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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 21st September, 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Visible and Building Services

 

Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme Update

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise Members of progress on the Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme.

Recommendations

1.             That Members note the progress made on the Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme to date.

2.             That this report be forwarded to the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             For information.

2.             To comply with a request from this Committee for a progress report on this project.

Background

2.             The Vale of Glamorgan Council has previously undertaken studies in this area in respect of the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) proposal to trunk the route Culverhouse Cross – Sycamore Cross – Five Mile Lane – Waycock Cross - Airport.  This work has formed the basis for the Vale of Glamorgan’s proposed Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.             Set out below is an account of expenditure and activities on the project to date.

Financial Year 2007/08

4.             In 2007/08 the Vale of Glamorgan Council submitted a bid for funding in the sum of £325k and subsequently received up to 250k as a Principal Road Grant from WAG to advance the Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme.  This funding allowed the following to be progressed:

Environmental studies;

Review of drainage requirements;

Review of accident data;

Review of existing alignment;

Initial consideration of on-line improvements.

£160k of the funding was utilised to undertake these activities.  It should be noted that the funding arrangements for this project are such that only funds actually spent are claimed and therefore no funds had to be returned to WAG.  This scheme is not time limited and the funding arrangements are determined by WAG on an annual rolling basis.

Financial Year 2008/09

5.             In 2008/09 £890k of funding was bid and provided by WAG.  Only £49k was eventually spent.  It was originally intended to use the funding for the following:-

Traffic model information on the wider transportation issues for the area (from WAG consultant Arup);

Environmental studies;

On-line improvements;

Off-line improvements;

Structure requirements.

ARUP consultants who were appointed by WAG to undertake a wider traffic study were commissioned by the Council to include the 5 Mile Lane Traffic Study as part of their investigations.  The traffic data was anticipated to be delivered at the end of October 2008, however this was not completed until the following financial year in July 2009;

Subsequently the main design works were delayed and the anticipated spend in this financial year was therefore severely curtailed.  However, in order to maintain momentum, environmental studies were progressed including the following:

Great Crested Newt Survey;

Targeted Ecology Survey;

Phase 1 Extended Habitat Survey;

Site Features Survey;

Base Map Preparation.

These commissions were undertaken to gather ecological and environmental data, which would then inform the main Stage 2 Environmental Assessment.  It was important not to miss any ecological study windows hence environmental studies continued as far as practicable in a broad sense even though an alignment had yet to be decided.  Under the circumstances, only £49k of the available budget was utilised.

Financial Year 2009/10

6.             A bid for £765k was made for financial year 2009/10.  WAG however, only allocated funding of £235k to continue with ecological studies, environmental investigations and options appraisal for the proposed improvements at Five Mile Lane.

The funding was utilised to progress ecological studies within the Five Mile Lane corridor with full advantage being made of the ecological survey windows.

The in-house design team also developed a number of potential highway alignment options with side road accesses.

Following discussions with Soltys Brewster Consulting (Ecological and Environmental Consultant); it was agreed that an Interim Scheme Assessment Report (ISAR) be prepared.  This report would then offer the following benefits:

It would collate all known information into a single summary document.

It would adhere to the main Stage 2 Environmental Assessment Methodology as required by Welsh Transport Planning and Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG);

The report would be informed by the continued ecological data collection;

The ISAR would be tabled to the Statutory Environmental Bodies (SEB) for their early comments on the proposed alignment options;

SEB comments would be valuable in that they would inform the Stage 2 Environmental Assessment Studies and detailed design thus reducing any abortive work;

WAG funding would be utilised in the most effective manner.

The ISAR commission was subject to the competitive procurement process in line with Council's Financial Regulations and Standing Orders.  SoltysBrewster Consulting successful both on quality and cost and were appointed in October 2009.  Their main tasks were to prepare the ISAR; consult with SEBs; finalise the ISAR and prepare the Brief for the Stage 2 Environmental Assessment studies.

The draft ISAR was completed and a Workshop was arranged in March 2009 for the SEBs (Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, Glamorgan Gwent Archaelogical Trust, CADW and VoG).  The SEBs commented positively on the depth and breadth of the studies undertaken to date and were very appreciative of the opportunity for early involvement to make observations, comments and to assist in the development of the scheme.  Early SEB involvement would reduce the risk of any unknown issue materialising at later stages of the scheme.  A number of minor additional studies were identified which would be valuable if they were completed prior to the ISAR being finalised and Stage 2 Environmental Assessment Brief being prepared.  These additional studies were completed.

The total expenditure for 2009/10 was almost £169k. 

