Transportation and Infrastructure
North Kesteven District Council is part of the Midlands Engine, a body that brings together the Council operating in the area stretching from the Black Country eastwards to the Lincolnshire Coast together with delivery groups, educational establishments and other. Together, the various bodies seek to promote strategic economic development of the area, harnessing its strengths and promoting it as a place to invest, develop and grow. A Vision outlining key activities has been produced, seeking to shape the future of the Midlands, identify strengths to develop as well as overcoming barriers to achieving this.
As part of the work being done by Midlands Engine, Midlands Connect focusses specifically on transportation needs of the wider Midlands Engine area. Its focus is on supporting the Midlands to grow and develop, fulfilling its potential. Working across all transport modes, Midlands Connect seeks to join up and develop key linkages across the region to allow intraregional trade as well as facilitate international connections to be made.
Midlands Connect A46 Study
There are a number of key projects around smart ticketing, road and rail affecting the region. One of the key pieces of work has been the A46 which is a key transport corridor across the whole area stretching some 155miles from Gloucestershire to Lincolnshire. The work seeks to develop parts of the route and provide investment at key locations.
It seeks to provide a comprehensive improvement plan covering a 20 year period, identifying key investments along the route that will alleviate congestions and ultimately lead to economic growth along its length. The first part of this study has been concluded with the outcome accessible here.
Whilst not in Lincolnshire, a key identified upgrade is around Newark, impacting on A17 and A1 as well. The current under construction Lincoln Eastern Bypass is a key upgrade, whilst the potential Lincoln Southern Relief Road could form a part in later stages. Improvements northwards towards Grimsby and the port at Immingham (via the A15) will greatly increase the capacity of the area to deliver economic growth through better transport links.
The second stage of Midlands Connect’s A46 corridor study will further develop the proposed improvements and their respective business cases, and is due for release in 2019.
North Kesteven District Council is not responsible for local roads, this being a function of Lincolnshire County Council. However, in seeking to develop projects NKDC does input into road schemes, such as the proposed changes to the Holdingham Roundabout which NKDC successfully bid for funding for. Such schemes would always be in partnership with the High Authority, Lincolnshire County Council.
NKDC has been actively involved in projects aimed at improving rail services within its area. This includes providing information to bidders for the East Midlands franchise and working with the current franchise holder to deliver better services. This has been most evident at Hykeham Station with significantly more train services stopping leading to increased passenger number. Work is also undertaken along the Poacher Line – Grantham to Skegness – which passes through Rauceby, Sleaford and Heckington with regard to events.
Footpaths and Cycleways
The Council has also inputted into projects seeking to improve walking and cycling opportunities. Small scale studies and interventions have been made to help provide ‘missing links’ where practicable, sometimes made possible by working with local bodies to access funding. NKDC is also actively promoting cycling.
Sleaford Growth Project
The Economic Development team worked with delivery partners Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) and Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP) to bring forward two major infrastructure improvement programmes, Sleaford rugby club junction and Holdingham roundabout. The five-year journey began in 2016 when North Kesteven District Council (NKDC) started work on the Sleaford Growth Project bid, the Council then applied for funding from the Government Single Local Growth Fund via the GLLEP for the Project in 2017.
Following the Council’s initial ambitious £15m project which originated as a wider town wide bid for Sleaford, two elements were in principle agreed to be funded to a value of £2 million, the Sleaford rugby club junction and Holdingham roundabout, both of which were significant projects and included infrastructure works that were required to unlock the towns potential, ease congestion and improve safety.
From the in-principle agreement the Sleaford Growth Project details were developed and refined, the project gained momentum with GLLEP officially approved funding for the project in December 2019. LCC then came in as a core stakeholder and delivery partner for the project. The funding package was between NKDC, GLLEP, LCC and included developer contributions. Throughout the process several key relationships were formed at operational level, that will no doubt be beneficial for both parties going forward on future work.
The changes made to the rugby club junction in October 2020, include new approach lanes and traffic signals at the A17/A153, the junction now operates with a reduced speed limit and more defined space, which has eased congestion and improved safety. Work completed on the Holdingham roundabout in December 2021, new approach lanes and traffic signals were installed at some of the roundabout’s approaches, resulting in less congestion and increased safety for all road users. The two projects combined equate to £8.25 million, with the additional benefits of improved accessibility and better journey times when traveling in and around Sleaford.
The upgrade of the rugby club junction was essential to allow for full unfettered development of Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park (SMEP) and release the full potential of the 37-acre Strategic Employment Site which will create 500 new jobs for the town, support inward investment and help local businesses to grow. The upgrade and investment in Holdingham roundabout mean we can continue to support opportunities for economic growth and additionally meet the housing growth needs of Sleaford, as the improvements enable the Sleaford West Sustainable Urban Extension to be fully developed with 1,400 new dwellings alongside other housing schemes. The range of homes will meet the needs of people in Sleaford and those wishing to locate to the area. Ultimately the package of infrastructure and other improvements has unlocked the growth potential of Sleaford, ensuring it remains a sustainable and viable key market town in the heart of Lincolnshire.
NKDC were responsible for originating and developing the Sleaford Growth Project. Since completion in December 2021 the Council has received positive feedback on both infrastructure improvements, the monitoring of which is ongoing and NKDC remain the accountable body.
These projects form the first stage of the Councils vision for Sleaford, the additional work outlined in the initial Sleaford Growth Project are still in the pipeline, subject to funding. With the aspiration that whenever the opportunity arises to bid on future funds, NKDC can revisit the town centre scheme and use the findings from the Sleaford Masterplan Refresh to shape future plans with an increased focus on the town centre dynamic.