The Corporate Director Communities reported on the current progress relating to a major capital transport investment to improve multi-modal accessibility within and through Pencoed and provided an update on the recent work undertaken together with background information on the current situation and potential aspiration and sought authorisation to go out to public consultation in due course.
The Corporate Director Communities reported that the transport proposals at Pencoed will facilitate active travel on Hendre Road by removing the requirement for pedestrians and cyclists to wait until a train has passed, through the provision of a dedicated active travel bridge. It would also seek to enhance active travel infrastructure at Penprysg Bridge through improved pedestrian and cyclist safety, convenience and usability. She stated that a Stage One WelTAG was completed in June 2019 which identified, developed and appraised a long-list of options used to provide solutions to the issues that currently pose a challenge for connectivity between the west and east of Pencoed. The process identified which of those options from the long-list should be progressed and further investigated at WelTAG Stage Two, which was to examine in greater detail the short-list of options for tackling the problem under consideration, as agreed by the WelTAG Stage One report. She stated that the recommendation of the WelTAG Stage Two study was for the option containing a combination of new bridge provision and closure of the level crossing to be taken forward to WelTAG Stage Three. The closure of the level crossing would be anticipated to include provision of a new active travel bridge. She informed Cabinet that a Steering Group has been set up comprising of representatives from the community, Council, the MP, the constituency MS, the town council, Wales Office, Welsh Government, Network Rail and Transport for Wales. An addendum to WelTAG Stage 2 s also nearing completion which is focussed on active travel bridge options at Hendre Road.
The Corporate Director Communities reported that the next stage is for public consultation on the proposals to formally commence which is critical to the WelTAG process, which will enable some affected landowners to be contacted directly to discuss the concept of the scheme and initial engineering activities required to progress the WelTAG process. These initial works include requirements for third party land access to facilitate topographical surveys, ground investigations, ecology surveys and equipment access. The public consultation phase is critical to the design of the scheme and any subsequent public realm enhancement. She stated engagement had been undertaken and negotiations commenced with Network Rail to facilitate the required access for the initial survey. She informed Cabinet that following favourable public consultation, the project would be able to proceed to WelTAG Stage Three.
The Corporate Director Communities informed Cabinet that the current WelTAG assessments had been funded by the Welsh Government Local Transport Fund which is administered under the Cardiff City Region’s Metro Programme and detailed construction costs will be provided at WelTAG Stage Three. However, the current estimate is that the preferred option would cost in the region of £17 million, subject to changing variables and conditions. She indicated that potential sources of funding for future technical work and construction include Section 106 planning contributions, Welsh Government grants, UK Government grants, Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and Network Rail. She informed Cabinet that the Council would need to fully explore future funding options in association with the Steering Group and these will be reported back in due course.
The Cabinet Member Education and Regeneration congratulated the team of officers for the progress it had made with this project to date. He referred to the frequency of trains using the mainline and that the project would impact on positively on the future of services calling at Pyle station and on the line to Maesteg. He referred to the cancellation of the electrification project west of Cardiff and asked whether the bridge over the railway line would be future proofed in the event that electrification took place for cables to be run underneath the bridge. The Corporate Director Communities confirmed that the bridge would be future proofed and proposals are being worked up with Capita and Network Rail.
The Cabinet Member Communities requested detail as to when the consultation will commence to ensure there is maximum participation in the consultation. The Corporate Director Communities stated that a consultation will commence in the autumn. A consultation strategy will be developed in order to work with the community and to derive economic benefits and to ensure the consultation as many people as possible. The Group Manager Planning and Development Services informed Cabinet that there is a need for the project to maximise transport connectivity and economic benefits. The project could be some time in the making, necessitating the closure of the mainline at times during construction.
The Deputy Leader asked whether consideration had been given to constructing a tunnel to take the mainline. The Corporate Director Communities stated that this had been considered but had been ruled out due to the instability a tunnel could cause. The Principal Engineer Project Management informed Cabinet that a tunnel had been considered briefly, but its construction would necessitate the closure of the mainline for 5 to 6 months, along with the costs, which would have been astronomical.
The Leader commented on the significance of this engineering project and he looked forward to seeing the outcome of the consultation.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
(1) Noted the information contained within the report.
(2) Delegated Authority to the Corporate Director of Communities to undertake a full public consultation on the scheme, liaise with affected landowners on the proposed design and continue to work closely with Network Rail to design, facilitate and deliver the scheme.
(3) Agreed that a further report on the consultation outcomes, proposed designs and any potential funding streams comes before a future meeting of the Cabinet before proceeding further.