Cullompton’s relief road in doubt as Levelling Up bid fails again

“People across Tiverton & Honiton will rightly be outraged by this decision, which is holding up key projects like the Cullompton Relief Road and investment in both Axminster and Seaton” – Richard Foord MP.

Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com

The future of Cullompton’s long-awaited relief road has been thrown into doubt after a bid for £19.5million Levelling Up funding failed. A second bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, submitted by Mid Devon District Council has ended in disappointment following the announcement on Thursday, January 19.

The Council submitted a bid for £19.5 million of funds from the scheme which, combined with funding from Devon County Council and the Housing Infrastructure Fund, would have delivered the remaining money needed to build the town centre relief road for Cullompton. Despite a strong bid the Government has now confirmed the bid was unsuccessful.

It was one of a number of projects across Devon will failed to succeed in its bid. But bids for Appledore, Exmouth and Okehampton did succeed.

Councillor Richard Chesterton, cabinet member for planning and economic regeneration, said: “It is obviously extremely disappointing that Mid Devon has once again been unsuccessful. This was a high quality submission, supported by extensive technical evidence which clearly set out the need for funding in order to tackle existing transport and air quality challenges within the town, as well as the need to unlock strategic growth within the town.

“Clearly, the decision not to fund the delivery of the relief road will now directly limit housing and economic growth within Cullompton and have implications for the district as a whole.”

Even though the news is disappointing Mid Devon District Council remains committed to supporting investment in Cullompton, to address these existing challenges in the town and to realise strategic growth within the town as foreseen through the Local Plan.

The relief road, which has already secured planning permission, is considered to be a major strategic growth project for the district. Its delivery would unlock environmental and air quality improvements within Cullompton town centre, as well as unlock early growth capacity at J28. It is also needed to allow the area to meets its future housing delivery plans.

As such the Council will now seek other funding opportunities to support the delivery of the relief road whilst progressing the delivery of other key infrastructure projects, including the re-opening of Cullompton railway station by May 2025.

MP for Cullompton, Richard Foord added his frustration saying: “This news is a body blow for our communities, who have been crying out for this vital investment for years. By failing to honour their commitments to level up our part of Devon, the Conservatives have shown just how woefully out of touch they are.

“It’s clear they are continuing to take our communities for granted and have yet to hear the message from their by-election loss last summer. “People across Tiverton & Honiton will rightly be outraged by this decision, which is holding up key projects like the Cullompton Relief Road and investment in both Axminster and Seaton.

“I will continue to hold the Government to account and demand that the South West gets the investment we have long been promised – so we can unlock the true potential of our part of Devon.”

Speaking after a debate in the House of Commons he added: “Sat in the chamber and it’s pretty galling to hear Conservative MPs standing up one after the other to boast about the success of their Levelling Up bids – with some directly attributing it to the fact their party is in Government. No wonder Sunak’s patch got £19m while we got £0.”

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