Moving towards a strong recovery
Posted on: 26 June 2012
Investment in transport and infrastructure is vital to keep Devon’s economy moving towards a strong recovery and, with major growth forecast for the county, it’s essential that a range of transport alternatives is provided to improve travel around Devon.
Since 2003, bus passengers in Devon have bucked the national trend of decline that’s happened outside London, and the number of passengers on rail services in the county is also continuing to rise. Since 2006, rail passenger numbers have gone up 59%on the Exeter to Barnstaple line and 29%between Exeter and Exmouth.
We’re committed to building on this success and are calling for the next rail franchise from April 2013 to establish faster journey times between the South West and London, in order to help the region become more competitive. We’ve highlighted the need for an earlier train from London and also want to see a service implemented from Okehampton to Exeter as well as the re-opening of the Plymouth and Bere Alston to Tavistock line.
Work is well underway on the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point which, with the development of Exeter Science Park and Skypark business development, is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs and generate around £450 million in private sector investment.
High quality public transport links will form a key aspect of these schemes and the County Council is funding a range of transport options and infrastructure to open up access to these new developments. This includes a railway station at the new community of Cranbrook, ongoing improvements at Junction 29 of the M5 and cycling and walking routes that link to Exeter’s cycle network via the award-winning Redhayes Bridge.
Driving the economy
After many years of planning, work will be starting later this year on construction of the South Devon Link Road, which will bypass the village of Kingskerswell. At present, some 35,000 vehicles per day get held up in this bottleneck on the route to Torbay. Devon County Council and Torbay Council were successful in securing £76 million from Government towards this £109 million scheme, which will be open to traffic in late 2015. It will be a major boost to the economy of South Devon, improving business access, and in due course is expected to support the creation of up to 7,000 extra jobs.
We are using almost £5 million of Local Sustainable Transport funding from the Department for Transport to deliver schemes which cut congestion and help economic growth. Countywide initiatives include improved bus services to underpin patronage growth, innovative rural public transport services such as Fare Cars, carsharedevon, promotion of travel plans among local firms, and improved cycle parking. There will be targeted schemes in Exeter, Exmouth, Newton Abbot, Kingsteignton and Totnes to encourage commuting by bike or on foot.
The funding has also enabled Totnes to become home to the first of the work hubs in Devon. These provide flexible shared office space for small businesses and self-employed people, reducing the need to travel.
Major investment is being made in the cycle network in the Teignbridge area to support the economy and encourage car-free access to work and places of education. This includes the Teign Estuary Connect 2 route between Kingsteignton and Newton Abbot, further progress on developing trails along the Teign Estuary, links between Newton Abbot, Kingskerswell and Torbay, completion of the Exe Estuary (western side) between Turf Lock and Powderham and the Wray Valley route between Newton Abbot and Bovey Tracey / Moretonhampstead.
Elsewhere, work is ongoing to complete missing sections of routes right across the county, with a new 1km offroad section of the Stop Line Way in East Devon now linking Kilmington and Axminster. £500,000 has been spent on improving the Ruby Way between Hatherleigh and Holsworthy, and a further £240,000 has been committed to complete an off-road section of the Tarka Trail betweenWillingcott, nearWoolacombe, and Knowle, near Braunton.
We’re maintaining our commitment to becoming a premier destination for cycling tourism through the development of multi-use trails. The Exe Estuary Trail is due to be completed by 2014/15 and will eventually provide a 16-mile route for walkers and cyclists.
The landmark Gem Bridge near Tavistock, which opened to cyclists and pedestrians in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, is a key element of Drake’s Trail. The Trail is expected to be completed in September and will connect Dartmoor National Park with Plymouth. It also forms part of the “Cycle West” project, linking South West England, Normandy and Brittany, and is expected to provide a huge boost in tourism – attracting visitors from home and overseas.
Posted in: Environment