869: One early highway decision and one late one
It was going to be ‘highway Friday’ on 17 July 2020, with three such projects due to be decided that day. In the event at most one will be – one was decided a day early (A19 Downhill Lane – see below) and one was delayed for a further four months (A303 Stonehenge). The third, A303 Sparkford, could still be decided on the appointed day.
Here are the facts and figures for the Downhill Lane project:
- Project: an upgrade of the A19 / A1290 junction in South Tyneside, one junction south of Testo’s junction that has already got a DCO;
- Promoter: National Highways;
- Application made: 25 January 2019;
- One inspector, Kevin Gleeson (his fourth) – it coincided with his fifth, the Southampton to London Pipeline;
- 12 relevant representations, very low;
- 3 written representations, very low;
- 117 questions in the first round, very low these days;
- No compulsory acquisition hearings, one issue specific hearing and one open floor hearing – very low if not the lowest;
- One Local Impact Report, jointly from Sunderland and South Tyneside;
- Examination five months and four days, recommendation exactly three months, decision one day less than three months;
- 538 days from application to decision, just under 18 months, above average; and
- 245 documents on the Planning Inspectorate web page on the date of the decision (not including the relevant representations), very low if not the lowest.
There are hardly any notes from the decision letter, which gives the project a pretty clean bill of health.
It is the first DCO to make substantive amendments to works in another DCO (but not the first to make any amendments, that was Millbrook Power in respect of Rookery South). The other DCO is also National Highways’s (Testo’s Junction) so they weren’t ‘hostile’ amendments like the Millbrook ones.
Although the project was in the Green Belt, it was considered ‘local transport infrastructure’, so didn’t need to demonstrate very special circumstances.
That’s about it. It’s the 12th National Highways (/Highways Agency) DCO.
This is the 87th DCO to be granted. We must continue to wait for three decisions to be made on the same day.
The A303 Stonehenge delay was announced via a written ministerial statement, which can be found here. The reason given is the recent archaeological find close by, reported here.
In other news, the government has tabled draft statutory instruments that remove electricity storage (other than pumped storage) from the Planning Act 2008 regime. It has also published the outcome of the consultation into doing so.
Document inspection modifications have been made to the Town and Country Planning regime and the Strategic Environmental Assessment regime but not yet the infrastructure planning regime.
Finally, the East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO projects have got new preliminary meeting dates of 16 September 2020 and (if necessary) 6 October 2020. That means all three preliminary meetings that were cancelled due to coronavirus have been rescheduled.