Funding has been agreed for improvements to the A382
Essential improvements on a strategically important ‘golden highway’ to Newton Abbot will begin later this year.
The first phase of improvement works on the A382, between Forches Cross and Newton Abbot, are due to commence during Autumn 2019 and will be delivered by Devon County Council.
Improvements to the A382 are identified as the council’s top priority in terms of transport provision, as the road between Newton Abbot and the Drumbridges roundabout is one of the worst performing A roads in Devon with collision rates 55 per cent higher than the national average for this type of road.
Teignbridge District Council on Tuesday morning agreed to contribute of up to £5.1 million towards phase one of the A382 improvements, with the money coming from some Community Infrastructure Levy contributions from development that has already happened, but principally from future development planned to take place in the district.
Cllr Gordon Hook, leader of Teignbridge District Council, said that he did support the necessary improvements to the road network, but admitted that road users may face disruption while the works take place.
He said: “This scheme likely to be 18 months in the gestation will in the short term cause discomfort for road users, but the short term pain will hopefully be rewarded with a much safer road, and the safety of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists should be in our minds. The road has a poor accident record and hope that this will eliminate that and this is a necessary improvement to our road network.”
He also called for officers to reemphasise the council’s support towards the plans to reopen the existing Heathfield rail line.
Cllr Jackie Hook added this part off Newton Abbot is set to have a large amount of housing imposed on it so it was a really important scheme to improve the transport corridor in the area, as around nearly 2,000 homes are planned for Houghton Barton.
She said: “The road has a high accident rate and it is difficult to walk and cycle on. It is very important that we make it a sustainable travel corridor and I am happy to endorse this as a sustainable travel corridor. This could be a route where lots of people cycle on, there is and a reliable bus service, and a lower amount of cars, but this vision for the future is impossible to happen on the road as it is at present, so we have to spend to make it a sustainable travel corridor.”
Cllr Phil Bullivant, leader of the opposition Conservative group added that he endorsed the spending of the money from Community Infrastructure Levy contributions from developers, adding: “It is essential that this gets put in place.”
He though said he wanted to see the council endorse all three phases of the A382 improvements, not just phase one.
Phase two of the scheme involves the Houghton Barton Link Road between the A382 and A383, and a planning application has been submitted by Devon County Council to Teignbridge District Council for the scheme.
Phase three would involve the upgrading of the section of the A382 between Forches Cross and Drumbridges, but also the revised Jetty Marsh II Link Road that connects Whitehill Cross to the existing Jetty Marsh Road.
Fergus Pate, Principal Delivery Officer, though told councillors that the planning application for Jetty Marsh II had just been submitted. He added that future phases of the A382 works would come forward, but not without phase one being completed.
He added that Devon County Council are preparing a bid for further funding to deliver the rest of the improvements by 2024 through the Major Road Networks, and said: “If we don’t make progress now, it will be less likely of any success with the MRN as if we can’t get phase one under way then they will think how can we get the rest to happen.”
Questions were asked what would happen if development didn’t go ahead as outlined in the Local Plan, but Mr Pate said: “This is a strategic road to serve Newton Abbot and the heart of Teignbridge which is growing. Irrespective of where the development occurs, this is a main artery for this part of the district, so it would function as an improved road regardless of where precisely development happens.”
Mr Pate said that the A382 is one of the worst performing A roads in Devon with collision rates 55 per cent higher than the national average for this type of road, and so there would be safety improvements from the implementation of modern A road design standards.
Of the £13m for the costs of the improvements, £6.5m comes from the Local Enterprise Partnership, £1.4m from developer contributions to Devon County Council, and £5.1m is set to come from Community Infrastructure Levy funds that Teignbridge District Council holds, but the LEP funding can only be unlocked if Teignbridge contributed to the scheme.
Councillors on Tuesday morning voted almost unanimously to approve the £5.1m contribution towards the A382 improvements, with only the three Newton Says No councillors voting against it.
Cllr Richard Daws, from Newton Says No, had: “I have sat on that road many times in traffic jams and that I cannot see how this helps. It feels like just funnelling more traffic into Newton Abbot. From a pipedream perspective, I would like to see a bypass from the A380 that bypasses Newton Abbot completely.”
Mr Pate had said that the council had three options they could choose. To confirm the £5.1m of contributions to the A382 scheme, to only confirm the £2.5m in the 2018-2022 capital programme, or to not to fund the A382 scheme at all.
He said: “In either of the latter two scenarios the Growth Deal funding will not be available, the Phase 1 improvements will not be delivered and the delivery of the whole A382 transport corridor would be at risk.
“Confirming a commitment to the phase 1 works and moving on to commencement will be more likely to pave the way for government funding support to complete future phases along the A382 corridor. Conversely, a failure to commit to the scheme would risk undermining the entire programme.”