Plans for a new transport hub, two relief roads, and town centre improvements for Exmouth will be put forward in a bid to get nearly £100m of Government cash. Devon County Council’s cabinet, when they met at County Hall in person on Wednesday morning, unanimously agreed with the recommendation to give approval for the council to work with the relevant district councils to submit bids to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
LEVELLING UP BIDS
Plans for a new transport hub, two relief roads, and town centre improvements for Exmouth will be put forward in a bid to get nearly £100m of Government cash.
Devon County Council’s cabinet, when they met at County Hall in person on Wednesday morning, unanimously agreed with the recommendation to give approval for the council to work with the relevant district councils to submit bids to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Announced at the 2020 Spending Review, the Fund aims to support communities in order to regenerate town centres, enable investment in cultural facilities or upgrade local transport infrastructure.
A programme of schemes in Devon have been identified which cover a range of transport modes and spread the bids over a wide geography, with each scheme demonstrating a net gain in biodiversity, a reduction in carbon and air quality improvements.
The five schemes identified are:
Okehampton – new rail station & transport hub
Cullompton – Town Centre Relief Road
Exmouth – Completion of Dinan Way and town centre improvements
Teign Estuary Trail and associated cycle links
Lee Mill – Slip road and associated local improvements
The schemes for Okehampton, Cullompton and Exmouth will be submitted in the first round of bids, with the Teign Estuary Trail and Lee Mill to follow in later rounds.
Dave Black, head of planning, transportation and environment, in his report to the cabinet, said: “All the schemes will have a valid permission which will demonstrate a net gain in biodiversity, a reduction in carbon and air quality improvements. There is a wide range of schemes including a rail station, two strategic multi-use trails and highway schemes aimed at reducing the impact of traffic on sensitive residential areas and town centres.”
Backing the plans, Cllr Andrea Davis, cabinet member for transport, said: “All the schemes have widespread support,” with her adding that the Dinan Way extension would now be a bid submitted by Devon County Council in order to free up capacity for East Devon District Council’s plan for Exmouth town centre.
She said that the new Okehampton stations would be known as the ‘West Devon Transport Hub’ and that while Torridge and North Devon are not mentioned in the report, it is because those councils will be submitting non-transport related schemes for improvements to Bideford and Ilfracombe respectively.
Cllr Rob Hannaford, leader of the Labour group, said: “These are very good solid bids and many of them long standing and historic and clearly they are much needed,” while Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, added: “These are a wonderful set of proposals and many ready for submission and to go. Collectively they will have an enormous benefit for residents and visitors across Devon as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Cllr Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for cycling, added that the Teign Estuary Trail would be submitted in a later round for the fund in order for a stronger bid to be put forward if it has planning permission.
Devon County Council has been supported by Teignbridge District Council in preparing the proposals to develop a 5km section of multi-use trail between Passage House Inn in Newton Abbot and the A381 at La Roche Maurice Walk, east of Bishopsteignton.
The Trail will also include a shared-use path connecting from the A381 to the junction near Morrisons supermarket, at the western edge of Teignmouth. However further design work is being undertaken on this link which does not require planning permission.
A planning application has been submitted for the next phase of the Teign Estuary Trail, although it is yet to be validated on the relevant planning portal for public comment.
Cllr Hughes added: “This is another important step in the development of the Teign Estuary Trail, which will have a positive impact on the economy and environment of the local area as well as benefiting local people’s health and wellbeing. We’ve seen that the majority of the public who responded to last year’s consultation supported the route and we’re keen to progress this next 5km of the route.”
The total cost of the programme for the five schemes is approximately £92m, the report says, which would include £74.3m in capital grant from Government, £12m from other contributions and a contribution of £5.7m from Devon County Council.
Working with West Devon Borough Council, a bid for a West Devon Transport Hub in Okehampton will be submitted.
The transport hub will include a new rail station – Okehampton Parkway – close to the emerging development and the junction off the A30 to the east of Okehampton.
Devon County Council currently owns the necessary land and the hub will include facilities for bus connections, cycle facilities and electric vehicle charging at the car park. The aim is to provide an interchange for Okehampton and the rural hinterland stretching up to Holsworthy, Hatherleigh and North Cornwall, which currently has poor connectivity to the national rail network.
Working with Mid Devon District Council, a bid for funding for the Cullompton Town Centre Relief Road will be submitted.
The relief road will enable traffic to be removed from the High Street therefore improving air quality and enabling further regeneration of the historic core of Cullompton, and was granted planning permission in January 2021.
Mid Devon District Council have secured £10m in funding from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, but this is considered insufficient taking into account the high cost of land acquisition, mitigation work related to relocation of sports facilities, pedestrian/cycle facilities and construction costs.
A bid which includes the Dinan Way extension will be submitted by Devon County Council.
Dinan Way currently forms a partial ring road around Exmouth, but it lacks the final connection to the A376, and as a result, traffic from Dinan Way has to use unsuitable residential road, and furthermore, goods vehicles accessing the Liverton Business Park, surrounding employment & retail area and the road to Budleigh Salterton are signed to travel through residential areas and past the school on the periphery of the town centre.
The Dinan Way extension proposals, which secured planning permission in 2017, will provide an improved pedestrian/cycle connection to the Exe Estuary multi-use trail and has potential for better bus services to Exeter.
This will form part of a wider bid covering Exmouth, with East Devon District Council leading on other proposals focusing on the regeneration of the town centre, including interventions utilising district owned land to enhance the existing town centre assets which could include new mobility opportunities, better accessibility and wayfinding and leisure and cultural attractions.
TEIGN ESTUARY TRAIL
Working with Teignbridge District Council, a bid for the Teign Estuary Trail between Newton Abbot and Teignmouth would be submitted.
Development work on the trail is progressing well and a planning application is due to be submitted imminently, while Teignbridge are also looking at other schemes to link cycle and pedestrian facilities with the new multi-use trail.
It is proposed that the scheme will not be included in the first tranche of LUF bids as a scheme with planning permission, associated mitigation and costs estimates would demonstrate it is deliverable.
Devon County Council will submit a bid for a new Lee Mill eastbound slip road, a bus gate on the existing A38 slip road and improvements for cyclists/pedestrians.
The proposals would provide a new A38 eastbound off-slip at Lee Mill which would connect vehicles exiting the A38 to the industrial estate and village, whilst avoiding unnecessary trips through Lee Mill Village.
The new slip road would leave the elevated A38 and descend towards a new roundabout, providing a tie-in with the existing local road network, which the existing slip road would be stopped up, with access along Plymouth Road retained but returned to an appropriate function, and approval to proceed towards outline design and the planning permission stage was granted by cabinet in February.
The scheme may not be included in the first tranche of LUF bids as a scheme with planning permission, associated mitigation and costs estimates would demonstrate it is deliverable.
The cabinet, when they met on June 9, unanimously agreed to submit the schemes for Okehampton, Cullompton and Exmouth to the Levelling Up Fund. The Teign Estuary Trail and Lee Mill will be included in the next tranche of bids.