Cullompton relief road needed to unlock 2,000 homes plan

Which comes first: the “garden village” of 2,000 or the relief road; and will the “garden village” development stop at 2,000? 

Sounds familiar? – Owl

Ollie Heptinstall www.devonlive.com

Plans for a new Cullompton relief road are progressing despite full funding not yet being secured. Mid Devon District Council is still awaiting the outcome of a fresh bid to the government’s levelling-up fund, which will provide most of the road’s revised new £28 million cost.

However, to prevent further delays, the authority’s ruling cabinet agreed on Tuesday to use a further £210,000 of £10 million cash already secured from Homes England to carry out further technical work. The planned road to the east of the town will improve capacity at junction 28 of the M5.

The aims it also to help reduce traffic through the town centre and unlock the development of 2,000 homes nearby, including an initial 500 properties as part of what is being called Culm Garden Village. It will also provide improved pedestrian and cycle access to the planned new Cullompton railway station, which could be in use by 2025.

Mid Devon approved a new bid to the government levelling-up fund’s second round last June, after an initial bid was rejected in December 2021. Originally set to cost £15 million, the road has now ballooned to a projected £28 million; blamed on increased construction costs, replacing sporting facilities and the potential amount needed to buy land.

Planning permission has already been granted for both the road and a new home for Cullompton Cricket Club, which will need to relocate. Devon County Council supports the project and has pledged £1.5 million, while the area’s Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has also given his backing.

Cabinet member for planning and economic regeneration, Councillor Richard Chesterton (Conservative, Lower Culm), told this week’s meeting: “It is the first of more than just this infrastructure that will be needed to deliver ultimately the Culm Garden Village.

“That’s part of what has made the levelling-up bid, we think, quite a good bid that hopefully government will accept, because it does bring forward so much else for the town and allow things that the government are obviously wanting to deliver in terms of the garden village.”

He added: “Hopefully the levelling-up [bid] will be granted but obviously, in the meantime, we have to deliver the relief road to be able to progress long-term on the other items that are on the agenda for Cullompton.”

Highlighting the project’s importance, Councillor Margaret Squires (Conservative, Sandford and Creedy) referred to a comment made by a Cullompton resident, stating: “The existing Cullompton could be dying if the relief road’s not delivered, so I welcome any progress.”

Councillors were previously told how the terms of the funding already provided by Homes England requires the road to be built by March. A council director acknowledged this agreement would need to be reviewed, probably when the outcome of the levelling-up bid is known.

Cabinet members agreed to use a further £210,000 of funding already in place to carry out further technical work, subject to an “agreement on appropriate indemnity” to protect the council from paying back the money if the levelling-up bid fails. It expects to hear whether the bid has been successful by the end of January.

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