North Devon Link Road cash is ‘up for grabs’

The North Devon Link Road.
The North Devon Link Road.

Road is highlighted in Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in connection with a £475m cash pot

A major upgrade of the North Devon Link Road could be a step closer after being named by Chancellor George Osborne in connection with a £475million funding pot.

The A39/A361 was specifically mentioned in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement as one of the transport projects that could benefit from the new fund, which will be available over the next five years.

The Chancellor even sent a personal letter to North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, confirming the good news.

Mr Heaton-Jones said he had already been briefed by the Department of Transport about the new bidding process and had met with Devon County Council to work on pushing the project forward.

“The fact the Chancellor has written a personally-signed letter – not a junior minister, civil servant or special adviser – is proof that North Devon is now on the radar in a way it’s never been before,” he said.

“In July, the Chancellor announced £2million to help the county council produce a ‘business case’ for major improvements to the road.

“For the second time in four months, the Link Road is specifically mentioned in the Budget papers.”

North Devon Council (NDC) leader Des Brailey said he was ‘thrilled’ at the opportunity, but added that it was unlikely that the road would become a full dual carriageway.

Instead, he said he would be pushing for something like the three lane system on the A303 in Somerset, where traffic takes turns to overtake.

“Also, there are dangerous areas that need addressing where unfortunately we would probably have to have roundabouts to reduce the possibility of accident black spots,” he added.

NDC shadow leader, Councillor Brian Greenslade, welcomed the news, but said it was: “Confirmation this Government is honouring the commitment made before the election by chief secretary to treasury Danny Alexander to Nick Harvey and myself to include improving the North Devon Link Rd in the South West Infrastructure fund, although it now appears to be a bidding arrangement.”

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