Major road upgrades outlined for Barnstaple
Raft of changes for town’s busiest junctions.
MAJOR plans to shape Barnstaple’s road network for generations to come were unveiled to councillors on Monday.
The meeting of the North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee was described by chairman Councillor Rodney Cann as one of the ‘most significant’ the committee was ever likely to convene.
The draft Barnstaple Transport Strategy contains a raft of proposals designed to enhance some of the town’s busiest junctions and keep them moving amid ‘enormous’ development expected to take place in the town between now and 2031.
Of the 20 schemes detailed, a �1.5million expansion of the Roundswell roundabout is high on Devon County Council’s list of priorities.
The plan to provide extra lanes on the A39 approaches and exits is expected to go before the county council’s cabinet in January.
Other proposals presented to councillors by transport planning officer Lewis Ward, include a Tews Lane link running from the B3123 at Bickington to a new junction on the A39 at Brynsworthy.
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New access junctions are also planned for proposed housing developments alongside the A39 at Larkbear, and alongside the A361 at Mount Sandford and Acland.
The report proposes that land at Larkbear Plantation be safeguarded to allow for the future widening of the A39 between Roundswell and Lake roundabouts, identified as the busiest stretch of road in North Devon.
It also suggests land at Westacott Road be secured to enable the option of a future link to Goodleigh Road, although some councillors at the meeting warned that such a link could create a ‘rat run’ through Widdon Valley.
Improvements to roundabouts at Rumsam, Gratton Way and Portmore are also seen as key to coping with increased traffic capacity.
Meanwhile, a �1.6m two-bridge scheme over the railway line and A361 would create a pedestrian and cycle link between Larkbear and Seven Brethren.
There are also proposals for a �3.5m pedestrian bridge across the River Taw from Anchorwood Bank.
Bus links to Petroc, a masterplan for Seven Brethren, and changes to the park and ride scheme at Park School to allow for future expansion of the school are also included.
The draft Barnstaple Transport Strategy has been four years in the making and a final document is expected to go to public consultation early next year.
Mr Ward said it was down to developers to mitigate the impact of their own development but senior district councillors have called on the county council to commit ‘up-front’ investment to Barnstaple’s road network before any future development takes place in the town.
Cllr Cann said: “I know money is pretty scarce but there is a feeling that there is a real need for up front investment in our roads.
“I am concerned that we have identified the need to address capacity and are paying for the improvements with money from schemes that are going to add to the problem.
“This is an enormous jigsaw puzzle that will set the climate and the scene for North Devon for several generations to come. We need to get it right.”
North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade said: “We have an existing problem here already without future development. If we don’t get improvements before anything else happens then we are going to make the situation much more difficult.”