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INTEGRATE TRANSPORT AND PLANNING TO REDUCE DELAYS

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The Highways Agency needs to become a statutory consultee on regional plans so that transport infrastructure commit...
The Highways Agency needs to become a statutory consultee on regional plans so that transport infrastructure commitments better match development needs, says the South East England Regional Assembly.

The Assembly's Regional Planning Committee (RPC) is responding to Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on 'Planning and the Strategic Road Network'.

The Assembly has already involved the HA in preparation of its 20 year planning vision - the South East Plan. However, formalising consultation will help the HA focus on investment needs to deliver the Plan and speed up Strategic Road Network improvements. The Plan's detailed Implementation Plan, with information on where and when better transport is needed, will also help the HA argue for the necessary Government funding.

The RPC has welcomed DfT's linked proposal that as a statutory consultee the HA would have reduced power to object to developments identified in an adopted spatial development plan.

Keith Mitchell, Assembly Chairman, said: 'Failure to make the Highways Agency a statutory consultee would mean that they can't be fully involved in the plan making process. Many plans across the region are being held up by non delivery of HA schemes and this is causing frustration. It also means we are spending time and money on fixing procedural flaws instead of delivering real infrastructure. We hope the new arrangements will put an end to unnecessary delays.'

The Assembly's response to DfT recommends that:

- HA investment requirements, identified in spatial plans such as the South East Plan, are included in the Comprehensive Spending Review process

- DfT provides sufficient resources to promote ways to reduce travelling

- Only regionally significant schemes which cost more than£5million are included in spatial plans.

Link to the agreed Regional Assembly Planning Committee paper (Item 9) - http:www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/meetings/planning/2006.html

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