Essex Highways, Safer, Greener, Healthier

A120 to A133 Link Road and Rapid Transit System


In 2019 Essex County Council successfully bid for funding to help support planned housing growth across the county.

Essex’s bids to the Government's Housing Infrastructure Fund totalled more than £500 million, covering vital transport infrastructure improvements in Colchester, Harlow and Chelmsford.

To enable Essex County Council to support sustainable planned growth, there is a necessity for high-quality transport infrastructure.

This will help manage additional traffic and enhance the connectivity of future developments as well as supporting the provision of public transport.

In August 2019 it was announced that the A120/A133 Link Road and the Colchester Rapid Transit System (RTS) scheme had been successful in securing funding, receiving £99milion. 

Following an assessment of route options, a consultation was held in November 2019, leading to Essex County Council's Cabinet approving a preferred route in May 2020.

For more information on the scheme visit our frequently asked questions.

Need for the Scheme

Linking the A120 and A133 will enable people to more easily access the A120 and A12, reducing the need to travel directly into Colchester and helping to manage congestion on more local roads.

The Link Road will also play a direct link in helping to unlock land to provide housing, business and leisure space. 

There will be approximately 25,000 new homes built within Tendring and Colchester by 2033, including the new Tendring Colchester Garden Community.

This development will see 7,500 - 9,000 new homes as well as business, leisure and recreational spaces created over the coming decades. 

Ultimately forming part of the Garden Community as it develops the Link Road will create accesses into and from it, creating easy access to the A120, while also providing a connection to the new Rapid Transport System.

To read more on the Garden Community plans visit

What is being proposed

The Link Road will see the creation of a 50mph dual-carriageway between the A120 and A133. Walking and cycling facilities will also be provided, which will ultimately join up with the Garden Community facilities once developed.

Following consideration of consultation responses, engineering, environmental and design, it was agreed to adopt ‘Option 1C variant’ as the preferred route for the Link Road.

Option 1C was the favoured route option in the consultation and the amendments made will lessen the impact on existing properties, Strawberry Grove, Turnip Lodge Lane (a protected lane) and nearby communities, while still meeting the objectives of the scheme.

The planned route will leave the A133 via a roundabout east of the University of Essex, joining the A120 via a junction east of Bromley Road. 

The proposals have now reached a stage in which they are being submitted to planning. If approved, the aim is for works to begin in 2022 with the road due to be completed in 2024.


Scheme timeline

Rapid Transit System proposals

The successful Housing Infrastructure Fund bid also saw funding provided for the first elements of a new Rapid Transit System for Colchester.

This will see the development of a route running from the existing Park and Ride on the A12, through the town centre, heading east to the Tendring Colchester Garden Community and a proposed new 'park and Choose' site. 

Park and Choose is an evolution of Park and Ride, creating a transport hub for people looking to access other forms of transport. For example, it could offer cycle storage and lockers, electric bikes, connections into the wider bus network as well as parking facilities.

What makes an RTS unlike other public transport is that will see high frequency (every ten minutes or less) services on segregated or priority corridors, so meaning it takes priority over other traffic. 

For the purpose of delivery, the RTS proposals have been split into four sections. Section A uses an already approved route between the Park and Ride site on the A12 and the Albert Roundabout. 

Section D covers the section within the Garden Community itself and would be considered as part of the masterplanning process. The consultation held in 2019, therefore, looked at Section B from the Albert Roundabout to the Greenstead Roundabout and Section C from the Greenstead Roundabout to the Garden Community.

Within the consultation, several route options were set out. The comments and views given were assessed alongside the engineering feasibility and the ability to meet the overall objectives.

It has been agreed that Options B2 and B5 and Options C1 and C2 along with the route through the town centre will now be further developed ahead of a final route selection.

Link Road planning application

The A120/A133 Link Road will require planning consent from Essex County Council. Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992 gives Essex County Council, as the County Planning Authority, power to determine planning applications relating to its own service, where it intends to develop the land itself or jointly with others.

