Town centre improvements will go forward for funding bid
- Credit: Archant
Plans for town centre improvements for Exmouth will feature in a package of countywide projects to 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, June 9, 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:
Exmouth – Completion of Dinan Way and town centre improvements
Teign Estuary Trail and associated cycle links
Lee Mill – Slip road and associated local improvements
Okehampton – new rail station & transport hub
Cullompton – Town Centre Relief Road
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.
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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.