A303 and A47 improvement programmes

ClientHighways England
LocationSouth West and Eastern England Regions
Services

Background 

Previous proposals to alleviate traffic congestion in the South West – caused mainly by tourist traffic and heavy goods vehicles – had stalled and the local community was sceptical that the much-needed upgrades would ever go ahead. While good support for the improvements existed, stakeholders were divided about the detail of the route improvements and Mott MacDonald contacted us to handle the public consultation requirements.

Key project information

  • Two major road improvement schemes in the South West involving Development Consent Order (DCO) applications and up to six DCOs linked to dualling and junction improvements along the A47 in East Anglia
  • Projects at differing stages with the South West schemes being at option stage and the A47 have just had their Preferred Route Announcements
  • Many internal and external stakeholders had little or no experience of the DCO process
  • Both projects were suffering from consultation fatigue and a lack of belief

How we assisted

We adopted a methodological approach so that the wood could be seen from the trees at the outset. Confusion reigned among stakeholders and Highways England was under pressure to come forward with proposals that were understood by all and viewed as realistic by the public.

A communications plan was created to identify and address priority issues among stakeholders. The use of a phased approach informed differing stakeholders that the project was going live and that public consultation would introduce route options to the public in due course.

The situation was similar for the A47 in that the project was politically popular in the region but it had been suggested on several previous occasions. However, our involvement started at Stage 3, post the Secretary of State’s announcement of a preferred route and a highly accelerated timeline. This generated specific challenges, since originally the schemes had been planned as six separate DCOs and there had been a general lack of informal consultation.

Outcome

Members of the public and other key stakeholders feel reassured that there is substance behind the project proposals. They understand the upcoming DCO process and their ability to become involved in a set of public consultations that will allow feedback. For the East Anglia project, two of the schemes were descaled out of the DCO process, which dramatically helped with the accelerated programme.