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Cullompton plan set for referendum

Sunday, April 18th, 2021 8:51am

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

Fore Street, Cullompton (courtesy: Stephen McKay/Creative Commons)

Residents vote next month

A plan that will outline how Cullompton in Mid Devon will change over the next 20 years will go to the vote in May.

With a rapidly expanding population, a new garden village on the horizon and the potential for the return of the railway, it's claimed it location means it could become ‘a communications hub’ for the region.

It says a relief road, which has planning permission, to relieve traffic congestion is imperative, and that the growth in housing must be matched by growth in infrastructure, commercial development and M5 junction 28 improvement.

The planned Culm Garden Village east of junction 28 of the M5 will only be supported provided that measures are put in place to integrate this community with the existing settlement area, the plan says.

It says as well as a new railway station and bus station, there should be a Cullompton park and ride service. The plan also backs campaign for a swimming pool for the town.

Michael Speirs, vice chair of the Cullompton neighbourhood plan steering group, said: ““The neighbourhood plan safeguards existing leisure facilities, as well as helping to bring more provision for the future. It will help bring about the Cullompton swimming and hydrotherapy pool complex. It seeks to ensure the CCA fields remain an important leisure resource and will help sports clubs to prosper and grow.

“The neighbourhood plan also seeks to ensure that new developments are properly supported with essential improvements to Junction 28, the town centre relief road and general infrastructure.

“Everybody on the electoral roll in Cullompton has a vote. Planners and developers will have to show how they have taken the Cullompton neighbourhood plan policies into account but only if you vote in favour in the referendum.”

The vision statement for Cullompton in the plan, says:“The high street will be a pedestrian-friendly economic and social centre for the community, providing a mix of shops, offices, dwellings and places to eat. Further retail will be encouraged in the smaller trading estates bordering the town centre.

“The leisure pursuits of all age groups will be catered for by excellent sports and activity facilities and easy access to the natural, nearby features of countryside and water. Taking advantage of its location, the town will be a communications hub with good links by rail, road, paths and broadband to the region and beyond."

It adds:“The Neighbourhood Plan also provides a firm foundation for continued community involvement with major planning projects such as the garden village, and the provision of high-class sports and recreation facilities, which will become particularly significant in Cullompton given the extensive housing development anticipated over the next decade."

CULM GARDEN VILLAGE

Located east of Cullompton, the garden village could deliver up to 5,000 sustainable new homes in a country park landscape, with jobs, community facilities and transport, all integrated with Cullompton.

But the plan says: “It should seek to create a new settlement area, of unique character, within an outstanding natural environment, foster integration between the existing and new settlement areas, secure sufficient physical connection between the proposed new development to the east and the existing town, plan for complementary facilities in and adjacent to the housing areas that can serve the needs of the whole community of the neighbourhood area, including sports, education, health/ wellbeing, community and faith spaces, provide an appropriate range and scale of spaces for businesses to function effectively, and ensure there is a co-ordinated approach to achieving the timely delivery of infrastructure."

HIGHWAYS, TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC

While not part of the neighbourhood plan, the bid for the reopening of Cullompton railway station continues to gather steam and has moved one step closer.

Cullompton  suffers traffic congestion, particularly in and around the town centre.  Congestion is made worse whenever the M5 is closed and the town centre serves as a relief route. The plan aims to minimise this congestion and its resulting pollution, which has an impact on air quality in the town centre.

The plan also supports the upgrading of the junction 28 of the M5, saying that it is inadequate in terms of capacity and safety. 

“Policies recognises that an essential prerequisite to major development east of Cullompton includes a new or improved access and egress onto the M5 motorway and pedestrian and cycling links across the motorway to the existing town, and policies are supportive of any improvements to junction 28 of the M5 that ensure it functions properly and efficiently and is no longer a cause of complaint and much frustration to local people and businesses, nor a lasting negative memory for many who visit the town

The plan also outlines policies to encourage people to use public transport out of choice rather than need.

It adds: “Cullompton Town Council feels very strongly that, in addition to a new railway station and bus interchange, there should be a Cullompton Park and Ride to provide an integrated local transport service....to get people from home to the bus or train station and so leave their vehicles at home when they go to work."

 HOUSING

No specific sites for new housing are allocated as part of the neighbourhood plan, instead it says the adopted local plan has allocated sufficient land in the appropriate locations to enable Cullompton to grow in an ordered and sustainable manner.

But it adds: “We want to ensure all types of local housing needs are met. This requires new development to respond to the local demand for different types and sizes of dwelling to ensure that the supply of housing in the parish area meets the demand of the local and incoming population and households.”

TOWN CENTRE

Cullompton’s shops are focussed predominantly on the High Street. 

The plan says: “The Cullompton area needs revitalisation. With pro-active guidance and intervention by the town council the process has already begun, but much more is to be done. We wish to ensure the historic buildings and spaces, some of which are currently ‘at risk’, to continue to play a worthwhile role in the life of the town.”

It adds:“The town council aspires to see Fore Street become one-way from the Manor Hotel to the Library (the Hayridge), with short-term parking on one side of the road, and any measures that can help bring this about, which get the support of the community, will be welcomed.

“Design and highways proposals intended to reduce through-traffic on Fore Street and High Street and make the town centre more pedestrian-friendly.”

COMMUNITY AND LEISURE FACILITIES

The plan outlines how the town wants to strengthen and broaden the role of the town centre, attract new businesses and new shops and promote tourism/leisure, and to encourage town centre-based arts and cultural activity.

It says: “Proposals that increase the provision of cultural and leisure facilities in the town centre through the conversion and/or better use of redundant buildings and spaces are supported and proposals that enable the re-use of the former Cullompton Cinema building for community leisure and or cultural purposes would be supported.

Cullompton is blessed with some very good, new, community facilities such as the health centres, the Hayridge Library, Cullompton Community Centre and the Walronds, and several have come about largely because of community action, the plan says.

But it admits that the indoor sport and recreation provision in Cullompton requires significant improvement just to bring the town up to a similar standard as Tiverton and Crediton, with 84 per cent of respondents to the community survey saying the town needs more leisure facilities.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Residents of Cullompton will have the chance to vote on the plan when it goes to a referendum on 6 May.

If more than 50 per cent of those who vote say ‘yes’, the neighbourhood plan will form part of the development plan for Mid Devon.
 

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