IntroductionThe A380 between Penn Inn, Newton Abbot and KerswellGardens, Torquay is one of the most choked up and heavilyused roads in the region, carrying over 35,000 vehicles a day.Devon County Council and Torbay Council are working togetheron proposals to improve the link with a new road.Running to the west of the existing A380 and bypassingKingskerswell, the South Devon Link Road will provide a safer,less congested and faster route for through traffic, with theexisting road remaining to provide a quieter route for localtraffic, buses, cyclists and pedestrians.It will provide a host of other environmental and economicbenefits, too. These are outlined in more detail on thefollowing boards.
BackgroundAs the main route into Torbay, the A380 has been a verybusy road for many years with local residents, workers andholidaymakers stuck in traffic jams on a daily basis.In 2005, planning permission was granted for the proposedscheme and work was planned to start in 2010, but progresswas stalled as a result of the Government spending review.The Government has allocated £630m for new transportimprovement schemes, so the South Devon Link Road has tocompete for funding alongside other schemes in a developmentpool. Devon and Torbay are finalising their proposals forsubmission to the Department for Transport in early September.A decision is expected in December 2011,which will be basedon a number of factors, but will consider whether the schememeets carbon challenges, provides value for money, andimportantly, has public support.
What is the problem?Congestion is the problem – and it’s a major one. It’s not just thetime spent in traffic jams or stationary cars, it’s also many otherissues. The congestion causes safety problems as more traffictries to avoid the jams, and uses unsuitable minor or back roadscreating rat runs and dangers to pedestrians, residents andcyclists. It’s a noisy road too and as a result of 35,000 vehiclesusing it each day, so close to residential areas, the air quality ispoor and a major cause for concern. Cyclists and pedestrians arenot keen to use the road because of the heavy traffic and busesare frequently delayed by the unpredictable nature of the road.There are other related effects. As the road is so congested,it causes a problem for businesses that can’t rely on it for theirworkforce, appointments or suppliers. That causes businessesto relocate, taking jobs – and so it affects the local and widereconomy. As jobs become more scarce, more people move,taking up opportunities to train and work elsewhere, creatinga skills shortage, and leaving lower paid jobs behind.Congestion is at the heart of this problem and it isn’t a newsituation. It has to be addressed for Torbay to be able to growand bring in the new people, skills and supplies it needs to thrive.
What’s the problem? (continued)The problem has been ongoing for many years. In 1999, a studywas commissioned by both councils to look at all the options toreduce the impact of vehicle travel in the area. Importantly, thebrief stated that the study should prioritise walking, cycling andpublic transport, with cars as a last resort.The study confirmed that the road was at capacity, creatingcongestion and the associated problems. It also showed that itimpacts on a very wide cross section of people - local residents,businesses, workers, tourists, children going to school or college,suppliers, people coming to Torbay to shop or for leisure time.There are thousands of people who are affected and couldbenefit from a new, improved route.
What are the options?The study went on to consider seven different options: • Do nothing – situation stays the same • Do minimum – small scale improvements • Traffic Management and control systems • Scheme to encourage use of other modes of transport, eg bus lanes • On-Line Highway Schemes – targeted measures on the existing road to improve traffic flow • Offline Highway Schemes – new developments away from existing road • Complementary Measures – introduction of measures in association with other schemesEach of these points was carefullyconsidered, not just as a singleoption but also in conjunction withother aspects, eg do minimum withcomplementary measures. Althoughno single option met every objective,it was clear that a bypass (offlinehighway scheme) represented thebest and most practical choice.Combined with appropriateenvironmental protection measures,it offered the most benefits and wouldensure that the area could flourishand prosper.
Benefits in generalThe new link road will bring a host of benefits for everyone –ranging from environmental, economic to social fronts.The scheme is vital to improving the quality of life for the localcommunity, but also for the prosperity of businesses in the Bayand further afield across the county. Businesses could rely onthe road once more, making the area more attractive to newenterprise and investors, boosting the economy and providingmore jobs.The key environmental gains of the scheme are: • Improving air quality • Reducing noise levels • Road safety improvements • Habitat enhancements Other benefits that will be brought about by the transport strategy include: • Sustainable transport with more cycle routes • More reliable buses • Improved train service, with a potential new station • Better quality of life for local residentsEconomically, the main rewards are through the return oninvestment into the scheme. In other words for each poundspent on the road, there will be £9 in return, by creating the rightconditions for investment and savings in benefits. It creates theright conditions for valuable new jobs, new business and newopportunities that can help the economy to grow.
