A planning application for an underpass and improvements at Bishop’s Tawton roundabout has been approved.

The Bishops Tawton roundabout plans as part of the Link Road upgrade look set to include an underpass. Picture: DCCThe Bishops Tawton roundabout plans as part of the Link Road upgrade look set to include an underpass. Picture: DCC

The pedestrian and cyclist underpass at the junction will be provided as part of the North Devon Link Road's improvements scheme.

The scheme will see extra lanes on the A361 through the roundabout to increase capacity, while the A377 exit to Bishop's Tawton would also be widened to incorporate two wider lanes.

A new underpass is proposed to the west of the roundabout to enable pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy road.

The Gazette reported in February how some residents were opposed to an underpass because they believe it will not be used and would attract anti-social behaviour.

How the Bishops Tawton underpass could appear. Picture: DCCHow the Bishops Tawton underpass could appear. Picture: DCC

Devon County Council's development management committee, which unanimously approved the plans on Wednesday (October 16), heard that the underpass was the only viable solution to enable pedestrians and cyclists to safely cross the 60mph road.

Urging committee members to approve the application, Cllr Andrea Davis, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: "It is up to you and your consciences as to if we do this. It won't be on my watch if a child dies trying to cross the road.

"I am confident the subway is the best design that we can get.

"I do get what people think about subways and they are not my favourite thing, but we need to think about the safety of those young people."

The Bishops Tawton roundabout plans as part of the Link Road upgrade look set to include an underpass. Picture: DCCThe Bishops Tawton roundabout plans as part of the Link Road upgrade look set to include an underpass. Picture: DCC

Dave Black, the council's head of planning, transportation and environment, also spoke in favour of the scheme, saying it would provide a much better long term plan for sustainable travel in the area and encourage more people to cycle and walk.

Construction would likely begin in 2021 or later to minimise disruption once the phasing of the 'main works' between Portmore and Filleigh.

The overall North Devon Link Road improvement scheme involves the widening of a 7.5km stretch (just under five miles) of the A361 for a stretch of carriageway from the Portmore roundabout in Barnstaple to Filleigh Cutting near South Molton.

More than £83 million of government funding has been confirmed to pay for upgrades with a further £10 million coming from Devon County Council's Highways department.

The major £93m upgrades to the North Devon Link Road are set to begin in November 2020.