Council announces ambitious bid as part of Levelling Up

Train 166 Portishead Railway

Train 166 Portishead Railway - Credit: Archant

I am absolutely delighted to report that the county council has submitted an ambitious bid to the Government for five key projects across Devon as part of the Levelling Up Fund.

Now the phrase levelling up has already become something of a cliché but I won’t mind what it’s called if we’re successful.

The five bids include a railway station and transport hub at Okehampton to support the new passenger service to Exeter, a new slip road off the A38 to by-pass the village of Lee Mill and a new trail along the Teign Estuary.

We’re hoping for some £73 million of Government support with Devon County Council contributing almost £6 million.

For readers in East Devon, those are fairly distant schemes. Of more interest to you locally are the new relief road planned for Cullompton town centre and, even more locally, the completion of the Dinan Road extension in Exmouth.

I know this has been a long-awaited scheme in Exmouth to provide the final connection to the A376 for what is now only a partial ring road around the town.

As a result, traffic from Dinan Way has to use unsuitable residential roads, particularly goods vehicles accessing the Liverton Business Park area.

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Our proposals, which secured planning permission in 2017, will not only provide the extension to the A376 but also improved pedestrian and cycle connections to the Exe Estuary multi-use trail and have potential for better bus services to Exeter.

The proposals are supported by the local county councillors Jeff Trail and Richard Scott and by MP Simon Jupp who had to give it his blessing before it could be submitted to the Government. 

I know the district council also has plans to submit a bid focusing on the regeneration of the town centre and I believe this will all greatly enhance Exmouth for residents and visitors.

From road to rail and from a new bid to one in which we were very successful. Work is now well under way on the new railway station to serve the Marsh Barton industrial estate in Exeter.

As a county council, we’ve invested over £5 million in this scheme which will have real benefits for people commuting into Exeter from East Devon.

And we were buoyed when the Government announced its support for the project with a grant of £3.1 million from the new stations fund.

Around 7,000 people work at Marsh Barton with around half of them commuting into Exeter from outside the city. Obviously many thousands more commute in from East Devon to other parts of Exeter.

In fact, more than a quarter of Exmouth residents – 27 per cent – work in Exeter with almost a fifth - 19 per cent - of Honiton residents and 15 per cent of Sidmouth residents travelling into the city to work.

At the moment, people can catch a train on the Exmouth line into Exeter and continue to St Thomas but it can be quite a hike to then get to Marsh Barton. 

The new station is being built next to the incinerator and will have both up and down platforms. It will allow direct access to the industrial estate as well as providing for people who want to visit the valley park and Exeter quayside.

This will enable people to leave their cars at home if they wish or join the train at one of the stations on the Exmouth line and avoid some of the traffic congestion in the city. This will have the welcome effect of reducing emissions and contributing to our commitment to be zero carbon by 2030.

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