E&E Community News | Alphington Park & Ride

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20 August 2015

Alphington Village Forum has approved of the county council’s new site for a park and ride on the Ide side of the A30 instead of the original plan for it on the other side of the road on part of the Alphin Brook conservation area.

In its sreponse the Forum said: “The Alphington Village Forum, representing the residents of the village, strongly opposed the use of an area designated as a conservation area and a valley park being converted to a concreted Park &Ride.

“There are few enough green spaces like this in Alphington and we need to preserve them.

“We would be happy to accept the development of the so-called Round Field as the future Park & Ride if there really must be one at the A30/Alphington junction.

“However, we don’t believe it will help very much with the terrible traffic congestion currently on Alphington Road as this will just fill up again with all the cars coming from the 2,500 new homes being built in the near future in South West Exeter.

“Also, we cannot image drivers wishing to leave their cars in order to sit on a crowded bus in a slow-moving traffic jam!

“For that reason, we suggest that the park & ride bus goes the opposite way, past the entrance to Ide and then turn right at the T-junction and up over Dunsford Hill and down Cowick Street. It could also pick up residents from Ide on the way.”

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Update from @DevonCC on #SWExeter Park & Ride

I’ve had a update from Devon County Council to summarise the current position, which I post unedited – I trust this is helpful…

The County Council maintains that there is a strong case for a Park and Ride site (with opportunities to Park and Cycle, Park and CarShare) at the interchange of the A30/A377; however, we took a decision to pause and re-evaluate the alternative options as we may at some point need to demonstrate why no other alternative site is suitable. We have always been clear that the site must be within the vicinity of this junction because it will attract people from both the A30 and A38 directions, therefore our assessment included sites within 500m of the junction. Outside of this range and traffic is expected to find it too remote and there would also be substantially increased revenue costs associated with running bus services to the facility.

I’ve set out below some of our reasons for proceeding with pre-application discussions on the basis of the ’round field’ site…

Environmental
There are a number of challenges in delivering a Park and Ride facility on the Oaklands site, which is part of the Alphin Brook Conservation Area and Valley Park.

Whilst we believe that there are opportunities to sensitively design the site to minimise landscape/visual impacts and enhance the park with additional planting and new improved routes, it remains a sensitive issue amongst the local community and key stakeholders, including English Heritage.

The Round Field site is part of an Area of Great Landscape Value; however, is an isolated field located between the A30, which runs directly alongside one edge of the field and the road that leads to Ide (it is largely out of view from this approach). Although a raised site, we believe that with appropriate planting, the impacts from long distance views can be minimised.

Accessibility
Given the busy nature of Alphington Road, in order to serve the Oaklands site there would need to be significant junction works to introduce signals and also address the level changes between Alphington Road and the site itself. Furthermore, at some places, a 4 lane-wide carriageway would be needed to provide for an inbound bus lane, an inbound all-traffic lane, an outbound traffic lane and an outbound right turn lane into the P&R. This would require loss of the screen of trees running along Alphington Road and would be costly in engineering terms.

The round field site, by comparison, is served off a less busy road and could be accessed by a simple roundabout junction. A junction in this location may also have the benefit of slowing speeds for traffic exiting the A30 and heading towards Ide.

In the morning peaks, traffic exiting the A30 (and turning right towards the city) can queue in lane 2 on the slip road.

Similarly, traffic exiting the A30 (from Okehampton) queues in lane 1 on the slip road.

The Park and Ride traffic would be able to use the comparatively empty lanes towards Ide to bypass the queues and gain easy access to the facility.

There would still be plans to create an inbound bus lane but this would make Alphington Road only 3 lanes wide and could retain the screen of trees along its length, therefore minimising the environmental impacts.

There is scope to improve cycle routes from the round field site towards the city centre as there is a route under the A30 adjacent to it.

There is also potential to improve walking and cycling routes to local communities, offering opportunities for residents to interchange with a frequent and direct bus service to the city centre.

Size
Our most recent assessment concluded that a 600-space P&R facility would be sufficient based on predicted demand; however, the ’round field’ site was previously rejected on the basis of a 900-space car park. Our assessment suggests approximately 600 spaces could be accommodated at the round field site and therefore should not be discounted as an option for being ‘too small’.

Cost
Both the County Council and District Councils have less funding directly available to them and there are significant demands on Community Infrastructure Levy, therefore it is important that we find a solution that delivers best value for money.

There were significant costs associated with the Oaklands Site, namely the need to raise the site by 1 metre in order to achieve satisfactory drainage and the highway works described above under ‘Accessibility’.