Air qualityIn 1997, local authorities in the UK were tasked with carrying outan assessment of air quality in their area. This involves measuringair pollution and trying to predict how it will change in the nextfew years, to ensure that it can comply with limits and to protectpeople’s health and the environment.Where a council finds that an area cannot achieve these limits,it has to be declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA).This area could be just one or two streets, or it could be much bigger.A plan to improve the air quality must then be put into place.In 2005, Teignbridge Council declared the area from Penn Innto Kerswell Gardens an AQMA since the amount of nitrogendioxide were in excess of the limits. Nitrogen dioxide is createdthrough the combustion process - in this case from the exhaustsof vehicles. It can contribute to breathing problems and asthmarelated conditions.
Air quality (continued)The plans for the scheme have looked at this issue in great detail,and by modelling the traffic flows, it is clear that the bypass willimprove the air quality for the residents of Kingskerswell helpingto protect human health and the environment.From the opening day, the air quality will improve. Although therewill be more vehicles, they will not be stuck in jams and the routeis generally further away from sensitive areas such as hospitals,schools and people’s homes. This will all help to create a better,cleaner atmosphere.Even in the cases where the route does run closer to residentialhousing, the limits will not be exceeded as is presently the case.This is due to the distance of the road from houses ensuringemissions disperse faster.
NoiseNoise from the existing A380 dominates the route for much of the day.As heavy traffic passes it produces sound levels equivalent to anoisy office or the edge of a construction site, at about 70 decibels.The new road will take the traffic away from more houses, andalso have sound barriers where necessary to reduce the noise.As a result through Kingskerswell it will be much quieter – infact the noise will reduce by half. It has been forecast to be 60decibels, which due to the way sound is measured, correspondsto 50% of the previous volume. At this level, one could havea conversation at normal levels and still be heard, whereaspeople have to shout to make themselves heard over thecurrent background noise.
Biodiversity andprotecting the landscapeThe proposed road cuts through a valley and acrossdownland, so an extensive environmental modelling exercisehas been undertaken to inform the plans. Resulting from thesefindings, work has begun to ensure that the environment,animals and plants are not affected any more than necessary,and in the case of some species, will benefit from the scheme.Cirl Buntings and lesser horseshoe bats are a primaryconcern. Working with Natural England, the Councils havebegun a series of projects to improve their habitat, creatingnew foraging land near Eginswell, building new roosts andhelping RSPB acquiring part of Labrador Bay as a wildlifemanagement area.Additional measures are planned for other species, rangingfrom badger tunnels to otter fences, whilst fish will have newspawning pools.The net effect is to improve the environment for many of theseliving things. Natural England and the Environment Agencyhave approved all the measures and are satisfied they meettheir requirements.
SafetyKeeping our communities safe is the number one priority for theCouncils. By providing safer and more spacious facilities for roadusers, cyclists and pedestrians there will be a huge improvementin safety. This benefit is not just for the actual route, it will alsohelp the residents along the rat runs, used by drivers trying toavoid the existing road.Over the lifetime of the new road, it will prevent 22 fatalities and196 serious road traffic injuries. It will also prevent nearly 1500other people from being injured.This is clearly good news in terms of preventing injury or death,and the dreadful consequences for families and friends, and it isalso helpful to others using the road, who will not be delayed asa result of road traffic accidents. That helps businessesdependent on the road, which can rely on a free flow of traffic.
