The Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport is asked to give approval to take the Pencester Road, Dover Bus Contraflow scheme through the stages of scheme development and delivery and specifically for:
Under decision 23/00027 the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport agreed to accept the DfT BSIP offer of £18,985,735, for delivery of agreed initiatives, in the year 23/24. To ensure that the Pencester Road scheme as one of the BSIP initiatives can progress to time, a further decision is required for approval to plan and spend the £3m DFT BSIP funding that has been allocated for the Pencester Road scheme.
The proposed bus contraflow in Pencester Road aims to support and enhance the upcoming Dover Fastrack bus service that is due to become operational in Spring 2024. The HIF funded Dover Fastrack project has been developed to mitigate the traffic impacts of the major housing allocations of the Whitfield Urban Expansion (5,750 Homes) and Connaught Barracks (500 Homes), by providing a high quality and reliable public transport service to link the new developments to the Town Centre and Dover Priory Station. The Pencester Road scheme could not be afforded within the HIF allocation, so BSIP funding is allowing this scheme to be progressed.
Part of the proposed northbound Fastrack route within the Town Centre, uses the existing A20 Townwall Street, between York Street and Woolcomber Street. This route experiences a high volume of traffic heading to the Port of Dover and leads to regular congestion and delays along this part of the highway network. This is further compounded when ferries are delayed at the Port, leading to the implementation of Operation Tap and Operation Brock.
The use of the A20 for the northbound route is not ideal as journey times cannot be guaranteed, and alternative options to improve the journey time reliability were considered as part of the original route planning for the service. This identified that an alternative route via a northbound bus contraflow lane in Pencester Road with bus priority signals at the Biggin Street and Maison Dieu junctions would provide significant benefits in reliability and customer confidence in the service. It would also allow the bus operator additional flexibility with current services and provide an opportunity of re-opening a bus service to the Port of Dover.
A downside of the improvements is that it will lead to some loss of on street parking, disabled bays and taxi bays. Mitigation for loss of parking will be reviewed following completion of occupancy surveys but initial discussions with Dover District Council has identified that local car parks have capacity to mitigate loss of the on-street parking and disabled bays.
Options (other options considered but discarded)
Several scheme options were considered as follows:
i. Fastrack routed via the A256 Priory Road, Ladywell, Park Street and the A256 Maison Dieu Road – this was considered to provide little or no benefit to the A20 route as was also prone to congestion and delays.
ii. Reverse one-way in Pencester Road, so all traffic travels Northbound – Due to the existing one-way routes within the town centre, vehicles, including some buses, wishing to access Pencester Road would need to travel further and use either Castle Street or the A20. Whilst helping the Fastrack service, this would be inconvenient for most road users and would add unnecessary congestion on the A20 and/or within the Market Square area of Dover.
iii. Reversal of one-way in Pencester Road with southbound bus contraflow lane – This was discarded for similar reasons to ii) above.
iv. Pencester Road made bus only in both directions – This was discarded for similar reasons to ii) above and access to Pencester Road car park and for business deliveries would still need to be maintained.
How the proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future 2022-2026: (https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/corporate-policies/our-council-strategy
The scheme supports the priorities for Kent by improving the highway infrastructure to provide more reliable journey times and improved public transport links, accessibility and to support Kent business and housing growth and encourage economic activity in one of the more deprived areas in Kent.
This scheme will also support KCC’s commitment to ensure residents have access to viable and attractive travel options that allow them to make safe, efficient and more sustainable journeys. This scheme will improve connectivity of the proposed route between the key transport hub of Dover Priory Station, the town centre and new housing being built in Whitfield. In addition the use of Zero emission buses means reduced transport CO2 emissions and reduced air pollution in the area.
The estimated project cost for the Pencester Road Scheme based on the outline design is £2,300,000 including a risk allowance of £700,000. This will be fully funded from the capital element of the BSIP funding of £18,985,735, which is split as £12,454,840 capital, for which £3m has been allocated for the Pencester Road scheme, and £6,530,895 revenue.
A condition for all BSIP funding is that it needs to be spent, and the full BSIP programme delivered by 31 March 2024, unless agreed otherwise with the DfT through their Project Adjustment Request (PAR) process. KCC is monitoring spend and delivery timescales to determine if and when this process may be required.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for BSIP funding does raise the potential that KCC would be responsible for overspend should this occur and may incur abortive costs should schemes not progress fully. The ongoing relationship with the DfT and the PAR process is in place to mitigate this risk.
The funding has been released by DfT to KCC and has been allocated to the budget line.
Decision type: Key
Decision status: For Determination
Notice of proposed decision first published: 31/10/2023
Decision due: Not before 6th Dec 2023 by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Reason: To allow the required 28 day notice period under Executive Decision arrangements
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Lead director: Haroona Chughtai
Department: Growth, Environment & Transport
The Proposed decision will considered at the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on 15 November 2023
Financial implications: As detailed above
Legal implications: There are no legal implications associated with this scheme.
Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An EqIA was published on 28 September 2023. It has been identified that some groups will be negatively affected from the scheme, but these are being reviewed with surveys being undertaken to provide options for mitigation. It has been identified that some groups will be negatively affected during construction, but these can be mitigated with informative on-site signage, proactive measures by the contractor and good stakeholder communications. Overall the scheme has a positive impact. Data Protection implications: N/A