Although a full cost assessment has not been carried out for the ’round field’ site, the fewer environmental constraints and ‘simplified’ highway works would suggest it could be delivered at a reduced cost to the Oaklands site.

We are planning to host a public consultation at West Exe School between 4pm and 8pm on 21st July, where there will of course be opportunities to ask officers questions about the proposals.

#CWEST | #ECC15 election special

Often during election campaigns candidates are contacted by pressure groups and similar organisations asking them to respond to a series of questions.

On 13 April I was contacted by CWEST [Campaign for SW Exeter Smarter Travel] for my views on transport-related issues in SW Exeter.

I immediately contacted CWEST to let them know there would be a delay in replying to their 3 questions as I was busy with composing a long response to the Devon County Public Transport Review consultation – especially in regard to withdrawal of evening and Sunday services on the P bus route.

As it happened, in between receiving the questions and composing my letter answering them, things took an interesting turn as DCC decided to postpone a proposed workshop on the Alphington Park & Ride and announce that they may be considering alternatives to the current front-runner on the fields of Oaklands Riding Stables at the Ide Interchange of A30.

My short reply went in a few days later, on 20 April – a day after the end of the bus consultation – as did a much longer and more considered response. Both of these were able to include the recent pronouncements.

The next I heard from CWEST was a e-mail and a link to a press release on The Exeter Daily website, published on 28 April 2014 under the title Prospective councillors disappoint

A group campaigning for better travel solutions in the south west areas of Exeter has asked all prospective councillors for Cowick, Alphington and St Thomas for their views on key issues such as whether or not they support a review of proposed measures, including a park and ride on the site of Oaklands Riding School. The reply to date has been mainly silence.

CWEST (Campaign for SW Exeter Smarter Travel) spokesperson, Lynn Wetenhall said: “We are very surprised and disappointed with the lack of response from prospective councillors. 

“A fortnight after sending out the questions, only the Green Party candidates and one Labour party candidate have replied. You would think that prospective ward councillors would be keen to express their views on such important local matters”.

CWEST have not yet received any replies from the remaining Labour candidates, nor any of the Conservative, Lib Dem or UKIP candidates.

Of the replies received, the Labour party candidate (Paul Bull) and all of the Green Party candidates (Kay Powell, Andrew Bell, Emily Marsay) are agreed in saying that if elected, they would work to stop the park and ride being built on the Oaklands riding school site. All of those who replied also endorsed CWEST’s request for a full and open review of the current transport proposals for the SW area of the city.

I feel that CWEST have misrepresented my statement about the P&R somewhat.

My actual reply to the question What is your position whether a Park & Ride scheme should be built on the Oaklands Riding School fields was:
“I am not against P&R schemes per se, but I will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oaklands Riding School at any cost. DCC will have to convince me that a P&R scheme on this site is better than one located elsewhere, and if located here will work to reduce traffic congestion along the Alphington Road corridor.”

Maybe I wasn’t clear enough (or my phrasing led to some ambiguity) so let me clarify once and for all:
“I will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oaklands Riding School unconditionally. There would have to be a very strong case to be made by DCC to convince me that Oaklands is a suitable site”.

I have asked CWEST for the article on The Exeter Daily to be amended [to date at the time of writing, it is still misrepresenting my view]

I also asked CWEST  to follow up on their promise  they  “will be publicising all responses and non-responses from prospective councillors” by placing them on their website, which they did on 01 May 2015 and I reproduce here

Exeter Council election special

Attention if you live in  St Thomas, Alphington or Cowick wards. There are city council seats up for grabs on May 7th. This page contains information to help you make a decision on who to vote for if you live in these wards and have not yet made up your mind. Make your voice heard and influence what happens in your area.

CWEST wrote to all of the candidates, (on April 13th) asking them:
– if they agreed with the need for a review of current transport proposals for SW Exeter,
– whether they agreed with putting a park and ride on the Oaklands Riding School fields,and
– whether they agreed that the current and planned provision for pedestrians and cyclists  is wholly inadequate

Here are the replies CWEST has received so far and the ‘no replies’. Parties listed in alphabetical order…

1. Conservative Party. 
None of the prospective candidates have replied.

2. Green Party.
All the candidates replied via one response and agreed with all of CWEST’s proposals ie review of transport, not putting a park and ride on Oaklands site and the need for a more strategic approach to provision for cyclists and pedestrians in the area. See their full responses here

3. Labour Party.
Prospective councillors Hannah Packham and Paul Bull agree that “ there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter and that they “will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oakfields Riding School at any cost”.  They were both supportive of better provision for cyclists and pedestrians. Their full replies can be seen here and here

4. Liberal Democrats. 
None of the prospective candidates have replied.

5. UKIP.
None of the prospective candidates have replied.

I note that candidates from both BNP and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition were not asked for comments.