Reducing car useThe present A380 does have a cycle lane. But would you behappy about sharing your space with 35,000 other vehicleseach day?One of the key objectives is to persuade people out of theircars and into alternative modes of transport, which is betterfor the environment, often better for our pocket and canbe better for our health too. So getting people onto theirbikes, buses or to walk to their destination is the aim. At themoment, this isn’t an appealing or practical option.By reducing traffic on the rat runs – the back roads used ascut-throughs by people trying to avoid the traffic on the A380- pedestrians will also be safer, and it will be a much moreenjoyable and safe experience to walk.Making the most of the space released by cutting trafficthrough the village is important. There is potential to introducemore space for pedestrians and cyclists, together withchanges in lighting and landscaping. In developing the design,the needs and preferences of users and residents, includingsuch as local school children will be considered. There is alsopotential for a valley walking and cycling route to connectTorbay, Kingskerswell and Newton Abbot. This is morecomplex and will take some time to develop, although somesections could be achieved earlier.
Travel by bus and coachThe service 12 bus route between Torbay and Newton Abbot isone of the busiest in the South West. Currently there are about1600 return trips between Newton Abbot and Torquay and manymore on the service as a whole. This runs about every ten minutes.Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly reliable service in terms of time asit is frequently held up in traffic. Around half of the time the buses arelate because of congestion. Elsewhere the figure is more like 10%.This is one of the factors behind the Megabus service – a coachservice to London - being withdrawn.The South Devon Link Road’s reduction of congestion throughKingskerswell is only one of a number of planned or proposedimprovements to bus services along the corridor including theintroduction of smartcards, real time information on servicereliability and priority measures to ensure delays are kept to aminimum. Stagecoach will also be introducing a new fleet ofvehicles on service 12 in 2012 which will include comfortableleather seats and wifi.Vince Flower, MD for Shearings Hotels says: “From a customer pointof view the South Devon Link Road is needed very badly. Shearingsbring 35,000 people to Torbay each year to enjoy all that is has tooffer. 30,000 of them are accommodated in one of four hotels inthe Bay and we want them to enjoy it from start to finish. We havesignificant investment in Torbay and making it succeed is vital.”
Trains and railwaysRail travel on the A380 corridor between Torbay and Exeterhas grown significantly in recent years, so much so thatNetwork Rail have proposed the doubling of the frequency oflocal trains from 2016. Additional direct services to and fromLondon Paddington have also been recently introduced.The line is an integral part of Devon and Torbay’s proposedDevon Metro network in the new joint Local Transport Planwith several new stations including Edginswell and MarshBarton. Improvements to existing stations such as NewtonAbbot, including access by walking and cycling, are alsoproposed. Newton Abbot will be the railhead for Kingskerswellwith enhanced access by bike and bus.Devon and Torbay will be negotiating with future trainoperators and the Department of Transport to ensure that thematching improvements in quantity and quality of trains aredelivered through the new rail franchises.As part of the scheme, the plan is to improve transport linksoverall, so Devon County Council and Torbay Council arelooking at a new station at Edginswell to serve the local andbusiness community. Working with Network Rail and FirstGreat Western, more regular trains could be introduced,making rail a real, and inviting possibility once more.
Quality of life for local residentsAs part of the proposals, there are a number of small projectsbeing introduced to support the communities affected byconstruction of the new road.A new playground is being built at Daccabridge Road inKingskerswell with the input of the Parish Council. In associationwith this development, and bearing in mind the rest of thecommunity, an important new feature will also be built - flooddefence measures. There is more about this on the panel aboutwater management.There will also be an area set aside for allotments at AllerJunction, alongside the village and by the side of the railway.These allotments will be set up in 2016 and to help ensure thebest possible start, advice will be on hand from Devon CountyCouncil and Devon Wildlife Trust to enable people to grow theirown fruit and vegetables.
Water management andreducing the risk of floodingThe outlying valley area of the A380 is prone to flooding, withEdginswell Stream and Aller Brook close to residential areas.Whilst this may not be a regular occurrence, modelling by theEnvironment Agency shows that there is a real risk and so anyconstruction needs to take this into account.The scheme proposals have therefore been designed withthese issues in mind, and as a result, limit the potential forflooding in the future.After careful consideration by the Environment Agency, it issupportive of the scheme. It has stated that construction ofthe road will offer significant benefits in terms of reducing thepresent flood risk for residents living along the valley route ofthe road.
