Revealed: £200m package of improvements for North Devon Link Road

PUBLISHED: 13:55 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 14:54 06 October 2016

The A361 North Devon Link Road in Barnstaple. Picture: Sarah Howells

The A361 North Devon Link Road in Barnstaple. Picture: Sarah Howells

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Urban four-lane section between Landkey and Brynsworthy part of raft of upgrades recommended by highways experts

A £200million package of improvements has been drawn up for the North Devon Link Road.

Details about the proposed scheme for the A361 and A39 between Bideford and South Molton can be revealed for the first time.

Highways experts are recommending a new urban four-lane section between Landkey and Brynsworthy, work that would include the widening of the river and rail bridge over the River Taw.

There would be no central reservation but the speed limit would be reduced to 50mph.

North Devon Link Road North Devon Link Road

The Gateway to Northern Devon strategy also proposes additional overtaking lanes from Filleigh to Portmore, and from a brand new junction at Brynsworthy to Westleigh.

Improvements would be made to seven junctions – at Borners Bridge, West Buckland; Landkey; Portmore; Rumsam; Westleigh; and Heywood Road.

Dual carriageway ruled out

A complete dual carriageway has been ruled out due to costs and timescales.

The Gazette launched the 'A Better Link' campaign earlier this year to call for improvements to North Devon Link Road. The Gazette launched the 'A Better Link' campaign earlier this year to call for improvements to North Devon Link Road.

The report by Dave Black, Devon County Council’s head of planning, transportation and environment said: “A dual carriageway would provide the biggest benefits but this is very high cost, probably unaffordable.

“It would have a large impact on the environment as a new alignment and large scale junction improvements would be necessary.

“This would require large areas of land, compulsory purchase orders, public inquires and make the whole process undeliverable within the DfT (Department for Transport) timescales of having the scheme onsite by 2020.”

Overtaking opportunities and junction safety between South Molton and the M5 will be looked at as part of a separate review once funding is identified.

A ‘poor’ gateway to North Devon

Mr Black’s report said the link road offered a ‘poor’ gateway to North Devon.

It said a mix of business, commuter and tourist traffic led to poor journey times, reliability and congestion in peak commuting periods, particularly around Barnstaple and Bideford.

The average speed between Tiverton and Bideford is 47mph and although the number of collisions are relatively low, the number of fatal and serious incidents is higher than other comparable roads.

The report said that Northern Devon’s economy was among the most poorly performing in the UK and had ‘significant untapped potential’.

It also said ‘considerable’ housing development planned along the route over the next 15-20 years would add to capacity problems at key ‘pressure points’.

Around 4,000 homes are being planned in Barnstaple, with a similar amount in Bideford. Another 2,000 homes are being planned in Tiverton; 1,200 in South Molton; 1,400 in Ilfracombe; 400 in Braunton; and 600 in Torrington.

Consultation

The council will now look to submit the Strategic Outline Business Case to the DfT and apply for further funding to complete the second stage of development work.

If successful, it would look to submit a capital bid to the Government’s Large Local Majors Fund before autumn next year.

If funding is approved, actual work would have to start by March 2020.

Development of the scheme follows a public consultation carried out in the summer which showed 95 per cent of people thought improvements were needed for the road.

Councillors are being recommending to note the results of the consultation, submit the Strategic Outline Business Case approve further development funding at a meeting on Wednesday.

What do you think about the latest proposals for the link road? Email your thoughts to the newsdesk – just click here.

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