I’ve tried the link to the Green’s collective response several times and this is what I’m still getting 48 hours after posting.

Screen shot 2015-05-03 at 10.53.24

I’ve seen at least 2 tweets referring to this site, so they obviously haven’t checked the links!

#CWEST | Transport issues in #SWExeter – a response from @HanLP

Candidates for wards in West Exe have been contacted by CWEST (Campaign for SW Smarter Travel ) for their views on transport issues in SW Exeter.

Here is a copy of the response from Hannah Packham, Exeter Labour’s candidate in St Thomas:

Q1 Do you agree that there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter?

Yes, I do believe there should be full and open review of transport needs across SW Exeter.

There are a number of complex issues involved, including the need to support more environmentally friendly methods of transport, tackling increased congestion and the impact of the new communities planned in SW Exeter.

This openness needs to be spread across the whole of Exeter and the developments on its boundaries, particularly to the east where there are specific problems arising in East Devon – an authority who importantly do not have a Local Plan which would include infrastructure questions – unlike Exeter City Council, which does.

Q2 What is your position whether a Park & Ride scheme should be built on the Oaklands Riding School fields.

There are arguments that suggest a park & ride in or around Ide Interchange with A30 could help reduce congestion on the Alphinghton Road corridor.

I understand DCC appear to be exploring other sites which are yet unknown – these may offer a better solution to the problem than that offered by Oaklands

The situation surrounding the current site of Alphington P&R needs to be resolved in order for me to comment in more detail.

However, I will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oaklands Riding School at any cost. DCC will have to convince me that a P&R on this site is the best location, and that a scheme located here will help to reduce traffic congestion along Alphington Road.

Q3 Do you agree that current Cycling Strategy for Exeter is wholly inadequate as regards Alphington, St Thomas and Marsh Barton

DCC have just adopted a strategy on this; at this stage I believe it is too early see what implications this has in terms of bidding for funds for implementation.

I am a keen cyclist and very keen to see the cycle routes across the city improved. Of course this will require ECC and DCC working together to take into account current traffic follows, analysis of safety for all concerned and the funding streams available.

I have already been attempting to improve the cycle routes in St Thomas, highlighting where, for example, on Cowick Street after road resurfacing the cycle path just stops, and I believe is dangerous. At my request Ben Bradshaw has also visited the area and cycled the St Thomas cycle paths with me as this is one of our priorities in the city.

One of the successes of Exeter as a Cycling Demonstration Town was that 6% of travel to work was by cycling.

The 2011 Exeter Cycling Strategy sought to improve this to 20% by 2021.

I am disappointed that the new DCC Cycling Strategy approved at Cabinet on 08/04/15 has downgraded this aspiration to be 12% by 2021.

We have in Exeter and the surrounding areas some excellent leisure cycling routes. I would like to see cycling routes and schemes that enable people to undertake their daily commute on their bike.

This will undoubtedly require improved cycle routes, potentially as the question asks, one which runs parallel to Alphington Road, and others. I also believe that nationally and locally we should be encouraging employers to provide facilities which encourage and enable their employees to cycle into work, with the provision of cycle storage, showers etc. I know that a number of trade unions are also keen to prompt these schemes and may also prove beneficial partners in this area.

Finally, I am worried that the strategic funding for major transport infrastructure has moved from DCC to the Heart of the South West Local Transport Board, making decisions on such matters far less democratically accountable.

Thank you for your questions on these important issues. We speak to residents throughout the year in St Thomas, and while cycle lanes and cycling safety have been raised, and some localised road layout issues, it may be worth mentioning that the wider, more strategic overview of travel in SW Exeter has unfortunately not been an issue raised on the doorstep.

Hannah Packham
Exeter Labour City Council Candidate – St Thomas

#CWEST | Transport issues in #SWExeter [a much longer response]

Comments from
Cllr Paul Bull, ward councillor for Cowick on Exeter City Council
15 April 2015

Q1 Do you agree that there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter?

The simple answer is “YES, I agree that there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter”

But it is probably worth expanding on that short answer into a long exploration as to why I have come to that conclusion

There has been a long and involved history regarding the provision of a Park & Ride Site to serve the SW gateway to Exeter.

Some of this history is set out by CWEST in a briefing document “Alphington Park and Ride – what’s it for?
[use the link to “have a look at this” to download it].

My own involvement with this site started in 2010 when I was selected as Exeter Labour Party Candidate for Cowick.

