Cash confirmed for council to start building a scheme to redevelop the A361/A39

Work to get North Devon Link Road ready for development will accelerate in the coming months after £1.5million in Government cash was confirmed.

The money will be used to make the business case for major improvements such as dual carriageway sections and eliminating accident blackspots.

Devon County Council will carry out surveys to come up with the best options for upgrading the A361/A39 between Bideford and Tiverton.

They will be presented back to the council in November and next year a business case will be submitted to bid for a share of the Government’s £475 million Local Majors Fund.

The council has been told by the Department of Transport it will get £609,000 for work being carried out this financial year and into 2016/17, with a £891,000 being made available to develop the project beyond 2017.

‘Ministers on board’

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones was delighted when the Link Road was mentioned in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement papers and is now driving ahead.

“The challenge now is to put together the business case which will unlock the funds we need,” he said.

“The DfT has confirmed what the Chancellor said in the Autumn Statement - the Link Road is uppermost in the minds of ministers and they are looking forward to our bid.

“The 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 funding will add to the £200,000 a year the County Council has already allocated in its capital programme, as part of its £1m budget for developing designs.

Going through the gears

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter said: “Improving the Link Road would provide a huge boost to the local economy of North Devon and Torridge.

“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.”

“We need to ensure we have a robust business case so the improvement scheme has the best possible chance of receiving Government support.”