Our Development Consent Order

Seeking permission to build the scheme

This scheme is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), which means it’s classed as a large, complex infrastructure project that benefits the entire country.

To build the scheme, we need to gain a special type of planning permission called a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the Planning Inspectorate.

Developing new road schemes

Development Consent Order process

The scheme entered the examination stage for its Development Consent Order (DCO) application on Wednesday 18 August 2021, following the close of a procedural meeting known as the Preliminary Meeting.

A panel of inspectors has been appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to scrutinise our application.  They are called the Examining Authority.

What happens next

The draft examination timetable has now been published by the Planning Inspectorate, which lists key dates and deadlines through the examination period.

From Wednesday 18 August 2021 members of the Examining Authority have up to six months to examine our application. During this time, they will consider important and relevant matters relating to our Scheme. They will pose written questions to National Highways and hold hearings to discuss important topics in more detail.

The Planning Inspectorate have published the information about the people who have submitted requests to take part in the Examination. These are called ‘relevant representations’ from ‘Interested Parties.’ We are in the process of reviewing and responding to these.

You can follow the scheme throughout the examination period. All documents and submissions will be available to read on the Planning Inspectorate website.

In order to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic hearings will take place online. Anyone who would like to view the hearings via a live stream is able to so. A link to watch the livestream will be made available on the Planning Inspectorate website shortly before the hearings open. These will be shared on the A428 Facebook and Twitter channels. The hearings will be available to download from the Planning Inspectorate website later, if you aren’t able to view them live.

Site visits will take place which allow the members of the Examining Authority to visit locations to gain a better understanding of our proposals and familiarise themselves with the area around the Scheme. Accompanied site visits provide an opportunity for attendees to draw the Examining Authority’s attention to particular features of the site

Following the six-month examination period, the Planning Inspectorate has a further three months to write a recommendation report to the Secretary of State for Transport, who has another three months to make their decision.

We’ll continue to talk to our local community throughout the examination process and beyond. We’ll work closely with the relevant technical officers in the local authorities (Bedford Borough Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council) and their elected members, as well as Parish Councils along the route of the proposed scheme.

We’ll also hold public information events to keep people informed as things progress – we’ll share details of these events on this website and on our social media pages:

Further details of the examination process and timetable can be found in the Rule 6 letter on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Stages of an application for Development Consent

Pre-application stage

This is when we present the scheme to members of the public and stakeholders. We consulted on the scheme in 2019 and summer 2020. This feedback, along with ongoing engagement and design development, has been used to shape the scheme and prepare our DCO application.

This does not mean that our DCO application is approved, it is when the Planning Inspectorate decides whether we have submitted all the relevant documentation to allow the application to move forward.

This stage allowed anyone to register as an Interested Party. Interested Parties can submit a written representation or present their views at a public hearing. The Planning Inspectorate formally appointed a panel of inspectors to serve as the Examining Authority, and the first meeting will be held to discuss procedural issues and the timetable for examination, called the Preliminary Meeting.

This is a six-month process when the Examining Authority will examine the DCO application against the tests in the National Policy Statement for National Networks.

The Examining Authority will assess feedback from the public and stakeholders through written representations and the hearings. If you have registered as an Interested Party in the pre-examination phase, you can make a representation.

Following the end of the six-month examination stage, the Examining Authority will have three months to write a recommendation report and submit it to the Secretary of State for Transport.

The Secretary of State for Transport then has up to three months to make the final decision on whether to grant our DCO.

If the Secretary of State for Transport grants the DCO, this is the final stage of the process and provides a six-week window for anyone with legal grounds to challenge the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision through judicial review.

This is when scheme construction will start.


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