Project Centre help secure funding for Medway Council
The Hoo Peninsula in Medway has been identified as a preferred location for a new community to be constructed, with the potential to deliver over 10,000 much needed new homes.
The peninsula is bounded by the Thames and River Medway estuaries and links to the strategic road network via a single A-road. There is limited capacity for growth in traffic volumes, with flows to and from the peninsula’s existing communities currently creating capacity issues, particularly during morning peak hours.
Project Centre were commissioned to support Medway’s planning team to review opportunities and develop options for highway infrastructure improvements that could cope with the quantum of planned housing growth in future years.
We worked closely with a multi-disciplinary team, including a team that were developing plans for a new rail link that would provide a new commuter rail service and station to serve the growth area.
Our role was to assess how routing and transportation choices could be improved in order to cope with predicted trip generation over time, and to develop a WebTAG compliant business case for a preferred highways infrastructure package. The business case needed to comply with the specific requirements of Homes England, most notably demonstrating how the planned investment package would directly lead to the release of planning permission for housing construction, conversely demonstrating how a lack of investment would constrain and prevent this growth.
The options under consideration included a mix of:
• Improvements to existing roads to increase capacity.
• New and improved highway intersections.
• A new road to provide an alternative link to and from the peninsula.
• Associated bridge and link road structures to accommodate connections to the strategic road network.
• Public transport improvements to maximise use of non-car modes.
• New rail links, stations and services.
• Links and facilities for vulnerable users to encourage cycling and walking.
Medway Council bid for funding through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF). As well as designing and developing scheme options, we prepared a full five step business case for their HIF bid that followed guidance provided by the Ministry and built on a base Expression of Interest already put forward by Medway Council.
We utilised the Medway Aimsun model to develop and validate transport impacts, specifying a process of incremental trip growth to determine a deadweight level for the Peninsula, i.e. the number of homes that could be provided before the local road network is unable to cope with further growth.
We also calculated the benefits of modal shift that could be gained through introduction of a new rail service and bus service enhancements in terms of the reduction in car-based trips that could be achieved.
Our economic appraisal indicated that the highway scheme would generate net benefits greater than its cost, particularly when taking account of the land value uplift associated with the road scheme, which comfortably outweighed negative external benefits created by the housing growth.
Importantly, we were able to demonstrate that the highway scheme would achieve its core outcome, which is to enable predicted trips from over 10,000 homes to move to and from the peninsula without leading to traffic gridlock on local roads.
Medway Council pulled together a large multi-consultancy team to develop this project. The complexity of the HIF bidding requirements and sheer scale of the infrastructure needs required intensive support from all partners.
Project Centre initially provided support from our two most senior Operations Directors to deliver “critical friend” support to their team, helping them to negotiate the complexities of transport planning and engineering disciplines. Recognising the importance of this project to a valued client, we provided significant time input from our directors, who were able to advise on the best way forward, effectively simplifying the requirements and targeting multi-disciplinary efforts to move towards a preferred solution supported by a robust business case.
Our client stated that:
“I am very much enjoying working with Project Centre on the HIF Bid. I have found the team to be very helpful and adaptable at working with Medway Council and our needs. The communication between parties has been excellent and I would have no problem in recommending them for future work.”
Our success in providing clarity to the process led to us being requested to undertake the technical support needed to create an Option Appraisal report and full business case. We undertook all this work within a very challenging 10-week timeframe, providing significant expert resources as required whilst delivering and managing all the required design, planning and assessment work.
In November 2019 Homes England announced that Medway’s bid was successful, and we are delighted to say that £170m of investment has been approved, £86.7m of which will go towards funding much needed highways improvements.