Newton Poppleford road closure “chaos” fears grow

Diversions for low vehicles and high vehicles during the three-week closure on the A3052 at Newton P

Diversions for low vehicles and high vehicles during the three-week closure on the A3052 at Newton Poppleford. Low vehicles travelling from Exeter will leave the A3052 at the Halfway Inn and go via the B3180 to Ottery St Mary, returning to the A3052 at Bowd. High vehicles travelling from Exeter will take the A30 to just outside Honiton, returning on the A375 and rejoining the A3052 at Sidford. The red area indicates the section of the A3052 in Newton Poppleford which will be closed due to water main renewal - Credit: Archant

THERE are fears that a major road closure in Newton Poppleford – and the 12.5 mile and 26-mile diversions to avoid it – could cause “chaos”, “knock the village sideways” and bring East Devon to a “standstill”.

Delays are inevitable through Newton Poppleford in the next few months as South West Water replaces

Delays are inevitable through Newton Poppleford in the next few months as South West Water replaces a Victorian water main. Photo: Paul Strange - Credit: Archant

Concerns have also been raised that Newton Poppleford’s Back Lane could block-up as residents seek alternative routes around the village.

In addition there are worries that pedestrians could be at risk if they have to walk more than two miles along the busy A3052 to pick up re-routed buses.

The views – from concerned local residents and businesses – emerged at a busy drop-in consultation meeting held last week at Newton Poppleford Village Hall.

The meeting, arranged by South West Water, was designed to explain the £500,000 water main renewal scheme, scheduled to start in the village on Saturday, October 5 and continuing into 2014, and the diversion routes that will be put in place for the first three weeks of the operation.

A number of points – and suggested solutions – raised at the meeting are currently being considered by South West Water, Devon County Council and Stagecoach buses, and may be implemented to reduce problems.

Meanwhile South West Water has warned of disruption and delays while the work takes place and has apologised to all those affected.

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The road closure is due to replacement of 1,025 metres of Victorian water main to “address the issue of frequent bursts in the area”.

The scheme will last 19 weeks, and will be split into five phases.

Phase 1 is the most crucial.

A section of pipework – less than a quarter of a mile in length between Venn Ottery Road and Alfred Way – runs under the middle of the busy A3052.

The road is narrow in this section and there’s insufficient room to allow traffic through while the work takes place.

Consequently South West Water has no alternative other than to shut the main Exeter to Sidmouth road completely for three weeks.

Long diversions will be in place and bus services will be re-routed.

Following Phase 1’s completion, the A3052 will be reopened and the remaining four phases – moving along Newton Poppleford’s High Street and using traffic lights – will continue.

On hand at the meeting to answer questions and to seek residents’ views were representatives from South West Water, its contractors May Gurney, Stagecoach buses and Devon County School Transport.

Local residents, while appreciating the need for the water mains renewal, were unimpressed that many of the project’s details have yet to be finalized, especially the transport arrangements.

“It’s chaos!” said John Bearman of Newton Poppleford. “They’re talking about getting a bus from the Halfway House. How do you get there. Walk?”

Carol Muldoon of Newton Poppleford was concerned that pedestrians could be at risk, walking along the narrow A3052. “They should put on a shuttle bus or mini-bus service for the elderly.”

“It’s a mess,” said Lyn Morrison, of Alfred Way. “I won’t be able to get in or out of my house.”

“It’s going to be manic,” said Ann Mitchell of Back Lane. “Our road is narrow. There are going to be people that go down and get stuck.”

“It will block, as soon as someone wants to get out of a turning,” said her husband Thomas.

“It’s going to knock Newton Poppleford sideways,” said Andrew Flaherty, manager of Southern Cross Tea Rooms. “It’s going to be a difficult few months.”

KEY points emerging from last week’s meeting to discuss the renewal of the Victorian water main at Newton Poppleford:

A3052: complete closure at Newton Poppleford for three weeks (October 5-October 27), from Venn Ottery Road to Alfred Way

Diversions: low vehicles via Ottery and back (around 12 miles); high vehicles via Honiton and back (around 26 miles). This, says Devon County Council, is to avoid sending unsuitable vehicles down small local roads.

Buses: Routes 52 and 157 re-routed. Stagecoach is currently working on these arrangements.

School buses: Devon County Council providing school transport during closure period. Once details are finalised, parents and students will be informed of arrangements.

Water supplies: SWW says there will be minimum interruptions. Residents will be given 48-hours notice if the supply has to be cut off for any length of time.

Affected businesses: Compensation for loss of trade may be possible. SWW will be providing traders with guidance about the procedure they need to follow should they intend to submit a claim.

Shops and other businesses: staying open during the road closure. SWW is urging people to support local traders during its work.

From October 28, 2013 -March 2, 2014: A3052 reopens, but with two-way traffic lights. Roadworks will progress in stages up Newton Poppleford’s High Street.

?Updates on the road closure will be posted on