Cabinet asked to propose preferred route of A30 improvement to Government
Posted on: 7 December 2016
Devon County Council’s Cabinet will be asked next week (Wednesday 14 December) to propose a preferred route to Government for a £180 million improvement scheme for the A30 between Honiton and Devonshire Inn.
Following an extensive public consultation throughout August and September in which the County Council presented three route options (Orange Route, Blue North and Blue South), Councillors are being recommended to put the Orange Route to the Secretary of State as the preferred route, for his view and potential implementation.
The Government confirmed in 2014 that the full A303 corridor – including the A358 from the Ilminster roundabout to Taunton and the A30 – will be upgraded. It followed economic studies commissioned by Devon and Somerset County Councils to highlight the benefits of improvements. Hundreds of businesses and visitors were also surveyed to show the widespread support for improving the A30/A358/A303 route from the South West to the South East.
Research found improvements to the whole route could provide 21,400 jobs, a £41.6 billion boost to the economy and £1.9 billion in transport benefits from reduced journey times. An upgrade could also prevent more than 1,800 fatal or serious injuries over 60 years and reduce carbon emissions by 9%. Although the section of the A303/A30 between Honiton to Ilminster was not included in the government’s Road Investment Strategy 2015-2020, the Government recognised that some improvements were necessary.
The County Council has taken an environmentally-led approach in developing its potential scheme options, which were the subject of the public consultation. More than 880 responses were received during the consultation, which included exhibitions in Honiton, Upottery, Monkton and Cotleigh.
53% of respondents agreed that there was a need for improvements. The main reasons for support related to safety, the standard of the existing road and effect of traffic through Monkton. Of those in support of improvements, 44% preferred the Orange route and 23% wanted any of the options, 16% wanted none, while the Blue North route and Blue South route attracted 12% and 5% support respectively.
The reasons given by those not supporting the proposed schemes ranged from alternative improvements, such as a bypass north of Monkton and dualling the route, to concern over the impact on the AONB and waiting for A358 improvements to take place. However, these have been explored following the feedback but the Orange Route is seen to be the best route in meeting the objectives.
It is recognised that the Scheme is in the Blackdown Hills AONB. The AONB Partnership expressed concern at the environmental impacts of the routes and called for the need for further work to be carried out. This will be undertaken in the next stage of the assessment to ensure the design takes into account the sensitive landscape and biodiversity – reviewing the proportions of the road, signing, road furniture and no lighting.
Concerns raised over the design of the junction at Devonshire Inn have also been considered, and alternative arrangements have been developed for further assessment.
All of the routes bypass Monkton and Reddick’s Hill to the east of the existing route. The Blue North and Blue South routes impact on the community of Monkton, and while the Orange has less impact on properties, has no junctions or accesses, and is the better route for biodiversity and cultural heritage, there were concerns over the potential for noise affecting the village of Cotleigh.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said:
“The majority of people who took part in the consultation have agreed that a scheme is required, and while it’s accepted that any scheme will have some impact, the County Council believes there are exceptional circumstances which justify its need.
“The consultation feedback revealed that a number of people felt a dual carriageway would future-proof the route. However, a dual carriageway is not being proposed.
“It also needs to be said that this is a Government road, and it will require Government funding to progress.”
The County Council allocated funds to progress potential improvement options as an initial stage. These proposed improvements aim to encourage economic growth in the south west peninsula as well as the East of Exeter, and would also improve journey times, reliability and safety.
Devon County Council is planning to submit an Outline Business Case to the Department for Transport (DfT) early next year, with the aim of attracting Road investment Strategy 2 funding for 2020-2025. Although the County Council is proposing the wide single carriageway, featuring a two-plus-one lane layout with alternating overtaking opportunities, the authority is not proposing to adopt or approve any highway or other land that may be intended to be improved by the Secretary of State. Any further progress on the scheme would be carried out by the Department for Transport and Highways England.
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