As a candidate – and then as newly elected councillor – I supported the aims and objectives of the Stop The Alphington Park & Ride campaign.

Back then, I thought that the infrastructure for the 800+ spaces being proposed for the site would not sufficient to make any significant impact on the 1000 cars an hour in both directions using the Alphington Road corridor between 0700 – 1900.

There were a couple of planning applications submitted by DCC Highways which had to be considered by ECC Planning Committee for comments before going before DCC’s own Development Management Committee. No decision was actually made, but the plan has continued to be on the back-burner.

My own objection to ECC Planning Committee of 21/02/11 can be seen in an earlier blogpost

It is interesting to note that the Scheme Prioritisation Proforma document prepared in 2013 by Heart of the SW Local Transport Board [HotSWLTB] states:
Commercial – flexibility of option
The scheme is flexible and can be adapted to suit funding availability (e.g. size of parking and frequency of services) however it should be noted that a reduction in capacity and frequency will result in a less effective scheme

This seems to suggest that HotSWLTB think that a 800 space P&R site is the bare minimum needed to address traffic congestion.

If there were to be a viable P&R near this interchange that really did remove traffic from the Alphington Road corridor scheme, I believe the size would be need to be nearer to 2000 -2500 spaces. There may have been suitable sites with the boundaries of Teignbridge District Council, but these were rejected outright by DCC apparently because they would be too costly to progress.

This was confirmed to me in a FoI Request (Information Request 001147) that said:
“The preferred location for the proposed park and ride facility (site C) was chosen following a rigorous assessment of alternative sites, as documented in the Site Options Appraisal Report (SOAR) which supports the planning application; which can be viewed via the following, on the County Council website.

http://www.devon.gov.uk/appref?id=3834&date=2010-12

A holistic approach was taken to the selection of a site, giving consideration to both environmental and technical issues. In addition to the significant and costly earthworks, sites A and E would result in significantly adverse visual impacts due to their elevations. They would also be less attractive to users approaching from the A30 due to their more remote locations.

In view of these issues, it was not considered prudent to spend time and money undertaking geotechnical investigations and design work to determine detailed cost estimates for these sites, and therefore Devon

County Council does not hold the information relating to the cost of developing sites A and E that you request. However, it is clear that construction of a park and ride facility on sites A or E would cost significantly more than site C due to their landform and likely access requirements.

Please also be assured that a significant amount of traffic assessment work has been undertaken to ensure that the proposed facility is appropriately sized for both current and future demand.”

[UPDATE 17/04/15 – It seems that DCC might be exploring alternative sites! I will be interested to see where these are].

The land proposed for the Alphington P&R is an important green approach to Exeter from the West.

The site currently enjoys 3 levels of protection:
– as part of the Alphin Brook Conservation Area;
– as the Alphin Brook Valley Park;and
– as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.

It appears with this protection, the only type of development under planning regulations that can happen on this site is Park & Ride.

Devon County Council’s Local Transport Plan 2006 – 2011 [LTP2 Devon On The Move] called for a fourth P&R site for Exeter near Ide Interchange but it had to be
Introduced with provision of a bus priority route into the city”.

One of my principal objections back in 2011 was that the infrastructure was not in place to allow the P&R buses quick, easy and convenient access to and from the city centre.

Since then, DCC has delivered elements of the Exeter Principal Urban Area (PUA) infrastructure – notably the Link Road by Sainsbury into Marsh Barton and improvements to Alphington Road between Alphington Cross and Marsh Barton Road. These have has little or no effect on the traffic flow numbers along this corridor.

The HotSWLTB proforma paper talks about the Scale of Impact
The scheme does not currently include any bus priority measures on the Alphington Road corridor. Previous scheme designs did feature bus lanes but these have been removed to reduce the scheme cost. However this is still being considered and the aspiration is to provide inbound bus lanes from the park and ride to Marsh Barton Road.

So it seems that there are still no plans for bus priority lanes!

 Back in 2011, I thought that a 800+ space P&R site was too small to make a significant impact to the Alphington Road corridor, and nothing I have heard in the interim will convince me a 650 space scheme is any different.

Gong back to the HotSWLTB document, in the description of the scheme there is also a reference to:
The first priority is to improve access to the city and the Alphington Park and Ride is one of two new proposed schemes that will capture traffic on the outskirts and provide additional capacity into Exeter.”

In 2013 there was no planned scheme for the north of the city, so I can only assume that this was reference to an intention to deliver a P&R site for SW Exeter urban extension within the Teignbridge District Council boundaries as that district worked on its emerging Local Plan.

