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Wed December 01 2021

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Go-ahead for Costain’s A1 upgrade

20 Jan The transport secretary has signed the development consent order for Highways England’s A1 Birtley to Coal House improvement scheme.

Costain is on board as main contractor, with Jacobs as its design partner, for the 6.5 km road widening scheme.

Highways England says that the cost has yet to be determined.

The A1 south of Gateshead is to be widened to four lanes between junction 65 and 67 on the southbound carriageway and three lanes with lane gain/drop between junctions on the northbound carriageway to provide additional capacity.

The scheme will also include the off-line replacement of Allerdene railway bridge immediately south of the existing structure to tie into the existing structure at Junction 67, Coal House. It forms part of the Newcastle Gateshead Western Bypass, all the way from junction 65 up to junction 80 of the A1.

The stretch of road to be widened passes the Angel of the North. The Planning Inspectorate consulted the sculptor, Anthony Gormley, resulting in additional requirements added to control lighting and noise to protect the Angel and its setting.

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The application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration by Highways England on 14th August 2019 and accepted for examination on 10th September 2019. It took until 21st October 2020 for its report to be submitted to the secretary of state, and three months for him to decide what to do with it.

The project had been expected to move rather more quickly than this, with work anticipated to start on site before the end of 2020.

However, Planning Inspectorate chief executive Sarah Richards said that everything was done by the book. “This marks the 100th nationally significant infrastructure project and 36th transport application to have been examined and decided within the timescales laid down in the Planning Act 2008,” she said. “The Planning Inspectorate is committed to giving local communities the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them. Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in the examination where the examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”

Of the 100 projects to go through the development consent planning route to date, 61 were energy, 36 transport, two waste and one wastewater developments.

There are currently 63 nationally significant Infrastructure projects at pre-application stage, in a pipeline of projects which developers are designing and consulting on, ready for examination over coming months and years. A further 13 are with the Planning Inspectorate or waiting a secretary of state’s decisision.

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