A new 17 acre business park could be built
The Airpark – to be built next to the Flybe Hangar – is one of the four planned ‘Enterprise Zones’ – but the substandard nature of Long Lane and the limitations to current highway network are a direct barrier to it coming forward.
An enhancement scheme, which will see the widening of Long Lane from the Airport Terminal entrance, past the hangers and the FlyBe Academy/Hampton by Hilton hotel through to Harrier Court in the east.
The £3m scheme will provide sufficient access in order to develop the Airpark and will be forward funded by East Devon District Council.
While Long Lane is being widened, a new road to connect Silverdown Office Park to the FlyBe Academy access road, known as the “Silverdown Link”, will be built, and when the Long Lane works are finished, the Silverdown Link will become a permanent bus only link.
The cabinet unanimously recommend to full council to borrow up to £3m against ring fenced business rate income to implement the scheme and enter in to a funding agreement with Devon County Council to deliver it.
Next Wednesday, Devon County Council’s cabinet are asked to approve the construction of the works and that land be acquired for it.
The scheme includes:
- the construction of a roundabout adjacent to Car Park 1 at the Airport
- Widening of the carriageway between Car Park 1 and the FlyBe Academy/Hampton by Hilton hotel will take place to ensure a road width of 6.5m and footway is achieved and to ensure tie-in to the proposed roundabout junction
- Widening is proposed to maintain a width of 6.5m and footway from the Training Academy/Hotel to Harrier Court
- A carriageway will be constructed between Silverdown Office Park and the Flybe Training Academy Access Road to facilitate the works taking place on Long Lane and then to be a bus loop
Asking for funding approval, Andy Wood, Projects Director, told the cabinet the Long Lane enhancement scheme is required to deliver the Airpark scheme. He said: “Without this, no development at the 17 acre Airpark site can come forward.”
He added: “This scheme will also help to improve the approach to Exeter Airport as a major gateway to the region, improve pedestrian and cycling links and signage, facilitate enhanced public transport connectivity to the Airpark site, Flybe Hangar and Training Academy and the Airport Hotel, support wider investment, in particular the France-Alderney-Britain (FAB) connector project and to enable prospective future development, including the expansion of the Airport, to come forward.
“This will help to facilitate future development including expansion of the Airport and additional airside development going forward. The Long Lane enhancement scheme is a vital infrastructure improvement that is needed to unlock development at the Airpark site as well as to secure a wider set benefits. It is clear that the scheme does bring significant benefits.”
East Devon District Council will borrow the money required to forward fund the improvements through the Enterprise Zone programme and enters in to a legal agreement with the county council to deliver the scheme.
A contribution of £300,000 from the Airpark and £670,000 from the FAB project are expected to be recouped by the council, contingent upon these development projects being realised, and the report said that every year of delay will cost circa £420,000 of lost business rate income.
The cabinet backed the option to implement the full scheme now. Mr Wood said: “The earliest the scheme could commence is the summer of this year and would take approximately six months to complete. This would provide the earliest means of the unlocking the Airpark site and would also offer a number of wider benefits, not least in terms supporting both the Airport and Flybe at a critical time in their history.”
He added though that this was a risk as the contribution from the FAB project is dependent upon the project proceeding, but it has been delayed by Brexit. Mr Wood added: “As this has been delayed by the Brexit process and is dependent upon approval of the French regulator and final investment approval, the project currently has an embargo on incurring further fees which is expected to last for 12 months.”
But the cabinet unanimously agreed that although it was a risk, they should proceed with the scheme.
Next week, Devon County Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve the scheme for construction, and a report to the cabinet adds: “The proposed enhancement will secure a number of wider benefits including supporting enhanced public transport connectivity and the future growth of the Airport. Funding is available to deliver the scheme through the Enterprise Zone and provides an excellent opportunity to deliver the vital infrastructure improvement and to secure a wider set of benefits.”