A ‘top ten’ list of high-priority road improvement schemes to cut congestion, speed up journeys and support economic growth across the South East has been submitted to government as part of a £3.5bn, five-year investment programme.

The schemes – which would each cost between £20m and £50m and be delivered by 2025 if funded – were agreed by Transport for the South East (TfSE), a new regional body which brings together local authorities, business groups and the transport industry to speak with one voice on the region’s transport needs.

It follows a request from government in December 2018 for regions to agree their priorities for improving the Major Road Network (MRN), which comprises the country’s busiest and most economically important local authority ‘A’ roads.

Shortlisted schemes for the South East were assessed against a range of national criteria as well as Transport for the South East’s strategic objectives for the region, which focus on sustainable economic growth, improved quality of life and the environment.

The final ‘top ten’ list of schemes includes the replacement of a vital cross-city link in Southampton, a major upgrade of a busy junction on the M2 in Kent, improvements to the A320 which links Guildford and Woking with the M25 and a package of schemes to renew and improve the A259 coast road through West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and East Sussex.

Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: “A high-quality, reliable transport network is absolutely critical to our region’s continued success, so it’s vital we make a strong case for ongoing investment on behalf of people and businesses in the South East.

“The schemes we have put forward would, if funded, mean better and more reliable journeys for road users and help reduce urban congestion, speed up journey times and support new housing and jobs.

“By speaking with one voice to influence where and how money is spent in our region, Transport for the South East is already making a real difference for the 7.5m people who live and work in the South East.”

The ten schemes submitted to DfT are:

  • Northam Rail Bridge Replacement and Enhancement, Southampton City Council
  • A284 Lyminster Bypass, West Sussex County Council
  • Redbridge Causeway, Hampshire County Council
  • A249 at M2 Junction 5, Kent County Council
  • A22 Corridor Package, East Sussex County Council
  • A320 North Corridor, Surrey County Council
  • A259 (King’s Road) Seafront Highways Structures (Arches) Renewal Programme, Brighton & Hove City Council
  • A28 Birchington, Acol and Westgate-on-Sea Relief Road, Kent County Council
  • A259 Bognor Regis to Littlehampton Enhancement, West Sussex County Council
  • A259 South Coast Road Corridor, East Sussex County Council

An additional shortlist of potential £50m+ Large Local Major (LLM) schemes which would deliver significant local benefit are also being assessed for inclusion in the national programme for 2020-25. Transport for the South East intends to submit its top priority LLM schemes to the Department for Transport in the autumn.

The schemes which have not made the cut at this stage will provide a potential pipeline of schemes to be considered for inclusion in the next funding period from 2025 to 2030.

Route to a sustainable future
Also this autumn, Transport for the South East will publish its draft transport strategy for public consultation. Looking at the period up to 2050, the draft strategy will include a focus on the schemes, initiatives and broader transport policies needed to reduce congestion, improve air quality and mitigate the impacts of climate change while enabling the region’s economy to grow sustainably.

Cllr Glazier continued: “We know that transport is the single biggest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions. So while the government’s commitment to invest in our road network is hugely welcome, Transport for the South East is also focusing on how we can best support the UK’s journey to a net-zero carbon economy.

“Our thirty-year draft transport strategy will make clear that roads will continue to play a central role in our green future – but we need to go further, faster to encourage take-up of cleaner fuel alternatives, greater use of public transport and harness the potential of new technology to transform the way we travel.”