Public consultation event on proposed new site for SW Exeter Park & Ride

For many years, Devon County Council has maintained that the only possible site for a Park & Ride scheme to serve the west of Exeter. So much so, DCC have already tried – unsuccessfully – to give permission to 2 planning applications on the site of Oaklands Riding Stables (owned by the Newberry family)

Trying for third time lucky, DCC were in the process of submitting an application earlier this year – so confident were they, that a workshop for key stakeholders was arranged and advertised. This was cancelled at a week’s notice.

Thanks to the hard work of Juliet Meadowcroft, Chair of Alphington Village Forum, a new site – the Round Field also owned by the Newberrys – was considered as a suitable alternative to theOakdlnds fields.

This new site is adjacent to the A30/A377 interchange (between the westbound A30 slip road and the road that leads out towards Ide).

On 21 July 2015, DCC launched a public consultation and this was accompanied with an event at West Exe School.

ALPHINGTON P&R: Introduction
ALPHINGTON P&R: Introduction

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ALPHINGTON P&R: 1 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Why is the site needed – 1 (of 3)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: Why is the site needed - 2 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Why is the site needed – 2 (of 3)

This graphic is interesting!

It shows the traffic flow along Alphington Road. I can quote it like a mantra ” 1000 cars an hour in both directions between 7am and 7pm”. I’ve known and loved this factoid since I started to take an interest in the siting of a Park & Ride.

But since then, DCC have carried out improvements alterations along Alphington Road and constructed the Grace Road Link into Marsh Barton, so I’m surprised that the graph doesn’t reference when the data they used was taken.

Is this previous data presented again? Or has there been a new survey since the failure of the 2011 planning application?

No-one at the event could provide an answer.

But even more curious is the pie-chart (apart from the use of percentages rather than actual numbers) – and the idea that 60% of the traffic using the Alphington Road corridor originates to the EAST of the city.

If this the case, why is the new Park & Ride scheme being developed to the WEST?

Once again, the pie-chart bears no clue as to when the survey was carried out. Could it be that the survey contributing to this graphic was taken during 2014 when Junction 29 was being remodelled?

ALPHINGTON P&R: Why is the site needed - 3 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Why is the site needed – 3 (of 3)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 1 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 1 (of 3)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 2 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 2 (of 3)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 3 (of 3)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Where should it be sited?- 3 (of 3)

ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 1 (of 2)ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 1 (of 2)ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 1 (of 2)

ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 1 (of 2)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 1 (of 2)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 2 (of 2)
ALPHINGTON P&R: Preferred option- 2 (of 2)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? - 1 (of 4)
ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? – 1 (of 4)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? - 2 (of 4)
ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? – 2 (of 4)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? - 3 (of 4)
ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? – 3 (of 4)

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ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? - 4 (of 4)
ALPHINGTON P&R: What will it look like? – 4 (of 4)

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Public consultation events on new proposals for #SWExeter P&R

Screen shot 2015-07-11 at 10.06.46

Devon County Council and Jacobs are jointly hosting two consultation events on proposals for a Park and Ride site on the South West outskirts of Exeter that will serve the Alphington Road corridor.

Devon County Council has been developing plans for a new preferred site near the A30 interchange junction, between the westbound slip road and the road that leads out towards Ide.

The consultation events will be held at
– West Exe School on Tuesday 21 July, from 4pm to 8pm, and
– Ide Village Hall on Thursday 23 July, from 4pm to 8pm.

County Council officers and Jacobs staff will be present at both events and be on hand to answer any questions.

Alternatively, if you are unable to make either of the two events then the consultation material will be available online at http://new.devon.gov.uk/haveyoursay for three weeks from Tuesday 21 July. The closing date is Monday 17 August.

There is a detailed media release on the Devon News Centre site – Consultation on Park and Ride proposals – which contains quotes from Councillor Andrew Leadbetter [CON, Topsham/St Loyes], Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growthm and Cllr Councillor Alan Connett [LD, Exminster/Kenton] 

 

Screen shot 2015-07-11 at 10.06.45

#SWExeter | Alphington holds public meeting to display plans for new homes

Alphington holds public meeting to display plans for new homes

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The outline plans for the 350 new houses to be built in Alphington village have at last been submitted to Exeter City Council by NPS South West, the Devon County Council agent for the landowners, who are Devon County Council, St Bridget’s Nursery and Loram Trustees.

“The Alphington Village Forum committee inspected these plans at our meeting on Monday and were not impressed, as they show so little detail of interest to local residents”, said Chairman Juliet Meadowcroft.

“Despite that, we are keen to display them at a public meeting, as our Forum members have been waiting a long time for them. We are therefore holding an Open Meeting in the village hall on Friday, 17 July, between 3pm and 8pm, in order to display both the Exeter City Council plans and the Teignbridge District Council ones already submitted by the developers, Bovis and Westcountry Land.”

“These three lots of outline plans are for approx 1,350 new houses that will completely cover the lovely arable fields between Alphington and the A379, but without any new infrastructure or facilities of any kind. The occupants of these homes, including approx 350 primary schoolchildren, will have to walk some distance and across a new bridge over the four-lane A379 in order to get to the planned local centre, comprising the school, surgery, sports centre and shops. In bad weather, we are sure they will go by car and block up theroads even more than they are at present and the A379 will become a bottle neck.”

Apart from reports on various topics such as ecology, archaeology, landscape, flooding etc, the item of main interest in the Alphington plans are the roads traversing the two developments each side of Chudleigh Road, called Aldens Farm East and Aldens Farm West.

They both have access onto Chudleigh Road, the one on the east side joining up with the old Dawlish Road and the one on the west side with Shillingford Road. The more detailed plans showing exactly where the houses are going to be built, the size, design and the density will only be available once the developers have bought the land from Devon County Council and the other two much smaller landowners.

Forum committee members will be in attendance at the public meeting to help you with any queries and encourage you to send your comments to Paul Jeffery at Exeter City Council, where the plans are also onview.

For further details, please see www.alphingtonforum.co.uk

For reference, the application numbers are:

15/0640/01 – Alden Farm East, Land between Chudleigh Road and Dawlish Rd

15/0641/01 – Alden Farm West, Land between Shillingford Road and Chudleigh Road.

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?