Bristol Airport Access)

76. A4174 Ring Road Junction Improvements

77. A426/A4071 Avon Mill/Hunters Lane Improvements

78. A509 Isham Bypass

79. A582 South Ribble Western Distributor Upgrade

80. A595 Bothel Strategic Improvements

81. A650 Tong Street

82. A689 Corridor Improvements - Wynyard and Hartlepool

83. Brent Cross Highway Structures - Asset Renewal

84. Dawson’s Corner Junction and Stanningley Bypass

85. Gallows Corner Roundabout Improvements

86. Norwich Western Link

Rail

87. Cambridge South Station

88. Northumberland Line

89. White Rose Station

90. Thorpe Park

91. Transpennine Route Upgrade

92. East West Rail

93. Leeds Station Enhancement

94. Manchester Improvements

95. Midland Main Line Phase 3

96. Northern Powerhouse Rail

Decarbonisation

97. Local EV Infrastructure Fund

98. Rapid Charging Fund

Local Transport

99. LCR: Independently Powered Electric Multiple – Unit (IPEMU) – Network Expansion

100. WMCA: Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro Extension

101. WMCA: Sprint Phase 2 (A34 and A45)

102. LCR: Green Bus Routes

103. GMCA: Initial phased delivery of Rochdale-Oldham-Ashton Corridor

104. West Yorkshire Mass Transit

105. TVCA: Middlesbrough Station

106. TVCA: Darlington Station

107. WECA: M32 Sustainable Transport Corridor and Hub

108. WYCA: Leeds City Centre Cycle Improvements

109. WMCA: East Birmingham to Solihull Corridor

110. WMCA: Walk, Cycle and Bus Access: Darlaston and Willenhall Train Stations

111. WMCA: Aldridge Station

112. WECA: Bristol to Bath Sustainable Transport Corridor

113. WMCA: Bus Priority Cross-City Routes

114. SYMCA: Supertram renewal

Senior Transport Officer
Warrington Borough Council
Warrington
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Warrington Borough Council
Warrington
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Senior Transport Officer
Warrington Borough Council
Warrington
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