Presented by Anna Eastgate, Assistant Director of Lower Thames Crossing and Transport Infrastructure Projects, the report gave an update on the progress of the Stanford-le-Hope Interchange project in that:
· Required works had been undertaken in March 2019 to demolish the existing station building in order to secure funding from the National Stations Improvement Programme (NSIP) fund.
· Steel beams were removed over the site’s café building in August 2019.
· Between 21 October and 20 December 2019, station security and operations were improved.
· Temporary station arrangements included: temporary ticket stations; car park layout changed to improve pick up and drop off; and the station power supply and new platform 1 access has re-introduced the ticket gate line.
The scheme was currently on pause for review. The next steps of the project was outlined in that:
· The site activities may potentially resume in early 2020;
· Platform 1 may be widened at the furthest end from London Road;
· The aim was to complete the project by August 2021 and updates would be provided via an eNewsletter that the service was working on with c2c.
The Chair welcomed the pause and review of the project and referring to paragraphs 3.1 to 3.6 of the report, he questioned why those proposed works had not been undertaken. He voiced his concerns in that the project had gotten so far and whether there had been mitigation strategies in place. Anna Eastgate answered that a ‘post-mortem’ had to be undertaken to assess what had happened with the proposed works. However, there were measures in place now to improve the project and the service was confident that the project would be completed.
The Chair questioned how long the ‘post-mortem’ would take and when the information would be made publicly available. Noting that works were proposed to begin in August 2021, he also questioned it the scheme would be deliverable by then. In response, Anna Eastgate said that the design had been simplified to reflect what could be delivered without the need for additional land. However, the existing planning application would require amendment and the service would be in discussions with designers to look at a high level design that was deliverable. The aim was to make savings and efficiencies where possible and to deliver the maximum benefits of the scheme. The service was undertaking workshops in lessons learned from projects and to instil confidence in officers involved in project work.
With the planning application, the Vice-Chair queried the timeframe for his amendment to be made. Leigh Nicholson explained that once the revised plans were received, the service would then analyse the next steps to be taken. If the amended plan was new, then it would need to go through the planning application process and 21 days would be required for the consultation period before the application could be submitted. From there, the application would go onto Planning Committee to be considered. The aim now was to get the project back on the right track.
Councillor Gerrish welcomed the idea of the lessons learnt from projects sessions. He thought it was important in helping the service to recover from projects quickly. Referring to the August 2021 start date, he questioned when the project would start again after the current pause and review. He thought it would be good to see the project plans and that projects had to be better reviewed. Anna Eastgate replied that the project gateway process would enable the Committee to feed into project plans.
The Chair and Councillor Gerrish felt democratic accountability had to be taken over the issues within the project and wished to see the project come back to Committee for an update. The Committee further discussed the importance of bringing schemes and projects to overview and scrutiny for review and to see which projects were and were not on track.
1.1 That the Planning Transport Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee commented on the progress on the Stanford le Hope Interchange project.