Back then, there were at least 3 options being discussed:
– Expanding Matford P&R site;
– Delivering new P&R site close to A379, within TDC boundaries; or
– Reinvestigate Ide Interchange site

I never viewed these options as mutually exclusive, and thought there might be good grounds to deliver more than one option.

And the options within TDC had various sites open to them, with different benefits.

The main thrust of the Plan Teignbridge discussions was a site on one side or the other of the A379. This would have required some form of junction, whether a roundabout or signaled, which would have had the effect of slowing down the traffic along this key corridor. One of the drawbacks of this scheme was that discussions suggested that the P&R bus would also serve the new developments – not really satisfactory for either new residents or commuters.

My preferred option would be to place the P&R scheme further out on the site of Frank Tucker Commerical at Peamore. This would intercept traffic from A38 at a much early stage – and require a dedicated P&R bus.

When TDC adopted their Local Plan [Plan Teignbridge] in May 2013 it was with a commitment to a “1000 space park and ride hub” as part of the public transport and highways improvements needed to facilitate sustainable “delivery of at least 2000 homes with a target of 25% affordable homes” in the SW Exeter Urban Extension [Policy SWE1 on p 111]

It goes on to say
10.10 A key part of this public transport network is the provision of a replacement park and ride facility within the new development. Ideally located to the south of the A379 at the intersection of the A30 and A379, it will serve existing commuters and help change the nature of the A379 and reduce traffic to Chudleigh Road.

As it turned out, DCC allowed TDC to remove the requirement for a P&R site within the TDC boundaries – a decision that was made easier for them with s106 developer contributions towards the Aphington P&R scheme near the Ide Interchange.

For some reason DCC allowed TDC to change this commitment to a P&R within their own boundaries when the SW Exeter Development Framework Plan at TDC’s Planning Committee of 29/06/14.

This seems to be accompanied by a developer contribution of s106 planning consideration to help fund the Alphington Park & Ride scheme.

In the summer of 2014 I attended a DCC workshop with other local councillors (ECC and DCC), ECC portfolio holders, DCC cabinet members, senior officers from both authorities, and other key stakeholders, partners and agencies. This was chaired by Paul Nero of Radio Exe and seemed to be an interesting and new way to move forward. We discussed the various ways DCC could look at reducing traffic congestion along the Alphington Road corridor, but most of it centred around a new plan for Alphington P&R.

I was keen to roll out the workshop idea (again chaired by Paul Nero) to discuss options with local residents and other stakeholders ahead of any new planning application

It seems that DCC were in the process of doing just this (whether Paul Nero would have led the Jacobs workshop), when there was a dramatic turn of events.

In all the above, I had assumed that Mrs Newberry, the owner of Oakland Riding Stables at Ide Interchange, was prepared to sell the land to DCC

It seems that the only way that DCC could obtain the Oaklands Riding Stables is by issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order. Whilst this might not a game-changer, it means that many of the horse-riding fraternity are now, also, against the Aphington P&R scheme.

In the light of the latest outcry, DCC have announced that they were
“postponing the workshop in order to gather additional information on other, alternative sites in the vicinity of the interchange.”

So there ARE alternative sites, sites for at least 4 years are NOT viable. Where are they?

Q2 What is your position whether a Park & Ride scheme should be built on the Oaklands Riding School fields.

I am not against P&R schemes per se

Indeed, I support the aspirations set out in Exeter City Council Core Strategy (adopted February 2012) that were to build on measures set out in Devon County Council Local Transport Plan 2006-20111 [LTP2].

8.4…the measures indentified include:
Provision of additional Park & Ride sites around the city, including:
– a new site at Ide Interchange to serve the A30 to the west;
– …;
– investigation of a possible site within the proposed urban extension to the south west, outside the city boundary in Teignbridge, to serve the A379 to the south; and
– …

That said, I will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oakfields Riding School at any cost. DCC will have to convince me that a P&R scheme on this site is better than one located elsewhere, and if located here will work to reduce traffic congestion along the Alphington Road corridor.

In 2011 I was against the proposal for a 800+ space P&R site as I did not think then that the scheme was big enough to tackle the traffic congestion along the Alphington Road corridor.

The new plans seem to be suggesting a smaller scheme – with around 600 spaces provided.

There are other options (and now it seems sites) to be explored.

These options could include:
– Remote park and ride schemes further out from Exeter, with the added advantage of preserving and enhancing rural bus services. Could a site at or near Tedburn St Mary bring a P&R service into Exeter via B3212 Dunsford Road, in the same way as a site near the new Tescos in Crediton might relieve pressure form the north
– Are there suitable options for DCC to develop “Park & Change” sites in SW Exeter in the same way they are planning elsewhere around the city?
– Is it possible to develop a network of “Link & Ride” sites around the county?

