Welcome for £1.5m Budget funding that will help drive A361/A39 plans forward

North Devon’s MP is hoping a £1.5million Budget boost will help to fast track a major £100m overhaul of the North Devon Link Road.

Peter Heaton-Jones said he is working to ‘short circuit’ the long and complicated process of improving the A361 and A39.

“Nothing was done to improve the Link Road for more than 20 years, so I want to make sure we don’t wait another 20 while all the wheels of government grind around,” he said.

“The Chancellor has made clear on several occasions now that he sees improvements to the Link Road as a priority.”

The money for North Devon was revealed in papers that go with the Budget, and was one of the few road projects named.

It will go towards developing a business case and plans for upgrading the road, more than doubling the £1m Devon County Council has already set aside.

Improvement not dualling

The entire road is unlikely to become dualled and improvements are likely to follow the proposals set out in last year’s Gateway to Northern Devon consultation – a raft of measures such as junction and roundabout upgrades, slip roads and more overtaking lanes.

“We’re talking in excess of £100m for significant improvements such as extra overtaking lanes. A full dual carriageway would be even more,” said Mr Heaton-Jones.

“I am continuing to push this because North Devon has been neglected for too long, and I am doing all I can to smooth the way.”

‘In phases’

County Councillor Andrew Leadbetter said the money would allow them to speed up progress by dedicating more resources to the project and advancing a number of surveys.

“The issue of identifying capital funding will have to be addressed at some stage, but whatever scheme is progressed it will most likely be developed in phases over a number of years,” he said.

The county said topographical and environmental surveys needed to be carried out, as well as an economic analysis before any design and consultation could be progressed.

An earlier delivery

Barnstaple County Councillor Brian Greenslade said it was ‘splendid news’: “It shows just important it was for improvements to the Link Road to be included in the South West Infrastructure Fund by chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander before the election.

“This will help Devon County Council to get ‘motoring’ on working up the improvement schemes and bring the delivery of the improvements that much earlier.”