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From the 1st April 2015 the Highways Agency (HA) will metamorphose into Highways England (HE); the HE will be a government-owned company focusing on the planning and delivery of Central Governments long term plans for England’s Strategic Road Network.

The Minister of State for Transport, The Rt Hon John Hayes states in the forward of the “Highways England: Licence (April 2015)” that the HE is expected “to go the extra mile in the way it engages with road users and collaborates with other organisations to develop shared solutions”.

mode believes this will be welcome news to developers and land promoters; the HE will be accountable for delivering a well-managed road network and should be seen to be “supporting economic purpose”, of which new housing stock and development has a vital role to play.

The license sets out two further key points that could have a positive impact on the planning system:

  •  The HE will not be able to direct refusal; it will be the decision of the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to decide whether to follow any HE recommendations. However, the Secretary of State for Transport will need to be informed when recommendations are not followed and can intervene.
  •  Consultation with HE will be only required where development is “likely to result in an adverse impact on the safety of, or queuing on a trunk road”.

mode anticipates that these changes in approach are a positive move for Highway England and should remove the time consuming impacts that the current Highways Agency has by being able to issue holding directions.

It firmly puts a greater onus on the LPA to determine whether the development is likely to result in an adverse impact, which in turn will help enable development and (hopefully) expedite the planning process.

Ultimately this new license has the potential to avoid the delays frequently encountered when the HA (and their consultants) get involved, particularly on smaller scale development where traffic impacts are not significant.

If you envisage that your future planning applications may impact on the strategic network or you currently have a holding direction on current schemes, please contact us at or call one of our regional offices to discuss.

To see a full copy of the DfT Highways Agency License (April 2015) please follow the link below:

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