Q3 Do you agree that current Cycling Strategy for Exeter is wholly inadequate as regards Alphington, St Thomas and Marsh Barton?

It is worth stating (especially since DCC itself seems to forget it) the Devon County Council transport hierarchy

It was first outlined in Chapter 7- Devon Strategies in Devon Local Transport Plan 2001 – 2006 [LTP1]:
The Current Position
• Devon Structure Plan First Review policies require developers to have regard to the hierarchy of:
1 Walking
2 Cycling
3 Public Transport
4 Private Vehicles

This hierarchy is re-iterated in Chapter 2 – The Transport Strategy for Devon in Devon Local Transport Plan 2006 – 2011 [LTP2]:
4.Promoting Sustainable Modes of Travel (derived from Structure Plan Policy TR5)
In co-ordinating land use and transportation planning and the management of traffic demand all development should make provision for and promote the safe useof the most sustainable and environmentally acceptable modes of travel, having regard to the following hierarchy:
– Walking
– Cycling
– Public Transport
– Private Vehicles

The trouble is this clear statement of transport hierarchy is missing (or if it there, well buried within) the Devon Local Transport Plan 2011 – 2026 [LTP3]!

Back in February 2011, DCC published Exeter Cycle Strategy – Supporting LDF Evidence Report.

This document has the stated vision of working towards achieving:
Cycling is fully integrated into the fabric of the city and seen as the first choice mode for a large proportion of everyday and leisure journeys.”

According to Rush Hour,  a report by Trevor Preist for Exeter Civic Society for Transition Exeter, already some 30% of journeys to work in Exeter are by cycle or work, but currently the walking to cycling ratio is 3:1.

The strategy has a challenging target of raising this to 20% of journeys to work by bicycle alone.

To do this the strategy sets out to encourage more people to cycle, using a comprehensive, joined-up cycle network , and states that it is important that the new cycle network extends to the major urban extensions of the city, including SW Exeter.

The report goes on to highlight 8 primary routes, but not one of them is based around SW Exeter and the city centre. In fact, it seems it’s more important for residents of Exminster to use primary route 2 to get to Pinhoe than for residents of Alphington and the new developments of SW Exeter urban extension to get Marsh Barton and the city centre.

The above report has recently been superseded by the Cycling And Multi-Use Trail Network Strategy, which was agreed by DCC Cabinet on 08/04/15, at the same as it also agreed a Transport Infrastructure Plan.

To me, it is a shame that these 2 documents weren’t combined into one overarching strategy reflecting the transport hierarchy!

The Cycling And Multi-Use Trail Network Strategy has a section entitled The Exeter Cycle Network where the stated aim is:
Aim 1: Showcase Exeter, Newton Abbot and Barnstaple as premier cycling towns
to provide a healthy, more efficient alternative to travelling by car for a proportion of journeys – cyclists will be able to avoid congestion and benefit from a traffic-free cycle routes in the urban centres.

Yet, this new strategy downgrades the earlier aspiration of 20% cycling to work to
“12% of employees cycling to work” (one of the achievements of Exeter Cycling Demonstration Town is that currently 6% cycle to work).

The new paper does now provide for a new primary route E8 which would link SW Exeter to the main riverside route but avoids much of the Marsh Barton industrial estate and still misses out all of St Thomas, Cowick and Exwick.

The aspiration is good but can any of this be delivered in times of financial constraint?

The strategy itself acknowledges that the level of flexible funding paid direct to local authorities through the Local Transport Plan Integrated Block Budget has beencut by almost 50% from 2015-16 to help the new Growth Deals.

These Growth Deals are delivered through bids submitted by Heart of the SW Local Transport Board [HotSWLTB], an independent body sitting under the umbrella of the Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Board [HotSWLEP].

My fear about this process is that smaller scale bids might be overlooked in favour of big budget major road infrastructure projects. Perhaps there is a case for lobbying central government to assign an equivalent of s106 monies to these major road infrastructure projects – planning considerations that have to be spent on cycling initiatives!

Indeed a look at the key documents on schemes being considered by HotSWLTB shows that this seems to be the case.

Although HotSWLTB are responding to local policy initiatives and strategies it is NOT in itself democratically accountable.

And as I hear DCC Highways Officers talk about major transport funding initiatives they always seem to place them with the LEP rather than the independent Local Transport Board.

