Proposals for a £2.6m footbridge over the Link Road to connect what is currently two fields

Questions are being asked about a £2.6million 'bridge to nowhere' proposed for the North Devon Link Road near Barnstaple.

The Roundswell Phase 2 pedestrian and cycle bridge is scheduled to be built in the next two years according to a Devon County Council (DCC) report that went to committee yesterday (Tuesday).

It would link proposed new employment and retail land either side of the link road, which at present is empty fields.

It was part of a raft of proposed transport link improvements presented to the North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders (HATOC) committee.

But HATOC committee member and county councillor Frank Biederman has questioned whether so much public money should be spent on a bridge.

"I welcome investment to secure jobs, but I am becoming increasingly concerned at the cost and whether we are getting best value, particularly when we can't seem to keep up with basic repairs of our current highway network," he said.

Mr Biederman, who was unable to attend the meeting due to being on holiday, said the HATOC report did not provide enough detail but he would be keeping a close eye on things.

Another scheme scheduled for a start in 2016/17 is a £1.5million redevelopment of the Portmore Roundabout at the other end of the Link Road.

Supporting growth

A DCC spokesman said the transport schemes for Barnstaple are being developed to support growth in the town and increase capacity of the road networks.

This includes the £2.6million Roundswell Phase 2 pedestrian and cycle bridge scheduled to start in 2016-17 and located on land to the west of the A39 roundabout, as shown on our map (above).

Although both sides of the road are earmarked for 'economic development' in the Local Plan, no details have been forthcoming.

A £1.5m redevelopment of the Portmore Roundabout will be carried out in 2016-17 with access works for the Mount Sandford Green development of 250 homes and a business park.

The council spokesman said both were being developed with match funding identified through the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The report to the HATOC committee also outlined other schemes that are still in an embryonic stage and will rely on attracting funding from developers or other sources.

These include a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the new development at Larkbear to Seven Brethren plus another bridge for walkers and cyclists from Anchorwood Bank to the Strand.

It is proposed to create a roundabout by the hospital to cater for increased traffic from the numerous developments around Pilton.

Scheme is welcome

Speaking of the Roundswell foot bridge, county councillor Brian Greenslade said he welcomed investment in pedestrian and cycleway connections into Barnstaple's inner core to improve access for those who will live and work outside the A361/A39 ring.

"Barnstaple has a very good reputation for encouraging cycling/pedestrian connections as the link down to the town centre from Whiddon Valley shows and the huge success of the Tarka Trail demonstrates," he said.

"It reduces town centre traffic and provides a healthy alternative to the car."