HC Deb 10 July 1996 vol 281 cc205-6W
Sir Robert Hicks

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his policy on the control of development adjacent to trunk roads; and if he will make a statement. [37120]

Mr. Watts

Good communications are vital to the economy. It is therefore important that trunk roads continue to meet their prime function of catering for long distance through traffic. We will ensure that they do so by maintaining strict control of new accesses to them. This applies particularly to motorways—where we will continue to consider new access only for motorway service areas, maintenance compounds and major transport centres such as airports—and to high standard rural trunk roads of strategic importance.

Where new or modified accesses from trunk roads to new development are allowed, or where the traffic demands on a trunk road would materially increase as a result of new development, we will also continue to ensure that those responsible for the development pay for any highway works needed to cater for the resulting extra traffic.

I am nevertheless concerned that the additional costs imposed on developers under this policy have sometimes been excessive. In some cases, this has led to much-needed investment being lost altogether. I have therefore today issued new guidelines on the principles which the Highways Agency will adopt when considering development proposals affecting trunk roads. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Of particular importance is that developers will in future be expected to pay only for improvements necessary to ensure that conditions on the trunk road are, as far as possible, no worse than if the development had not taken place. Other changes affect the design life of developer-funded highway works; and introduce greater flexibility to take account of environmental concerns and existing constraints on the network, and the potential to increase the use of public transport, cycling and walking.

I am confident that the new guidelines will significantly reduce burdens on intending developers and encourage sustainable development while maintaining effective protection for the most important trunk roads.

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