All planning documents are available to view via the planning website

Following early feedback from landowners and statutory consultees through consultation, an addendum was submitted, with a number of minor amendments to the proposed scheme. See the amended planning statement.

The amendments submitted include changes to several access arrangements, changes to the A120 slip roads, updates to the drainage and fencing design and the relocation of an attenuation Pond to the eastern side of the Link Road.

The documents available with the ‘Associated Documents’ section of the website are set out as follows:

Application Form and Certificates - This is a standard form, setting out what the application is for, who is making the application and a brief description of what is proposed

Planning Supporting Documents - All planning applications need supporting documentation which are required to be provided by the applicant. As a major application there are a number for the link road:

  • Applicant Completed Validation Checklist - A checklist to ensure all appropriate documentation is submitted
  • Essex Biodiversity Validation Checklist - A checklist to ensure conformity with national biodiversity policy and legislation
  • Biodiversity Metric 2.0 Calculation - A way of measuring and accounting for biodiversity losses and gains resulting from development or land management change
  • Environmental Management Plan - To be read alongside the Environmental Statement the EMP outlines all of the information required to manage environmental effects as the scheme progresses into construction and through to operation
  • Outline Construction Management Plan - An overview of a potential construction methodology and sequence of works for the proposed scheme
  • Traffic Modelling Report - Presents findings of transport modelling which identify impacts of the proposed scheme on the performance of the highway network
  • Outdoor Lighting Report - A summary of the lighting design for the link road
  • Preliminary Drainage Strategy - An overview of the drainage strategy to be used for the proposed scheme. The strategy will form part of the submission to the local planning authority as part of a future planning application
  • Utilities Assessment - An assessment on the diversion of existing utilities caused by the proposed scheme
  • Public Involvement Programme - An overview of consultation and engagement activity and how this has helped shape the route and design
  • Covering Letter - An introductory letter setting out the proposals
  • Planning Statement - Sets out how the link road complies with adopted and emerging planning policy, as well as other relevant material considerations.
  • Preliminary Mineral Resource Assessment - An initial report to assess the proposed scheme against relevant mineral safeguarding policies
  • Stage 1 Road Safety Audit - Details on a road safety audit undertaken

Drawings and Plans - Within this section, technical drawings and plans are set out across a series of PDFs. These include:

  • Site Location Plan - Showing where the proposed scheme is located
  • General Arrangement - Showing how the Link Road and associated infrastructure will be laid out
  • Plan and Profile Drawings - Showing the gradient and levels of the road
  • Structural Drawings - Showing key elements of infrastructure such as the overbridge and underpass
  • Typical Cross-Sections - Showing a cross-section at various points on the scheme
  • Fencing drawings - Showing where and what type of fencing will be installed
  • Lighting Arrangements and Isolux drawings - Showing where and what type of lighting will be implemented and levels of light spill
  • Drainage Layout Sheets / Proposed Catchments - Showing the required drainage measures and where catchment areas will be

Environmental Statement documents - In developing this sort of scheme, an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ is required to determine the impact on the environment during both construction and operation. The findings of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are reported and explained in detail within the Environmental Statement (ES). This is set out over four volumes.

Volume 1 provides a summary of the Environmental Statement in non-technical language.

Volume 2 is the main text and incorporates chapters on the garden community and its association with the proposed scheme, the EIA process and approach, air quality, cultural heritage, biodiversity, landscape, geology and soils, noise and vibration, road drainage and the water environment, population and human health, climate and cumulative effects

Volumes 3 and 4 are technical appendices and figures referred to within the Environmental Statement.

Details can be seen in the tables below:

Volume 2 – Main text



1: Introduction

Introduces the scheme and the purpose of the ES before outlining the scheme’s objectives and legislative context.

2: The Proposed Scheme

Documents the need for, location of, and description of the scheme during construction and operation. This description is used as a basis for the EIA.

3: Garden Community

Provides further information on the proposed Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community and its association with the scheme.

