Fourth DCO Accepted by PINS for A47 Improvement Programme
Date of Article
Aug 24 2021
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As part of the A47 corridor improvement programme, Carter Jonas has supported on four Development Consent Order (DCO) applications which have all been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) within the last seven months.

The Acceptance stage is the second key milestone in the six-stage process of the development consent regime under The Planning Act 2008 (PA2008).

The applications were submitted on behalf of Highways England, with Carter Jonas acting as the DCO lead alongside Galliford Try, the principal contractor, and Sweco UK, the designer and environmental lead. The applications relate to the A47 Wansford to Sutton, Blofield to North Burlingham, North Tuddenham to Easton, and A47/A11 Thickthorn junction schemes.  Three of the four schemes are now in the examination phase with the Issue Specific Hearings for Blofield to North Burlingham having commenced on 16 August.

The A47 is part of the strategic road network connecting the Midlands to East Anglia and beyond. The existing A47 has a number of congestion hotspots around Norwich, Peterborough and Great Yarmouth. These result in delays and concerns regarding safety for all road users. Additionally, developments along the A47 through Norfolk are predicted to result in significant growth in certain areas. Proposed improvements in these areas will help to support the local communities affected.

The acceptance of each application is a significant milestone in the A47 improvement programme. The schemes will now go through the DCO examination process before determination by the Secretary of State. Carter Jonas is the DCO lead on all four schemes and has also provided land referencing services for each application. 

Alison Cheetham, Associate, Infrastructure and Energy, Carter Jonas: “The A47 is a vital route for residents and businesses across the region, so it is great to be able to announce the acceptance of these applications, helping to advance this important upgrade programme. The DCO process allows PINS to provide early feedback on initial applications. That all four have been positively accepted in this matter is a great result for Highways England as well as Carter Jonas, having co-ordinated and project managed the consenting process, and the wider delivery team. Having adopted a collaborative approach, we look forward to working together to support the significant improvements across the A47 network."

Further information about the schemes is available on the Highways England scheme websites:

Carter Jonas will continue to work with Highways England, Galliford Try and Sweco UK to see all four schemes through to a decision.

What is a DCO?

A Development Consent Order (DCO) is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). Introduced by the Planning Act in 2008, Development Consent Orders were intended to simplify and speed up the process of obtaining planning permission for certain types of project, designated as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. In England, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) examines applications for development consent from the energy; transport; waste; waste water; water; and business and commercial sectors. PINS examines the application and will make a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State (SoS), who will make the decision on whether to grant or to refuse development consent.

There are 6 stages to the DCO process:

  1. Pre-application: Prior to submission, potential applicants must to carry out consultation on their proposals.
  2. Acceptance: The applicant submits an application for development consent to PINS, who then has 28 days to decide if the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination.
  3. Pre-examination: Public register with PINS to become an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation (a person’s views on an application, made in writing). An Examining Authority is appointed, and all Interested Parties will be invited to attend a Preliminary Meeting. This stage usually takes approximately three months from acceptance.
  4. Examination: PINS has six months to carry out the examination. Interested Parties are invited to provide more details of their views in writing. All important and relevant matters are considered including the representations, any supporting evidence submitted and answers provided to questions set out in writing or at hearings.
  5. Recommendation and Decision: PINS prepare a report and recommendation on the application to the SoS within three months of the close of the Examination. The SoS has three months to grant or refuse development consent.
  6. Post decision: When a decision has been issued, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court (Judicial Review).

More information on the process is available on the PINS website.

In our article ‘Accelerating the planning and delivery of infrastructure in a post-Covid Britain’ Robbie Owen, board secretary of the National Infrastructure Planning Association (NIPA), explains the challenge of reaching the government’s target of halving the time it takes to consent some NSIPs. Read the article >