Sidmouth park and change ‘within two years’

SIDMOUTH will be the first place in Devon to trial a ‘park and change’ system, according to hopeful highways chiefs.

Business leaders have expressed concerns the facility, earmarked by Devon County Council (DCC) for a piece of land off Woolbrook Road, will serve Exeter more than the town.

But Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the project will bring people to Sidmouth – and that detractors needed to “embrace change”.

He hopes the mooted facility - set for a site next to Greenway Lane - can become a reality in roughly 18 months to two years.

“These opportunities only come along once,” said Cllr Hughes.

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DCC’s vision would see people drive, walk and cycle to the park and change where they could, then travel by bus into Sidmouth or to places like Exeter.

“The Woolbrook site is so important because it’s serviced by so many busses,” said Mr Hughes. “Park and ride, or park and change, has to be near a bus route.

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“Park and change is a new concept and something DCC has come up with. I’m pleased Sidmouth is going to be the place we’re going to trial it. “There will be a lot of sites along the A3052 corridor.

“A lot of people will be coming to the town once we have got this system working. It’s in its infancy, but being a pilot area will attract more people to our town.”

Mr Hughes added the scheme would see two small busses “circling Sidmouth all the time”.

“We’ve got a great opportunity and we’ve got to grasp it.

“DCC has now got the land. The next step is to get funding to build it.”

He said a cycle route from Feniton to Sidmouth and a new bridge over the A3052 were also possibilites.

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce members discussed park and change while debating town parking and transport issues earlier this month.

Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow said: “It’s not really for Sidmouth.”

Chairman Richard Eley added: “It’s got nothing to do with park and ride for Sidmouth, it’s entirely about reducing traffic into Exeter.”

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