4: Scoping and consultation

Reports on the consultation undertaken for the scheme to date. Documents the influence of consultation on design and technical assessments reported within the ES.

5: EIA Process and Approach

Outlines the approach to the assessments undertaken and reported within the ES.

6: Air Quality

7: Cultural Heritage

8: Biodiversity

9: Landscape

10: Geology and Soils

11: Noise and Vibration

12: Road Drainage and the Water Environment

13: Population and Human Health

14: Climate

Chapters 6 to 14 assess the environmental effects of the scheme. The structure of each chapter is broadly consistent, comprising: Introduction, Legislation and Policy, Scoping and Consultation, Assumptions and Limitations, Methodology and Assessment Criteria, Baseline Environment, Impact Assessment, Mitigation and Enhancement, Monitoring, Residual Effects, Intra-project Effects, Summary, References, Figures.

15: Cumulative Effects

As well as a summary of intra-project effects from Chapters 6 to 14, this chapter provides an assessment of the effects between the scheme and third-party developments considered within a defined zone of influence.

16: Summary of Residual Effects

Provides a summary of the significant residual effects following mitigation reported in Chapters 6 to 15.

Volume 3 – Technical Appendices 


Technical Appendices

1: Introduction

1.1 Scoping opinion

1.2 Compliance with the EIA Regulations

1.3 Statement of Competency

1.4 Legislation and Policy

2: The Proposed Scheme

2.1 Summary of Environmental Options Appraisal Addendum

2.2 Embedded Mitigation

2.3 Log of Plant

3: Garden Community


4: Scoping and consultation


5: EIA Process and Approach


6: Air Quality

7: Cultural Heritage

8: Biodiversity

9: Landscape

10: Geology and Soils

11: Noise and Vibration

12: Road Drainage and the Water Environment

13: Population and Human Health

14: Climate

6.1 Air Quality Survey Methodology

6.2 Air Quality Dispersion Modelling Process

6.3 Air Quality Model Verification and Adjustment

6.4 Construction Dust Assessment

6.5 Air Quality Assessment Results

7.1 Cultural Heritage Desk-Based Study

7.2 A120/A133 Road Scheme: Desktop Geoarchaeological Assessment

8.1 UK Habitat Classification Survey

8.2 Hedgerow Regulations Assessment

8.3 Great Crested Newt Survey Report

8.4 Bat Survey Report

8.5 Dormouse Survey Report

8.6 Water Vole Survey Report

8.7 Breeding Bird Survey Report

8.8 Wintering Bird Survey Report

8.9 Reptile Survey Report

8.10 Information to Support HRA

9.1 LVIA Criteria

9.2 Zone of Theoretical Visibility Methodology

9.3 Published Sources of Landscape Character

9.4 Representative Viewpoints

9.5 Illustrative Viewpoints

9.6 Landscape Effects Schedules

9.7 Visual Effects Schedule

9.8 Photomontages

9.9 Visualisation Methodology

9.10 Indicative Plant Species Mixes

9.11 Arboricultural Impact Assessment and Arboricultural Method Statement

10.1 A120/A133 Link Road Desktop Study

11.1 Acoustics Terminology

11.2 Noise Model Inputs and Assumptions

11.3 Predicted Noise Levels at all NSR

12.1 Flood Risk Assessment

12.2 Water Framework Directive Assessment

12.3 HEWRAT Assessment

12.4 Groundwater Assessment

12.5 Borrow Pit Dewatering Assessment

12.6 Summary of Road Drainage and Water Environment Potential Effects

14.1 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment

14.2 Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Chapter 15: Cumulative Effects

