Decision Maker: Deputy Leader of the Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The purpose of the decision is to agree the Council’s response to consultation on a proposed amendment to the Development Consent Order (planning permission) for the A14 improvement scheme, to change the status of the stretch of the A14 between the M11 at Girton and new Ellington junction and the A1 between Alconbury and Brampton from all-purpose trunk road to motorway. The consultation deadline is 28 February 2019. When the response is sent to the Planning Inspectorate it will make clear that it is provisional at this stage and subject to completion of the Council’s normal procedural requirements.
The Council has previously supported the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme.
Highways England has made an application to the Secretary of State to alter the Development Consent Order. The Planning Inspectorate will consider the responses received and advise the Secretary of State for Transport. It is anticipated the Secretary of State will make a decision this year. If approved, the new motorway status will apply to the road once the current improvement works are complete.
Highways England’s application to amend the Development Consent Order (DCO) describes it as a non-material change to the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme Development Consent Order 2016. The changes principally affect the regulations governing the use of the roads, allowing the introduction and enforcement of motorway regulations including the prohibition of certain types of vehicle and the use of Variable Mandatory Speed Limits as a tool to manage traffic flow when appropriate. It should not, therefore, make any alterations to the existing provisions and requirements in the DCO which Highways England will need to fulfil in delivering the A14 Improvement Scheme.
The current consultation does not propose to amend the design of A14 Improvement Scheme which is already being built to a very high specification. It will also not impact on the delivery or opening of the new road; Highways England state the road is on schedule to open to traffic by December 2020. However, signage will need to be changed from those with a green background (for a trunk road) to blue (motorway) and the road number will alter to A14(M).
Whilst motorway status would preclude some slow road users, such as cyclists and farm vehicles, access to non-motorway traffic and local land owners is provided via the local access road and non-motorised user routes. Therefore the change in status should not affect accessibility for any road users and local land owners.
Highways England predict the change in status would result in no more than a 2% increase in traffic, including HCVs resulting from a small transfer of traffic from local roads to the motorway, helping get the right traffic on the right roads. On this basis, Highways England considers there would be no change in noise levels and air quality. Advice from Environmental Health officers confirms that any increase in noise and air quality would be imperceptible.
Highways England claim motorways are twice as safe as A-road dual carriageways and six times safer than single-carriageway roads and that England’s motorways are amongst the world’s safest roads. With motorway status Highways England would have the ability to vary mandatorily the speed limit to improve traffic flow efficiency and safety around incidents, which may deliver benefits to the local and national economy, and local residents by keeping traffic on the most appropriate roads and out of villages and parts of Cambridge, and in terms of noise and air quality for these residents through improved safety and more consistent journey times. Addressing congestion and improving traffic flow on the A14 is in line with recommended actions in the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP).
To submit the following response to the Planning Inspectorate:
South Cambridgeshire District Council supports the proposed amendment to the Development Consent Order (DCO) to amend the status of the A14 between the M11 at Girton and the new Ellington junction and the A1 between Alconbury and Brampton from all-purpose trunk road to motorway.
The Council recognises that the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme is already designed and being built to a high specification and that slow vehicles, which would be prohibited from using a motorway, are accommodated by the local access road and provision for non-motorised users.
It is also recognised that the changes would provide Highways England more control over traffic speeds to further improve safety for road users and achieve more consistent journey times. This may deliver benefits to the local and national economy, and local residents by keeping traffic on the most appropriate roads and out of villages and parts of Cambridge, and in terms of noise and air quality for these residents. Addressing congestion and improving traffic flow on the A14 is in line with recommended actions in the Council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP).
It is understood that the proposed amendment to the DCO is a non-material change that would not alter the existing provisions and requirements in the DCO which Highways England will need to fulfil in delivering the A14 Improvement Scheme.
On this basis and for the reasons set out above, the Council supports the application for a change to motorway status.
To ensure the interests of South Cambridgeshire District Council are represented.
Publication date: 01/03/2019
Date of decision: 01/03/2019
Effective from: 09/03/2019