Chief executive of Highways England, Graham Dalton, told Traffex delegates that local authorities would play a key role in medium and long-term planning on the strategic roads network.
Mr Dalton went on to describe working with local authorities, communities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as ‘where the action is’ and confirmed that they could play an integral part in the delivery of the new company’s route-based strategies.
Local partners together with major developers would help the government-owned company understand how the national highways network could support residential and commercial developments Mr Dalton said, adding that it would give Highways England a more ‘real time’ view of the nation’s needs.
Speaking at the first major industry event since Highways England was formed out of the Highways Agency on 1 April this year, Mr Dalton also reiterated his belief that technology and automation will be the key advance in tackling capacity issues rather than road tolling.
He added that in an organisation the size of Highways England, with a multi-billion pound annual turnover, local knowledge was essential and had to come from the ground up.
He stressed however that ‘we will not impose ourselves on local authorities but if they want to work with us they are quite welcome’.
Andrew Hugill, director of policy and public affairs at the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, (CIHT) said Mr Dalton’s remarks in his keynote address were ‘very positive and very welcome’.
He revealed that Highways England had already been talking to CIHT about planning issues and suggested there were clear signs that the company was seeking to connect with local authorities and partners.