The Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport is asked to give approval to accept the capital grant from Ebbsfleet Development Company and to take the Bath Street scheme through the stages of development and delivery as indicated on the proposed decision sheet attached at Appendix A and specifically for:
i. Approval for KCC to enter into a funding agreement with EDC subject to the approval of the Corporate Director of Finance, Corporate & Strategic Services
ii. Approval to undertake the detailed design and surveys for the Bath Street Scheme.
iii. Approval to progress all statutory approvals or consents required for the schemes, including any transfer of land and rights;
iv. Approval to carry out any additional consultation required for the scheme;
v. Approval to enter into construction contracts as necessary for the delivery and future maintenance of the scheme subject to a review of the procurement strategy by the Capital Officers Group;
vi. Approval for any further decisions required to allow the scheme to proceed through to delivery to be taken by the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment & Transport under the Officer Scheme of Delegations following prior consultation with the Cabinet Member.
This fully funded scheme proposes to implement a key Fastrack link between the Northfleet Embankment East development and Gravesham Town Centre in the form of a contraflow bus lane in Bath Street.
The scheme is part of the overall Fastrack programme, which comprises 28 individual projects across Dartford, Gravesham and Ebbsfleet. Fastrack operates via congestion-free routes across a 40km network extending from Dartford to Gravesham. It is a combination of dedicated Fastrack busways, bus priority lanes and on-street running with priority at all signalled junctions.
The purpose of the scheme is to improve journey times for Fastrack passengers and facilitate additional bus stops for existing residents and those from new developments such as Clifton Slipways, The Charter and Northfleet Embankment.
EDC and KCC have considered options for the scale of the Bath Street scheme within the business case for the project. The following options were considered:
· No implementation of the Fastrack A Route extension
· Extension of the Fastrack A Route with routing via Overcliffe
· (Chosen option) Extension of Fastrack Route A, including the road improvement schemes and the routing of the network via West Street and Bath Street.
The chosen option will reduce journey times for passengers and provide a short walk to access the Fastrack service for occupants and workers at the Northfleet Embankment East, Clifton Slipways and The Charter developments.
In addition to the expected journey time benefits, the appraisal exercise identified other potential beneficial effects that the scheme may generate including:
· Additional demand from new developments served by the new route.
· Operating cost savings derived from the journey time savings
Implementation of the scheme will support the Council in meeting its Strategic outcome for “Kent Communities to feel the benefits of economic growth by being in work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life”. This will be achieved through the projects supporting continued operation of key transport networks in Dartford and Gravesham, as well as helping support growth by enabling new residential and commercial development.
The key priorities set out in the County Council’s Integrated Transport Strategy ‘Delivering Growth without Gridlock’ in terms of providing additional highway capacity, improving accessibility and reducing congestion will also be supported through the delivery of the project. The scheme will set out to provide improved growth and economic prosperity through having an efficient highway and transport infrastructure.
The scheme also aligns with ‘Bus Back Better’ the Department for Transport’s National Bus Strategy which encourages ‘significant increases in bus priority’ through investment in bus lanes and traffic signal priority for buses (Chapter 3, Page 46).
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: For Determination
Notice of proposed decision first published: 13/07/2021
Decision due: Not before 11th Aug 2021 by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Reason: To allow normal 28 day publication period
Gravesham Joint Transport Board (JTB) were provided with a report for information at the March 2021 meeting, with a letter also sent to Cllr John Burden.
Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee endorsed the proposed decision at its meeting on 29 June 2021.
Local Members were consulted via the Fastrack advisory board.
Financial implications: The scheme will be fully funded through a capital grant from Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) that has been approved as a separate future year commitment to EDC by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is providing KCC with a grant of £5.52m between 2020/21 and 2022/23 to deliver the scheme. Conditions of the grant agreement include taking the Fastrack development designated S106 contributions from Northfleet Embankment East development as a contribution (circa £0.99m) but without risk to KCC if the funding does not come forward. There is no revenue or capital exposure to KCC in the delivery of this project and the project estimate includes sufficient risk allowance. KCC Officer time required for the delivery of the programme will be capitalised.
Legal implications: KCC will be entering into a funding agreement with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation detailing the conditions of the grant funding. No further legal implications have been identified.
Equalities implications: An initial equalities impact assessment has been carried out for the scheme. This identified no long-term adverse impacts or discrimination against any person with a protected characteristic. In addition, those members of the public who regularly use or rely exclusively on public transport should experience more reliable journey times by better functioning of Fastrack route junctions.