Financial Year 2010/11

7.             The bid for 2010/11 was £495k of which £400k was subsequently approved by WAG.  The grant approval contained the additional condition that the scheme development should follow the requirements of the WelTAG process.  To comply with this, a number of additional activities had to be programmed and commissioned during the year.  The following activities have been progressed:

Stage 1 Environmental Assessments

Work on completing the Interim Scheme Assessment Report (ISAR) had been delayed while comments were awaited from one of the SEBs.  This has now been completed. 

Stage 2 Environmental Assessments

The finalisation of the Stage 2 Environmental Assessment Brief had been delayed as the comments from the SEBs needed to be incorporated in the brief.  This has now been completed.  The Stage 2 Environmental Assessment will be subject to a separate procurement process in due course.

Further Alignment and Junction Studies

Further route option development has been deferred into 2011/12, as requested by WAG, until approval of the WelTAG1 Report.

Transportation Policy

Analysis of the public participation process has been completed.

Collision Study Report

The Collision Study Report has been completed by Mott MacDonald.

Flood Consequences Assessment (FCA)

Waycock River FCA brief has been completed.  No further progress, as requested by WAG, until approval of the WelTAG1 Report.

WaycockRiverStructure

Investigations into the possible form of structure have progressed well and will continue to the end of the financial year.

Other Structures

Investigations into the possible form of structures along the various routes have progressed well and will continue to the end of the financial year.

WelTAG Stage 1 Report

A draft WelTAG Stage 1 Report has been completed by Arup and the report issued to WAG for further discussion.

Consequently of the original available funding of £400,000 has not been fully utilised, with expenditure totalling £196,000.

Financial Year 2011/12

8.             Despite numerous contact no indication has been received from the WG as to future funding for this scheme and no further meeting has yet been arranged.  This includes requests for further clarification as recently as June 2011.

At its meeting of 15th February, 2011, the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee expressed concern with progress on this project and the potential loss of WG grant, Minute 906 of the report refers.  It is therefore proposed that this report be referred to this particular Committee for information.

Project Management

9.             In September 2010 the Corporate Management Team approved a Corporate Project Management Methodology.  This methodology will ensure that schemes are project managed to a standardised format allowing for an Authority wide approach to Project Management.  As the scheme commenced in 2007/08 it was not subject to this methodology.  However, the Highways Engineering Division followed their own ISO accredited Project Methodology, and the grant conditions set by WAG for this scheme.  It should be noted that the issues surrounding progress of this scheme are not related to inadequacies in either Project Management methodology.

10.        A draft WelTAG1 Report was presented to WAG before Christmas 2010 with a view to discussing future progress and the likelihood of funding in the next financial year.  WAG requested sight of the Collision Study Report prepared by Mott MacDonald, which forms part of the WelTAG1 report.  Comments were subsequently received from WAG and amendments made to the Collision Study Report (by Mott MacDonald).  Any agreed changes will need to be incorporated in the WelTAG1 report by Arup in due course.   No further communication is this respect has been received from WG.

Procurement

11.        All procurement in relation to this project has been in accordance with the Councils Contract Standing Orders and Financial Regulation.  This has been confirmed following a review by the Audit department.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.        The funding made available by WG on a year-by-year basis, is often significantly less than the amount bid for by the Council.  As a result the schedule of work to be undertaken has to be amended to reflect the available budget.  This coupled with significant delays in receiving the critical traffic data report, compiled by Arup on behalf of WG has meant that the scheme did not progress during the 2007/08 to 2010/11 financial years as originally planned.  Subsequently the amount of potential funding awarded, but not utilised is £1,158,000.  Details of funds provided and actual expenditure achieved together with the reasons for the variances for each financial year are contained in this report.

The £574,000 that has been currently spent and funded to the Council by WG will not be required to be repaid even if the scheme does not ultimately proceed.

The project is managed by the Council's Highways and Engineering staff.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        There are no Legal or Human Rights Implications with respect to this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        There are no Crime and disorder Implications with respect to this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        There are no Equal Opportunities Implications or Welsh Language issues with respect to this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        To maintain and manage a safe highway infrastructure.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        The details contained within this report are within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        Statutory Environmental Bodies including the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, Cadw, Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust, Vale of Glamorgan Council (Ecology) have been consulted as and when appropriate.

Cabinet and Ward Member consultation took place prior to the public consultation exercise.

A presentation for Informal Cabinet was made on 1st July, 2009.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Paul Gay - Group Engineer Highway Projects and Traffic Management Tel. No:  02920 673086

Officers Consulted

Head of Accountancy and Resource Management

Operational Manager Legal Services

Accountant, Building and Visible Services

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick, Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

 

 

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