Economic benefitsTorbay is not a well off area. Its wage economy is one of thepoorest in the country – it is 379th out of 380 authorities.Sadly, one in three children in the Bay are brought up belowthe official poverty line.These stark facts show how the economy of the area is sufferingbecause of the poor road access, affecting employmentprospects, investment and business. The existing A380 is atfull capacity – it simply can’t take any more traffic. As a result,growth has been just 0.08% since 1988.The new road scheme is not a cheap option, so the Councilsneeded to be sure that it was worth spending vital public fundson the scheme. Recent economic research* has shown thatthis is very much the case. For every £1 spent, it will create £9in terms of new jobs, and saving on benefits. This rate of returnmakes it one of the top schemes in the country, but provingthe difference to Torbay is vital, as there are other communitiescompeting for the funding. *ERS June 2010.
Issues – overviewNaturally, as with any scheme of this size, there will be somewho are opposed to it. There have been consultations in2002, 2006 and a public inquiry in 2009. During that time,the community has been invited to make their views known.Key issues for the scheme have been: • whether it really is required • impact on the landscape • impact on the view • construction nuisance • landAt the time of the public inquiry there were 162representations. These include 21 statutory objections fromland owners, occupiers or utility companies and67 non-statutory objections from local residents,the general public or interested parties.
Dealing with concernsThe case for the new road is clear. Research has shown itwill transform the economy and communities of the Bay.More information can be found on our website.The landscape is sensitive, but with the help of NaturalEngland, we have been able to adapt and even enhance thehabitat for many species of birds, animals and plants.In terms of the appearance of the scheme, there are manycuttings and plantings proposed that will screen the road fromthe majority of people. More information is shown on our maps.Construction nuisance is a real issue, but we are confidentthat our contractors will work to ensure as little disruptionand as few problems as possible. We have undertaken othersimilar schemes and whilst there may be some inconveniencein the short term, the benefits outweigh the disadvantagesin the long term.Only 79 objections are still registered, whilst the inquiry notedthat 74 people had written letters of support. Since then, manymore people have expressed their backing for the scheme.
Business – not as usualIt’s a fact of life that most businesses are finding it hard atthe moment, but it is particularly hard for businesses in Torbay.Recently, Beverage Brands, makers of WKD, indicated theyare being forced to move because of the lack of a decent road.This will result in another 30 jobs being lost in the area.Business organisations across Torbay are backingthe proposals. Alan Archer, Chair of Torbay Business Forum says:“The South Devon Link Road is a crucial success factor in driving the economy forward; Torbay has a lot to offer businesses, but better access will be the final piece in the jigsaw to create a prime destination to live, work, visit and invest in.”
Wider Devon EconomyWith the link road bringing new jobs into being, the wholeof Devon’s economy will benefit. Around 3,300 jobs couldbe created outside of Torbay as a result of the scheme.This would generate another £97m per year for the Devoneconomy, which will benefit a much wider area.With more people in work, more tax will be generated, helpingto boost the economy. The additional jobs will create an extra£4m in revenue.Jeremy Filmer Bennett, Chief Executive of Devon and CornwallBusiness Council says: “The bypass will transform the economyof Devon and bring benefits to an even wider area. Businessesrely on proper infrastructure for their employees, their suppliers,their products and their customers.This road is crucial to securing the long term future of Torbayand it’s vital that we all get behind the scheme and make sureGovernment realise how important it is to our communities.”
ScheduleThe following is a list of the key events that have occurredover the lifetime of planning the scheme:1951 Bypass route shown on County Development Plan by Devon County Council1977 Public consultation for alternative route and route adopted1987 Public exhibitions of detailed scheme drawings1989 Government take on delivery of the scheme as part of their trunk roads programme1996 Scheme abandoned by the Government2002 Devon County Council and Torbay Council carry out Public Consultation for a reduced scheme2005 Planning consent granted2007 First bid for major scheme funding2008 Compulsory Purchase Orders made2009 Public Inquiry – no outcome has been published as yet2009 Tenders invited for the construction contract2009 Government Spending Review – all transport schemes suspended2010 Scheme is placed in the development pool for consideration with 45 other schemes