Mid Devon bid for first round of “levelling-up” found founders

Cullompton relief road funding fails. Bid for £13.5 million rejected.

Neil Parish has agreed to “try and see how far he can get at the Westminster end with conversations.”

Cullompton looks to be in the same boat as Exmouth – Owl

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

The future of a relief road for Cullompton remains uncertain after it failed to secure millions of pounds of government funding.

Mid Devon District Council’s £13.5 million bid from the first round of Westminster’s ‘levelling-up’ fund – more than half of the road’s projected cost of nearly £25 million – has been turned down.

The planned road to the east of Cullompton will improve capacity at junction 28 of the M5 – though upgrades will need in future. It will also help reduce traffic through the town centre.

The scheme will unlock the development of 2,000 homes as part of the council’s local plan, including an initial 500 properties east of Cullompton which will form part of the Culm Garden village, one of 14 such areas announced by the government in 2017.

Planning permission was granted in January for both the road and a new home for Cullompton Cricket Club, which will need to relocate if the road is built.

Originally set to cost £15 million, councillors were told in August that the projected cost had risen to an estimated £24.8 million – blamed on increased costs from construction, replacing sporting facilities and the potential amount needed for land acquisition.

At a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet this week, members agreed to work on identifying alternative funding sources to make up a shortfall of just over half of the total.  It can reapply to further funding rounds of the levelling-up programme – the next of which is in the spring.

Cabinet member Councillor Richard Chesterton (Conservative, Lower Culm) said the road was “absolutely crucial,” citing it as a solution to congestion and air quality problems.

“This is, after many years of looking at it, the best way that both Mid Devon and Devon County could come up with delivering something that would take Cullompton forward – particularly with the levels of growth that are likely in a town like Cullompton and with the garden village in mind,” he said.

Deputy chief executive Andrew Jarrett said the council is meeting with the government later this month to discuss why the bid has not succeeded, and stressed: “We will be doing everything we can.”

“This is a key strategic piece of infrastructure that is very, very important to this council’s delivery aspirations.”

Cllr Chesterton added that he had held “exploratory conversations” with the area’s MP Neil Parish (Conservative, Tiverton & Honiton) about what other options might be to get the road built.

“He has certainly agreed to go and take it on board and try and see how far he can get at the Westminster end with conversations.”

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