To receive a report of the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration considering the outcomes of the recent public consultation over route options for a town centre relief road for Cullompton and to update Members on the status and outcomes of further technical work undertaken or in the process of taking place. The report also makes recommendations over a preferred route subject to further technical verification work and next steps which lie principally with Devon County Council over the drawing up of a planning application, together with supporting material including environmental statement to meet the requirements of environmental impact assessment.
The Cabinet had before it a * report of the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration considering the outcomes of the recent public consultation over route options for a town centre relief road for Cullompton and to update Members on the status and outcomes of further technical work undertaken or in the process of taking place.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration outlined the contents of the report stating that there had been a long held aspiration for a relief road for Cullompton to combat poor air quality in the town centre by providing traffic relief and to support the town’s enhancement and future regeneration. He highlighted policy AL/CU/14 within the adopted Local Plan which referred to the provision of a relief road linking Station Road to Meadow Lane and that the policy had been assessed by an independent planning inspector who found the policy and the route to be appropriate. He explained the funding opportunity that was available through the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the technical work that had taken place and that a relief road would reduce traffic flowing through the town centre and improve the capacity of J28 of the M5. The proposed relief road was seen as a first phase for wider highway works for Cullompton and the announcement of the funding following a process of due diligence was expected soon.
He continued by explaining the technical work that had taken place to explore the potential routes for the relief road, the consultation process that had taken place and that further technical work would be required. The recommendation within the report stated that Option B was the preferred option subject to further technical work and that a possible modification to the route towards the southern end in Duke Street be further investigated. He then explained the process that would follow any decision of the District Council.
The Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration explained by way of presentation the detail of the various route options A-C which were initially available and how each option would work potentially with an upgrade to J28. She indicated the dismissal of Option D based upon Environment Agency advice. The work on the relief road had not taken place in isolation and that a second phase of highway works would see significant improvements either to the existing junction or to a new junction to the south. She explained the consultation process that had taken place, the questions that had been asked as part of the consultation and consultation outcomes. Flood risk assessments were being undertaken for each available option and further technical work would be required which would include further flood risk mitigation. She explained that all options had a low heritage impact and that the least overall impact on the heritage assets was Option B. She informed the meeting of the detail of traffic assessment report which indicated that a relief road would reduce the queuing in the High Street and also at J28. The modelling that had taken place indicated that Options A and B would reduce queuing in the High Street the most, with Option C offering greatest capacity at the motorway junction.
She continued, explaining the alternative route suggestions that had come forward as part of the consultation:
· A new motorway junction to the south of the existing junction via the Duke Street bridge, this had been discounted due to the proximity to the original junction and lack of space between the railway line and the motorway hindering the provision of slips.
· A sweeping route north-south from the Honiton side of the motorway, it was considered that there was not enough elevated ground at this point and that there would be flood implications and the impact upon the River Culm.
· Option B could be continued south with a loop towards Duke Street, there were some advantages to this as it could reduce land ownerships involved and the impact on the CCA fields, this variation would be looked at in more detail.
The delivery of the relief road was then explained, with regard to the process for acquiring land, a planning application from the Highway Authority, the estimated cost of the options and the proposed timescales.
With regard to questions posed in public question time, she provided the following answers:
· How would the relief road reduce traffic at J28? The traffic assessments indicated that the traffic would be approaching the junction from different directions and this would therefore reduce queuing, both in the High Street in the morning peak of traffic and would also reduce queuing back onto the motorway at peak times.
· Air quality issues and whether a relief road was a short term fix – results from the monitoring with regard to air quality issues had improved, however they were by no means satisfactory; a relief road would reduce traffic in the town centre and therefore reduce air quality issues. This was not a short term fix but just the first phase of wider highway works proposed.
· Whether the consultation responses were a fair representation of the people of Cullompton, 8000 people did not respond, but many did and those peoples’ thoughts had been considered. With regard to the funding bid information, this matter was before the Information Commissioner, it related to a live bid and it was not considered appropriate to release this information.
· Football Club representation, officers had met with representatives and a clear process had been discussed, further technical work with regard to design optimisation would look at the impact of the proposal on the football club.
· The impact of the proposal on the showman’s site, work had been commissioned on noise and air quality which would be further considered.
· The cricket club, there had been consultation with the cricket club and further liaison would continue with sites being investigated. She added that the bigger picture of the garden village was being consulted upon at the current time and she encouraged participation.
· Traffic hold ups and the lack of enforcement – traffic enforcement was important but it would not solve the current problem.
The Ward Members for Cullompton raised the following issues:
· Cars parking illegally in the town centre causing queues
· The problems with leaflet distribution as part of the consultation process
· The history of the CCA fields
· Whether options C and D were fully considered
· The need for long term improvements to the town centre and the need for all parties to work together
· The need for infrastructure prior to further development
· The concerns of the Community College with regard to the traffic alongside the school and the air quality and noise issues that this may cause, the possible expansion of the school and the impact of this alongside the proposal.
· The number of dwellings proposed before consideration of a new junction
· The failure of proper consultation and a request that Motion 552 (with regard to a second consultation by Devon County Council) be supported
· What would happen if the further technical work deemed the proposal to be unacceptable, would the options be reconsidered
· The relocation of the sports facilities impacted by the proposals to be considered urgently so as there was no interruption to the services that they provided.
· The verification of the consultation responses.
Consideration was given to:
· The Devon County Council Cabinet meeting taking place on 13 March
· The liaison that was taking place with the sports facilities and the community college and the further technical work that was proposed
· The original design and build of Meadow Lane
· A possible funding gap and how that gap would be breached
· Possible changes to the design of the High Street via masterplanning options
· If the proposal was not viable following continued technical work, then a further report would need to be considered
· Further possible funding bids
1. Option B be recommended to Devon County Council as the preferred route, subject to further technical verification work, including whether some aspects of the third alternative route discussed in paragraph 4.6.4 of the report should be incorporated.
2. It also be recommended to Devon County Council that as Highway Authority it:
a) undertakes the technical verification work together with the preparation of a planning application for the road with supporting documentation, and
b) in line with Motion 552 carried by this Council on 19th December 2018, considers holding a second stage of consultation following completion of the verification work and prior to the submission of the planning application.
3. That a further up to £250,000 of S106 money collected for the relief road project and to undertake air quality mitigation measures in Cullompton be utilised to fund the work included in recommendation 2 above.
(Proposed by Cllr R J Chesterton and seconded by Cllr C R Slade)
i) Cllr Mrs M E Squires declared a personal interest as she had family who lived in Cullompton;
ii) Cllr Mrs E M Andrews declared a personal interest as she was Vice Chairman of the CCA and a member of one of the Garden Village stakeholder groups
iii) Cllr Mrs N Woollatt declared a personal interest as she lived nearby 2 of the proposed routes and close to Station Road;
iv) Cllr T W Snow declared a personal interest as he had relatives who would live near a new road;
v) *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.