Reporting Person – Giorgio Framalicco
Following the report considered by the Executive in July 2022, the Executive received an update on the work progressed to date on the Victoria Arch widening scheme. Councillor Forster, Deputy Leader, explained that the new administration had been concerned about the scale of the budget deficit, risks to the Council and the potential significant road closure involved in the scheme. Councillor Forster informed the Executive that a revised scheme was needed which fitted the £115m budget and which reduced the level of disruption to residents. The Executive noted that it was necessary to make decisions on the scheme based on data and evidence post Covid. Design options for the bridge and transport modelling were currently being undertaken and would be presented to the Executive in the New Year in order for the Executive to make evidence-led decisions on the scheme.
Councillor Forster provided an update on the planning applications for the Day Aggregates temporary and permanent access proposals. The Executive was advised that the temporary access proposals included a HGV ban on the majority of York Road, and all of Montgomery Road and Mount Hermon Road, in order to protect residents. It was noted that the permanent access would revert to its current position along the A320.
Following the Council declaring a Climate Change Emergency in 2019, the Executive expressed unease at the potential inclusion of a dual carriageway under the bridge. Councillor Forster advised that it would be necessary to review the transport modelling data before making a decision. The importance of good pedestrian and cycle access through the bridge was also raised.
The Deputy Leader commented that he valued the contribution of Councillor Kemp as Chair of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Task Group and would be working with Councillor Kemp to understand the transport data and bridge options.
The Executive welcomed the update and the positive community engagement around the Day Aggregates goods yard access proposals.
That (i) an update on the transport modelling, design options and funding opportunities be presented to the Executive in the New Year 2023;
(ii) it be noted, the submitted planning applications which seek to secure a temporary access to the aggregates yard from York Road and the use of the current access to the yard from Guildford Road as a permanent access continue to be assessed by the Local Planning Authority and reach a decision to inform the project delivery;
And further to note the resolve made in July 2022:
(iii) the commitment made by the Council and its partners to deliver a replacement bridge project and the risks accepted by the Council in its agreement with Homes England and that significant work has been progressed to date on the project, be noted;
(iv) the additional costs associated with the current designed project based on land acquisitions, utility costs, bridge and highway costs and inflation meaning that further and substantial Government funding is needed before further significant expenditure can be undertaken which would be at the Council’s risk, be noted;
(v) the need for the continuation of high level meetings with Homes England and through them with key partners at the Department for Transport and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in order to secure additional funding for the project be supported; and
(vi) given the likely exposure and scale of risk in committing to further expenditure at this stage, a fundamental review of the project continue in order to:
a. conclude discussions on the availability of additional funding to meet the current project design;
b. review with partners other design options to reduce the overall costs of the project including any proposals which remove the need to lower the road and / or reduce the road from a dual carriageway to a single carriageway;
c. ensure that any redesigned options meet with value for money requirements and achieve sufficient environmental and community benefits envisaged from the project; and
d. reassess highway capacity requirements under Victoria Arch through revisiting the transport modelling work previously undertaken to explore whether, through value engineering, a more cost effective bridge design can be achieved.
Reason: In order to complete the review of the project to assess financial risks and opportunities to the Council in progressing with delivering the Housing Infrastructure Fund project, considering in full the alternatives and seek risk sharing with project partners/ opportunities for further funding bids.