A recent meeting of HotSWLTB (on 09/04/15) approved a paper on LTB/LEP Joint Working. The paper concludes:
There is no proposal at this stage to develop a formal partnership document between the LEP and LTB over and above that contained in the LEP Assurance Framework

The same meeting also considered a paper on Final Business Case Approval which outlines the requirements which need to be met, following the initial consideration of a scheme business case by the Board, before Final Approval can be granted.

So each and every time DCC Officer says it is the HotSWLEP that is responsible for the bidding for major transport infrastructure, I will continue to correct them!

If we can’t be transparent about this fact, what else are this mis-understanding?

#CWEST |Transport issues in #SWExeter [short]

CWEST – the Campaign for South West Exeter Smarter Travel with the strapline “A fresh approach to keep SW Exeter moving” – have contacted me for my views on a series of transport-related issues.

Here in brief are my answers:

Q1 Do you agree that there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter?

Quite simply, YES I agree that there should be a full and open review of the current proposals for SW Exeter.

Over the past 4 years, I have been aware of many documents, plans and strategies that sought the traffic congestion across the city, and  in the area of the SW Exeter urban extension.

I have held in high regard the transport hierarchy of Devon County Council which I first saw outlined in the Local Transport Plan 2006-11 [LTP2]:
In co-ordinating land use and transportation planning and the management of traffic demand, all development should make provision for and promote the safe use of the most sustainable and environmentally acceptable modes of travel, having regard to the following hierarchy:
– Walking
– Cycling
– Public Transport
– Private Vehicles

However, the more I follow what DCC plan from road infrastructure, the more I question the fact that DCC want to uphold the principles of this transport hierarchy.

But there may be some difficulties with that hope.

DCC are is no longer responsible for bidding for major infrastructure funds – that task now falls to the Heart of the South West Local Transport Board [HofSWLTB], an independent body  that works closely with the Heart of the South Local Enterprise Partnership [HofSWLEP] and Local Authorities to secure funding for transport schemes across the HotSW area.

So major transport infrastructure falls under a less than totally democratically accountable body!

Q2 What is your position whether a Park & Ride scheme should be built on the Oaklands Riding School fields.

I am not against P&R schemes per se, but I cannot and will not support a new P&R scheme on the site of Oakfields Riding School unconditionally, so DCC would have to make a very strong case to convince me that Oaklands is the only suitable site.

DCC will have to convince me that a P&R scheme on this site is better than one located elsewhere, and if located here will work to reduce traffic congestion along the Alphington Road corridor.

There are other options to P&R, such as the “Park & Change” model that DCC is looking to introduce at other sites around the outskirts of the city.

They may be other sites available for P&R more remote from the edge of Exeter – these could help preserve a rural bus service to communities threatened with reduction and withdrawal of the current bus service.

And it now seems that, at long, last DCC has accepted that there may be other sites that could be explored.

Q3 Do you agree that current Cycling Strategy for Exeter is wholly inadequate as regards Alphington, St Thomas and Marsh Barton

One of the successes of Exeter as a Cycling Demonstration Town was that 6% of travel to work was by cycling.

The 2011 Exeter Cycling Strategy sought to improve this to 20% by 2021.

I am disappointed that the new DCC Cycling and Multi-Use Trail Strategy approved at Cabinet on 08/04/15 has downgraded this aspiration  to be 12% by 2021.

I am worried that now strategic funding for major transport infrastructure has moved from DCC to the Heart of the South West Local Transport Board, decisions on such matters will be less democratically accountable.

So there ARE alternative sites in #SWExeter for a Park & Ride

Four years ago, when I first stood as a candidate for Cowick, the hot topic was a planning application for a 850 space Park & Ride scheme at the Ide Interchange. And hiding in the background during this campaign is a new planning application for the Alphington Park & Ride expected in the coming months.

In 2011, DCC plumped for Oaklands Riding School at the junction of A30 and A377 as the preferred site>

For Devon County Council’s Planning Application DCC/2899/2009 in 2009, Parsons Brinckerhoff carried out a series of reports , including Alphington Park & Ride Environmental Statement: Section2 – Need for the scheme. This report identified 15 different sites for the proposed Scheme.

However, DCC’s public transport experience indicates that for a park and ride site to be commercially viable it must have a minimum capacity of 750 spaces and this was therefore a requirement. Based on this assumption eight of the possible sites were immediately discounted as their capacity did not reach this benchmark and the remaining 7 were taken forward for appraisal.

The appraisal process established that the preferred location of proposed Scheme would be Site C at the Alphington Junction.

As it happened. DCC’s Development Control Committee of 14/10/09 refused permission.

A new application, DCC/3161/2010came forward in 2010  and this too identified several sites as shown on this plan and detailed in this  alternative sites matrix.

