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Could Exmouth road be completed after 40 years?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022 7:22pm

By Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter

Dinan Way, Exmouth (courtesy: Google Maps)

Another bid for £500k for Dinan Way

Almost half a million pounds of East Devon District Council’s money will go towards an extension of Dinan Way in Exmouth – if the government provides funding.

The work has been mooted on and off for 40 years, with residents used to the prospect of the road being ‘completed,’ in the local parlance, flaring up and then receding.

Currently it forms a partial ring road around Exmouth, but it lacks a final connection to the A376 Exeter road.

Now a new bid is being made to the second round of Westminster’s ‘levelling-up’ fund for the project to link Dinan Way – a lengthy road extending from the Exmouth/Budleigh Salterton road through a major residential area – through to the main A376 Exeter road.

A previous application was rejected last year.

The wider scheme, being put forward in partnership with Devon County Council, also includes improved pedestrian and cycle connections to the Exe Estuary trail, as well as other walking and cycling improvements focusing on the regeneration of the town centre.

The total cost would be £20 million, the vast majority of which is being sought from the government.

The county council says the extension, which has had planning permission since 2017, will provide an “improved pedestrian/cycle connection to the Exe Estuary multi-use trail and has potential for better bus services to Exeter.

“It will also enable significantly faster journey times by buses with a more direct link to the A376,” a report to Devon’s ruling cabinet stated last month.

However, despite East Devon District Council approving £400,000 of money from developers towards the project if the government also approves funding, not all councillors are on board with the idea.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday [7 June], former leader Councillor Ben Ingham (Conservative, Woodbury and Lympstone) cited climate concerns, saying that building a “new road of this nature which is not essential is fundamentally wrong and we shouldn’t be doing it.

“It’s disappointing to me that Devon County Council consider this appropriate, because it isn’t essential.

“It will just move traffic jams from one part of East Devon to five, 10 minutes away and compound issues at Clyst St Mary and junction 30 of the M5.”

Cllr Ingham called for the money to be spent instead on regenerating the centre of Exmouth, “which is of tremendous value to our community.”

But the majority of the committee backed the proposal, including Cllr Mike Howe (Conservative, Clyst Valley).

He said: “For every piece of sense and common sense of trying to drive around that area this road needs to go ahead unfortunately.  It doesn’t solve the ultimate problem of the [A376] but it’ll alleviate the bit in Exmouth, so I’ll support it.”

Cllr Kevin Blakey (Independent, Cranbrook) added that having a road which is more efficent and prevents traffic jams would be “actually green in itself” and said the scheme was “the right thing to do.”

The bid has also received the backing of East Devon MP Simon Jupp, who wrote in the Exmouth Journal in May: “It would undoubtedly reduce congestion on the A376, ease traffic flow throughout our town, improve bus services and enhance cycle connections to the Exe Estuary trail.”

Exmouth’s bid for ‘levelling-up’ funding is one of five across Devon, including a new relief road for Cullompton, a new train station on the re-opened Okehampton railway line and upgrades to Newton Abbot’s Penn Inn underpass.

Committee members approved East Devon’s potential contribution by 11 votes to two. The council will hear whether the bid has been successful at a later date.

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