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The announcement that 200 new homes were to be built in North Tyneside was great news for everyone in this thriving community.

More places to live, more choice and more work for the building contractor – in this case, Avant Homes.

However, the Section 278 of the Highways Act meant that Avant Homes had to agree with North Tyneside Council (NTC) to expand the surrounding road network to accommodate the extra traffic that the development would create. This involved building a completely new road and widening an existing one, while maintaining construction access to the site and keeping disruption to other road users to a minimum.

Avant Homes’ show home was due to open early in 2020 and, although houses were being built on the site, there was no way that prospective buyers could view them as they were not connected to the nearby A1056, known locally as Killingworth Way. Since this was already a well-used road, connecting it to the new development threatened to cause significant problems.

There was a final level of complication. The new road would need to be completed, and the A1056 widened, within just a few months, as the Avant show home was due to open to the public by early March 2020, and construction was scheduled to start in August 2019. This would see roadbuilding taking place through the winter months when bad weather would make keeping the carriageway clean even more difficult.

Building a road to the future

Since we have a long history of working with local councils on major infrastructure projects, we were able to provide expert support. We started by appointing Rainton Construction, an contractor with experience of road surfacing work, and also used our communication expertise to act as the link between NTC and Avant Homes.

We worked closely with Avant Homes to make sure it would have access to the land while the road was closed for resurfacing. We also liaised with NTC to make sure that the road was swept more often to keep everyone moving.

As the new road would connect to the A1056, we worked with NTC’s streetworks team to keep disruption to a minimum and reduce the need for the A1056 to be completely closed. However, towards the end of the scheme, a full road closure was needed so that the carriageway could be resurfaced. To minimise inconvenience to road users, we carried out the work overnight.

However, there was much more to this project than building the road. We’ve introduced bus stops along the new route to encourage people to make sustainable travel choices and installed crossing points. This should also make life easier for people who want to visit local business parks.

We’ve also installed traffic lights on the new road, making it easier and safer to use and optimising all road users’ experience. There are plans to link these signals with other traffic lights due to be installed nearby.

Keeping everyone in the loop

Finally, we used our in-house specialists to devise a communications and engagement framework. Lack of effective communication can cause reputational damage for all stakeholders, which leads to complaints and makes for unhappy residents and road users. That’s why having such a framework is an essential part of major construction tasks.

Our team kept Rainton Construction, NTC and Avant Homes up to date and used various stakeholder engagement tactics to keep local people informed. We responded to all enquiries within 10 working days and acknowledged them within one. Road users and residents were notified 10 days before any work started, so everyone was prepared.

The project is now finished, and people have full access to the new estate, with a minimum of disruption to residents and road users.

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