Axminster Relief Road…
Cabinet agrees funding to ensure North-South Relief Road progress…
Traffic congestion in Axminster, and the precarious passage of HGV traffic from the North, near Weycroft Bridge, to the junction between Lyme Road and the A35, has been the ‘stuff’ of legend for decades. Traffic demands on Axminster, together with pressure to reduce town centre air pollution and unlock the town centre for pedestrians, can only be expected to increase.
A masterplan for the building of 650 homes to the east of Axminster is to be produced. However, a significant challenge to building much needed additional new homes, is the ability to raise enough funds to be able to complete infrastructure needed to serve residents and businesses. Whilst East Devon District Council has taken a major step forward in securing £10million from Central Government, under its Housing Infrastructure Fund, toward the building of the North-South relief road to the east of Axminster, the total cost of the road is expected to be £16.7million, leaving a shortfall of £6.7million…
Where could the shortfall come from?
As housebuilders complete the building of homes, they are expected to contribute toward roads, and other infrastructure, needed as a result of the development. This money is not all received at the start of construction rather phased, as homes are completed.
The £10 million already raised, will only be enough to complete part of the road. Without the remaining £6.7million, there would be no way to complete the link between the north and south of the town, or manage the flow of through traffic, until developer contributions reach the sum necessary to fill the gap and allow the final piece of road to be completed.
What did we decide?
My Cabinet colleagues and I unanimously recognised the importance we do not miss this opportunity to secure construction of the long-awaited north-south relief road, to help improve traffic flows through Axminster and to reduce the traffic impact on Axminster town centre, both in terms of air quality and volume.
We therefore agreed, in principle, to borrow the funding shortfall (currently estimated at £6.7 million) to ensure that the north-south relief road can finally be built ‘up front’ over its full proposed length. This, on the basis the loan will be repaid by contributions from home developers, as the 650 new homes, together with associated employment opportunities, are completed.
We further resolved to agree detailed arrangements with Devon County Council and form a partnership. The partnership will appoint contractors for the new relief road and oversee work on its construction.
Finally, as we are working with a significant sum of public funds, a detailed proposal will be completed with a schedule of borrowing and repayment of funds, to be presented to Councillors.
What does it mean?
It is clear that the decision for East Devon District Council to borrow the balance necessary to complete the full length of the North-South relief road is the best, and probably only viable way of making sure that the opportunity to complete the Axminster Relief Road is not missed. It will also allow work on the eastern expansion area of Axminster to be started. This will add 650 new homes and further employment land to the town. Equally, it means that the support of the £10 million investment from the Government Housing Infrastructure Fund will not be lost.
My Officer and Member colleagues and I, at East Devon District Council, value our regular ‘Viewpoint’ survey as an opportunity to gain the views of those we represent, about a range of our Council Services. 3,000 randomly selected residents from across East Devon received a survey recently, in the same format as had been previously shared in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Figures in brackets show the corresponding result from the 2016 survey. Where figures do not add up to 100%, this is because not all expressed a view. I will publish full details on my website, but as a snapshot;
91% Satisfied with their local area as a place to live.
65% (66%) Satisfied ‘overall’ with the way EDDC runs things – 14% dissatisfied
77% (74%) Feel EDDC keeps them informed about services offered – 23% do not
65% (67%) Feel EDDC provides ‘value for money’ – 10% disagree
60% (56%) Believe EDDC acts on what residents say – 44% disagree
51% (51%) Believe EDDC acts quickly – 14% disagree
44% (42%) Would speak positively about EDDC – 17% would not
Full details on all stories and the latest news on my website www.trinitymatters.co.uk
Cllr Ian Thomas
Leader – East Devon District Council
Ward Member – Trinity
Inform – Consult – Participate
Mobile: 07884 494474