Plans to improve the A1 in Northumberland have been on the cards since the release of the Roads Investment Strategy in Autumn 2014. The Strategy allocated a £290 million package towards the improvement of 13 miles of the A1 between Morpeth to Felton and Alnwick to Ellingham.
Options & Consultation
A number of options for the upgrade were developed and presented to the public in the form of a consultation period in the winter of 2016. The responses to the consultation were considered when choosing the preferred routes alongside; cost and ease of construction, environmental impacts and impacts on communities and landowners.
The result of the public consultations on the various routes, has been the recent release of the highways authority’s preferred routes. In both cases the highways authority appears to have opted for the “half-way” route, which involves utilising and dualling sections of the existing A1 where possible, while constructing new sections and junctions where necessary to ease congestion and improve access to local settlements.
Preferred Route – Morpeth to Felton
The most popular option is being progressed. This option involves:
- Retaining the route of the existing A1 as a local road after the scheme’s completion.
- Building a dual carriageway alongside parts of the existing A1
- Build a completely new dual carriageway from near Low Espley to Eshott Airfield
- Maintaining and improving access to local roads and junctions.
Preferred Route – Alnwick to Ellingham
The route selected was chosen as it the improves road links between Alnwick and Ellingham. The work will entail:
- Dualling the road North of Denwick to North Charlton
- Maintaining the East-West link at Broxfield occupation bridge
- Provide access to local roads and the A1 from South Charlton.
Consultation and Construction
Moving forwards, Highways England will go through further consultation and planning processes, with a view to applying for a Development Consent Order (DCO) in 2018. It is expected that construction will not commence until after 2020 with the road opening in 2023.
When the scheme proceeds, it is likely that Highways England will use compulsory purchase powers to acquire land without the need for the owner or occupier’s consent. Nevertheless, they often work hard to cooperate with landowners and tenants to minimise the impact of their works.
Landowners and occupiers will need to be prepared for this scheme as there may be opportunities to influence accommodation works and claim early compensation payments. However, the key is to respond quickly and efficiently to notices.
For example, compensation is normally only payable when the scheme has completed which may not be until 2023. Instead by applying during a small window of opportunity, it is possible to secure a payment of 90% of the claim when access is taken.
Professional fees can be included as part of a compensation claim. As there is no cost to being professionally represented affected parties should appoint an agent as soon as possible to ensure their best interests are protected.
GSC Grays provide professional advice in respect to all matters of compulsory purchase and land acquisition including:
- Pre-entry surveys
- Access issues
- Preparation of compensation claims
- Early payment of compensation
- Construction compounds
- Accommodation works
To find out if your land or property will be affected or for further information please visit the Highways England website and search for the project: “A1 Morpeth to Ellingham Dualling”.