The Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport is asked to give approval to take the Rennie Drive Fastrack Junction and Bus Lane scheme through the stages of development and delivery and specifically for:
i. Approval to progress all statutory approvals or consents required for the scheme, including any transfer of land and rights;
ii. Approval to carry out any additional consultation required for the scheme;
iii. 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 / Strategic Commissioning;
iv. 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.
Under decision 23/00027 the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport agreedto accept the DfT BSIP offer of £18,985,735, for delivery of agreed initiatives, in the year 23/24. To ensure that the Rennie Drive scheme as one of the BSIP initiatives can progress to time, a further decision is required for approval to plan and spend the DFT BSIP funding.
The Rennie Drive Fastrack Junction and Bus Lane scheme has been prepared to enable Fastrack vehicles to travel directly from the Fastrack only bridge over the A282 along the northern part of Rennie Drive, and vice versa. This will improve the connectivity to the stops to serve the major businesses at the former Littlebrook Power Station site. Currently Fastrack vehicles are forced to do an extended routing between the Fastrack bridge and the site, double back on themselves at the Sainsbury’s roundabout, adding journey time.
The bus lane element will also improve Fastrack operation as currently delays south bound on Rennie Drive, caused by peak hour congestion at the M25 Junction 1A are effecting journey times and service reliability.
Options (other options considered but discarded)
Options were investigated for a roundabout and alternatives for the bus lane but these were discarded as they could not be delivered without extensive third-party land and would be unachievable within the delivery deadlines which are in place as a condition of BSIP funding.
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)
Fastrack Thameside is now exceeding pre-covid levels of bus patronage and leading the Covid bus recovery in the UK. Fastrack’s ambition for electrification is to further increase modal shift to electric public transport from private car use.
Use of Zero emission buses means reduced transport CO2 emissions and reduced air pollution in the Thameside area. Dartford Homes Gardens bus corridor is the third worst for severity of air pollution in Kent and Medway, therefore Fastrack electric bus fleet will help tackle air pollution where is it most needed.
Fastrack already leads the way encouraging pollinators on its estate with Fastrack wildflower verge planting with a second phase due to be rolled out during 2023. The Fastrack team is procuring a Living Roof bus shelter contractor during 2023 to supply and install Living Roof bus shelters on the Fastrack Thameside BRT network.
The Fastrack team work with Kent’s Plan bee team and the wildflowers used on the Fastrack will attract the rare shrill carder bee & increase biodiversity of pollinators.
The estimated project cost for the Rennie Drive Scheme is circa £2,500,000 including a risk allowance of £425k. 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 and £6,530,895 revenue.
The funding has been released by DfT to KCC and has been allocated to the budget line P-7HE-61382-C20-DAA-3L18-00
A condition of 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 is 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.
Decision type: Key
Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)
Notice of proposed decision first published: 31/10/2023
Decision due: Not before 29th Nov 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
Stakeholders have been engaged which includes The Bridge Management Company which regularly consults with businesses and residents within The Bridge and the former Littlebrook Power Station site. Regular updates are also provided at the Fastrack Thameside Working Group and the Fastrack Thameside Advisory Board (Chaired by the ETCC Cabinet Member or his Deputy). An elected Member for Dartford Borough Council sits on the Fastrack Thameside Advisory Board. A report was also presented to the September Dartford JTB and was received without comment or question. Sainsburys and Amazon have also been engaged being the main businesses effected by the scheme. A kent.gov website page has been prepared and has been published.
The proposed decision will be considered at the Environment and Trasport Cabinet Committee on 15th November 2023.
Financial implications: As detailed above
Legal implications: A small area of land to provide the widening for a footway/cycleway at Rennie Drive has been agreed with the land title holders Dartford Borough Council and The Bridge Management Company. This is being included with the S278 land adoption for Fastrack currently being managed by the Agreements Team using legal support from Governance, Law & Democracy for the Property work.
Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An EqIA was published on 23 December 2022. 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