Funding received to develop North Devon Link Road improvement business case
Posted on: 25 January 2016
Work on the business case for the development of the North Devon Link Road will accelerate in the coming months, following confirmation of initial funding from the Department for Transport.
Devon County Council has been informed that it will receive £609,000 from the DfT for work being carried out this financial year and into 2016/17, with a further £891,000 being made available to develop the project beyond 2017.
The investment confirms the funding investment the Government announced in its Autumn Statement last year.
The County Council has already started work on the first phase of an economic benefit study as well as initial design work. The additional funding will enable environmental impact studies and consultation with stakeholders to be carried out, as well as essential surveys.
This survey work will explore a number of options for upgrading the Link Road and will assess which option provides the best cost-benefit ratio to unlock economic growth. It will eventually inform a business case and scheme bid for a share of the Government’s £475 million Local Majors Fund.
The funding from the Department for Transport will add to the £200,000 a year which the County Council has already allocated in its capital programme, as part of its £1 million budget for developing designs for the North Devon Link Road.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “Improving the North Devon Link Road would provide a huge boost to the local economy of North Devon and Torridge. We need to ensure we have a robust business case so that the improvement scheme has the best possible chance of receiving Government support.
“The funding from the DfT more than doubles our budget for this project, which is extremely welcome. We have already made a start on the first phase of an economic benefit study and we will be keeping the DfT updated on progress. We will now be able to step up a gear and start looking to carry out essential surveys, assessments and consultation before a preferred scheme is identified.”
Devon County Council’s Transport Infrastructure Plan identifies the need for long term improvements to the A361 North Devon Link Road as a key strategic link, and the authority supports the case for major improvements to the route over the longer term.
A number of junction and roundabout improvements on the A361 and A39 corridor have already been upgraded through the County Council’s existing strategy for the North Devon Link Road, “The Gateway to Northern Devon”. The first phase of Roundswell Roundabout improvements were completed in September 2014 and the off-slips at Junction 27 of the M5 were improved last year. The County Council is currently looking at outline design options on the South Molton to Barnstaple section of the A361, which carries consistently high traffic flows.
Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, said: “I’m delighted that we now have confirmation of the £1.5 million from the government to start the planning process for improvements to the Link Road. I was determined to get things moving straight after the election and we’ve come a long way in less than nine months.
“The challenge now is to put together the business case which will unlock the funds we need. The Department for Transport has confirmed to me what the Chancellor said in the Autumn Statement – that the Link Road is uppermost in the minds of ministers and they are looking forward to our bid. Devon County Council has already done great work to get us to this stage. There is a lot more to do to put together the business case and start the planning process, and I look forward to providing whatever help and support I can.”
The County Council’s business case will need to look at a number of options which are likely to be assessed after November 2016, with a report due in February 2017. Once a preferred option is chosen, detailed design work will have to be carried out to provide an accurate cost estimate, and then bids will be made for capital funds.
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