15.1 Construction Phase Intra Project Effect Matrix

15.2 Operation Phase Intra Project Effect Matrix

15.3 Short-list of Developments for Inter-project Cumulative Effects

15.4 Inter-project Cumulative Effects Assessment

15.5 Committed Developments Scoping of Future Receptors

Chapter 16: Summary of Residual Effects


Volume 4 - Figures


Volume 4 - Figures

1: Introduction

1.1: Proposed Scheme and Planning Application Boundary

2: The Proposed Scheme

2.1: Alternative Options Considered

2.2: Location Plan

2.3: Environmental Constraints

2.4: Indicative Landscape and Environmental Design

2.5: Indicative Landscape and Environmental Design Cross Sections

2.6: Site Compounds and Haul Routes

3: Garden Community

3.1: Broad Location of the Garden Community

4: Scoping and consultation


5: EIA Process and Approach


6: Air Quality

7: Cultural Heritage

8: Biodiversity

9: Landscape

10: Geology and Soils

11: Noise and Vibration

12: Road Drainage and the Water Environment

13: Population and Human Health

14: Climate

6.1a: Air Quality Constraints (Human Health)

6.1b: Air Quality Constraints (Designated Ecological Habitats)

6.1c: Air Quality Constraints (Compliance Risk)

6.2: Modelled Human Health Receptors (Sheets 1-5)

6.3: Human Health Receptor Results (NO2) (Sheets 1-5)

6.4: Nitrogen Deposition Results (Sheets 1-16)

6.5: Compliance Risk Results

6.6: Construction Dust Assessment

6.7: Modelled Road Canyons (Sheets 1-2)

7.1: Cultural Heritage Elements - Designated Assets

7.2: Cultural Heritage Elements - Non-designated Assets

7.3: Cultural Heritage Elements - Historic Landscape Character

7.4: Plan of Route Corridor and Locations of the Ground Investigation Works

7.5: Plan of Route Corridor and Geoarchaeological Transects

8.1: Key Habitat Features

8.2: Bat Survey Results

8.3: Dormouse Records

8.4: Breeding Birds: Territories of Key Species

8.5: Reptile and Brown Hare Records

9.1: Landscape Context

9.2: Landscape Planning Constraints

9.3: Published Landscape Character Areas

9.4: Viewpoints and Zone of Theoretical Visibility – Bare Earth

9.5: Viewpoints and Zone of Theoretical Visibility – Incorporating Screening

9.6: Visual Effects

10.1: Geoenvironmental Constraints

10.2: Agricultural Land Classification

11.1: Construction Noise Assessment Context Plan

11.2: Operational Noise Assessment Context Plan

11.3a to 11.3f: Operational Noise Change Contour Plots:

11.3a: Short Term Noise Change, Do Minimum 2026 vs Do Something 2026, Daytime

11.3b: Long Term Noise Change, Do Minimum 2026 vs Do Something 2041, Daytime

11.3c: Long Term Noise Change, Non Project, Do Minimum 2026 vs Do Minimum 2041, Daytime

11.3d: Short Term Noise Change, Do Minimum 2026 vs Do Something 2026, Night Time

11.3e: Long Term Noise Change, Do Minimum 2026 vs Do Something 2041, Night Time

11.3f: Long Term Noise Change, Non Project, Do Minimum 2026, vs Do Minimum 2041, Night Time

11.4a: Operational Noise Predicted Do Something Future Year (2041) noise levels with inclusion of Garden Community Daytime

11.4b: Operational Noise Predicted Do Something Future Year (2041) noise levels with inclusion of Garden Community Night Time

11.5: Operational Noise Significant Effects at Noise Sensitive Receptors

12.1: Study area

12.2: Surface Water Environment

12.3: WFD Water Body Outlines – Tenpenny Brook and Sixpenny Brook

12.4: Groundwater Features

12.5: Fluvial flood risk

12.6: Surface water flood risk

12.7: Susceptibility to Groundwater Flooding

13.1: Population and Human Health Context and Baseline

14.1: Extent of the Traffic Model for the Climate Assessment

Chapter 15: Cumulative Effects

15.1: Cumulative Effects – Shortlisted Developments

Chapter 16: Summary of Residual Effects


PublicityA site notice which will be located close to the site outlining the application and how people can provide comments as part of the consultation.

OtherAn Environmental Agency consultation checklist will be completed by the council and sent to the Environment Agency to explain why they are being consulted.