The Cabinet had before it a * report of the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration seeking agreement to go out to public consultation over route options for the town centre relief road for Cullompton.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration outlined the contents of the report reminding the meeting of the previous report considered in May 2018 which identified the current opportunity to progress planning for the delivery of a relief road in connection with the available funding stream via the Council’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF). The delivery of a relief road for Cullompton had been a long term objective receiving policy support within both the adopted and submitted Local Plans which would deliver benefits to the operation of J28 of the motorway and would also enable the reduction of traffic flows through the town centre resulting in air quality and town centre amenity benefits. Significant highway improvements would be required to serve the proposed garden village to the east of J28 and a relief road would form the first part of such improvements.
Since the meeting in May, officers had worked closely with Devon County Council Highway Authority to assess potential options for a relief road. He identified the options (and plans) outlined in the report explaining the reasons why option d) had been discounted due to flood risk. Therefore options a), b) and c) were proposed to be taken forward for public consultation. Following the public consultation period the preferred option would be considered at a future meeting of the Cabinet.
The Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration provided responses to questions raised in Public Question Time: with regard to whether the relief road would benefit J28, advice had been sought from the Highway Authority and Highways England and it was felt that a relief road would give some improvements to Junction 28 with regard to issues with AM peak traffic, it would help distribute queuing and aid the PM traffic issues of queuing back on to the north bound off slip of the motorway which was of concern to Highways England; the fact that the original improvements to J28 were no longer supported by either the Highway Authority or Highways England, as it was felt that those original plans would not benefit traffic flow and junction operation as initially expected and they had expressed strong concern over the ability to construct the scheme. Accordingly neither wished to take responsibility for its delivery and favoured the delivery of a relief road. Therefore it was felt that consulting on directing funds to J28 was not really an option as this was undeliverable.
With regard to questions relating to the flood risk assessment, work was still being undertaken to assess the flood implications of each option, however a flood risk assessment was available for the main flood corridor which considered a highway intervention, all the necessary information would be available when a final decision was made on the preferred option. All the information relating to the flood risk assessment was on the website and therefore was publically available. Option d) had been discounted, however option c) would form part of the consultation package along with options a) and b).
The Chairman read a representation from Cllr Mrs Woollatt who had been unable to attend the meeting which highlighted:
· The route to the east of the motorway would not meet with the HIF funding requirements and the need to state the reasons why
· Previous consultation events (in particular the Crediton Link Road) and the fact that information pamphlets had been distributed as part of the consultation process and that the pamphlet had included lots of frequently asked questions and whether a similar approach could be incorporated into the consultation for Cullompton.
The Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration informed the meeting that it was the view of the highway consultant and the Highway Authority that option c) would not be able to be delivered by 2021 because of bridging structures, the more involved design, permissions and construction that would be needed and would not be completed in time for the funding opportunity. She stated that she would liaise with Devon County Council with regard to the distribution of pamphlets, although the Crediton consultation had taken place 10 years earlier and today the majority of consultations were more web based, however this issue would be considered. She agreed that an FAQ document would be produced and that Members may like to consider extending the consultation period to 6 weeks.
Consideration was given to the views of local Ward Members:
· Whether the options were all about funding and whether additional funding streams could be considered
· Whether the options should consider the Garden Village
· Why should Cullompton have the cheapest options
· The need to consider other options
· Safety issues in Meadow Lane
· Whether cycle routes would be included in the options
· Whether a junction at Willand was feasible
· The need to look at an integrated transport plan
Further consideration was given to:
· Whether the relief road would benefit J28
· Whether the relief road would be a short term option
· The possibility of further available funding
· Concerns for the CCA fields
· Whether additional roundabouts could be used for options c) and d) and whether the established bridges at the Duke Street end attributed to the flooding issues
· Whether consultation material could be made available in the Hayridge and Leisure Centre and possibly through the local magazine
· The impact of the relief road on Duke Street
· Whether to extend the consultation period to 6 weeks
· The intention to hold the meeting in Cullompton to agree the preferred option
a) The Cullompton town centre relief road route options be approved for public consultation.
b) Delegated authority be given to the Head of Planning , Economy and Regeneration in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration to prepare and finalise consultation material.
c) The consultation period to consider the options available for a relief road be extended to 6 weeks.
(Proposed by Cllr R J Chesterton and seconded by Cllr C R Slade)
Note: * Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.