As part of the process, Exeter City Council is asked to comment on the proposal as a consultee. This was lodged with ECC as 11/0050/26.

ECC Planning Committee of 21/02/11 resolved that the Planning Committee does not support a Park and Ride site at land adjacent A30/A377 Junction, Alphington Road, Exeter for the following reasons:-
1) that proposal would have a detrimental impact on the Alphinbrook Conservation Area;
2) the application does not provide an adequate examination of alternative sites; and
3) the proposal will not significantly impact upon traffic congestion within the city due to insufficient capacity along the Alphington Road corridor.

As a consequence his application was withdrawn before coming before a DCC Development Mangement Committee.

Around this time time DCC published the Alphington Interchange Park and Ride Transport Report [March 2011t] as part their submission to Exeter Local Development Framework. This highlighted 3 possible locations, but still identified Oaklands Riding Stables as the preferred site.

At the time I was intrigued to see if DCC ever explored the cost of developing any of the alternative sites – a FoI request of mine (Information Request 001147) shows they did not!

Last summer, DCC organised a summit of key stakeholders hosted by Radio Exe’s Paul Nero, which I attended with Cllr Margaret Clark [ECC,  Alphington] and Cllr Roy Hill [DCC, Alphington/Cowick] as well as ECC Portfolio Holders Rachel Sutton and Rosie Denham.  Ross  Hussey, looks after sustainable transport matters for ECC , was also in attendance.

I was clear that I wanted an open and transparent consultation process as and when a new application for a SW Exeter Park  Ride scheme came forward. And I added that it would be good to see options for modal shift other than P&R to be brought forward.

I reminded DCC of this at a meeting of Exeter HATOC on Tuesday

And that’s how it’s stood until yesterday…

A flurry of activity on Facebook yesterday led to the setting up of a private Save Our Stables – Say NO to Alphington Park & Ride group.

This is interesting enough in itself as I don’t remember any  such opposition when I first started giving involved with all this over 4 years ago.

I suppose back then I assumed that Mrs Newberry, owner of Oaklands Riding Stables, was keen to sell the parcel of land to DCC – it seems things might have changed

The new outrage seems to stem from some talk of a Compulsory Purchase Order being put on the Oaklands Riding Stables field.

I had missed that paragraph in the section on Key Uncertainties of Heart Of SW LTB Scheme Prioritisation Proforma for the Alphington P&R scheme.
Initial land negotiations were started with the land owner’s agents who seemed keen to talk however it is still possible that CPO will still be required.

To get to the bottom of the matter, the Cowick Labour Cllrs managed to get the following statement from Devon County Council:

I can report that we were intending to host a workshop involving a select group of people representing the local community, educational establishments, environmental groups, transport groups, commuters and the business community. It also included the landowners (Mrs Newberry) who have raised concerns about the proposals, particularly in relation to the impacts on their business.

My view is that this shouldn’t be a surprise to the Newberrys’ as it has been included in Exeter City Council’s emerging Site Allocations and Development Management DPD and the site has been known about for several years. I have had several conversations with an agent working on behalf of the Newberry Trust who has always been supportive of the Park and Ride proposals and this reaction is surprising – I am looking to arrange a meeting with the relevant landowners to better understand their position.
To be clear on the process and what we were intending to achieve, this is the 1 st stage of the planning process – the workshop was an opportunity for representatives from a range of interest groups to share their views and understand more about the scheme (including justification for P&R and why in this location). The intention was to keep the workshop to a small number of people in order for it to be a productive session but nevertheless representative of the key stakeholder – as discussed, we involved representatives from the Alphington Village Forum and CWEST, as well as environmental groups and cycle groups. Whatever came out of the workshop, would be used to further develop the proposals. This would then be subject to a wider public consultation as part of the formal planning process.
Today Jacobs have been notifying people that we are postponing the workshop in order to gather additional information on other, alternative sites in the vicinity of the interchange. There are no timescales for when we might look to arrange a future date for the workshop.
As I have said there are other better sites for a P&R schemes than the one proposed for Oaklands,  and being told categorically that there were no other suitable sites nearby, I was most intrigued by the phrase

“we are postponing the workshop in order to gather additional information on other, alternative sites in the vicinity of the interchange”.

This is all getting rather interesting!

Further reading:
Parsons Brinckerhoff for DCC Alphington Park & Ride Transport Assessment  Report Number: HPE98116A/02 [ August 2009]
Parsons Brinckerhoff for DCC Alphington Park & Ride Transport Assessment  Report Number: Appendices 1 – 4  [ August 2009]