Cultural heritage asset management plans for National Highways
English roads are notorious for their poor condition and unevenness. However, this may change by 2040, as a wide-ranging retrofit of the strategic road network (SRN) will have been completed to improve the environment and help the network fit more seamlessly with its surroundings. Environmental improvements, such as for noise, carbon, flood risk management, water, landscape and biodiversity, will be developed.
The SRN is split into 13 asset support contract (ASC) areas. For each ASC area, a cultural heritage asset management plan (CHAMP) is required by the Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate. The plan involves detailed assessments, consultations with stakeholders, enactments of agreed actions, monitoring the results of those actions and monitoring the state of identified assets.
National Highways has a series of funds, including a £300-million environment and wellbeing designated fund (EWDF), which is included as part of the roads investment strategy to deliver interventions on the SRN that go beyond business as usual. Service providers can apply for funding from the EWDF for projects that align with the environmental vision and improve the SRN’s environmental performance. RSK is responsible for conducting feasibility studies to qualify with Highways England for the first round of funding.
Since 2015, RSK has carried out work at various stages for multiple areas according to the requirements, scope and terminology set out in the ASCs’ CHAMPs. In 2017–19, RSK supported Kier Highways as a service provider to Highways England in delivering CHAMP feasibility assessments in ASC Area 9. In 2018–19, RSK was appointed to undertake CHAMP summary assessments and feasibility desk studies for heritage assets in ASC Areas 6 and 8. In 2021, RSK was appointed to produce updated management plans for 4 ASCs concurrently, using newly updated guidance.
Collectively, RSK’s heritage consultants have more experience with the CHAMP process than any other single organisation. We have worked in 10 of the 13 areas, from first iteration CHAMPs to detailed EWDF applications and delivery of funded projects. This experience has enabled us to negotiate and innovate methods to save time and money while delivering high quality plans. Our feedback has been taken forward by National Highways to improve and update the process on a national level.