Meeting with Head of Highway Management

We met with the Head of Highway Management from Devon County Council along with a number of councillors on 5th April to discuss progress towards establishing a safe and accessible route.  DCC had provided us with a feasibility study of 5 possible route options in advance of the meeting, which you can read by clicking the following link:

Proposed Cycle Route Feasibility Study & Maps to accompany report

The only serious options arising from this feasibility study appeared to be either our proposed route requiring the permission of South Devon Railway to share their footbridge (option 3), or a route crossing the River Dart over a hypothetical new bridge and running through the Dartington estate (options 4).  Option 4 and would make a delightful route, but would cost much more than option 3 (an extra £1m approx).  Our big concern about any decision to select option 4 would be that the high price would cause the project to be deferred indefinitely.

  • Option 1 – Bridgetown hill and Bourton Lane:  There seemed to be a general acceptance that this wasn’t a serious option for safe cycle route accessible to all.
  • Option 2a/b – A381 roadside and new offroad rural path:  Given that part of this route would run along verge of the A381 and thus be unsuitable for children, this route doesn’t appear to be a serious option.
  • Option 3 –  Our favoured route:  SDR management remain extremely concerned about potential vandalism to their station at Totnes.  DCC have been unable to allay these concerns so far.
  • Options 4/4a/4b – Various routes involved construction of a new bridge over the River Dart.  These routes would be attractive for recreational use, albeit with the downside of a very steep climb on the east side of the Dart.  But the main issue is a price tag £1m+ higher than option 3.  We think it unlikely this could be afforded in the foreseeable future.
  • Option 4c – As above but climbs up to run through Dartington estate rather than follow the river bank.  Far too much climb for a family recreational route.
  • Option 5 – via Huxhams Cross and Staverton Bridge:  This option runs along existing lanes and is available for use now.  The reason it isn’t used is because it represents a sizeable detour, and involves significantly more climb than option 3.  It also runs along the busy and fast main route from Staverton up to Huxham’s Cross, and would require cyclists to navigate the single lane, low walled Staverton bridge – which is increasingly congested at peak times.

DCC went on to meet with the management of South Devon Railway, Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and South West Water the following week.  We understand from DCC that the meeting was constructive, and we are grateful to these organisations for devoting time to this project.  DCC relayed our suggestions on mitigating security concerns – but we understand that SDR and Rare Breeds management remain extremely worried about the security of their premises.

Although this is disappointing, the good news is that DCC have decided to allocate to one of their design engineers the task of conducting a more detailed and thorough appraisal of each route.  This will involve discussions with land owners and local councils, and will include examination of how to mitigate site security risks – fingers crossed that this professional engineering input will deliver new solutions that will be acceptable to SDR.

Next Steps

  1. As part of their detailed analysis, we expect DCC to consult with Littlehempston and Staverton parish councils, and Totnes town council.  If you live in any of these areas, please write and make your views clear.  If you know anyone who sits on a local council, please bring this issue to their attention.
  2. We are planning a cycle and walking demonstration in favour of the new cycle path – provisionally booked for 14th July 2012.  This will be a repeat of a similar outing in June 2010 but on a larger scale.  We will invite cyclists and walkers to gather in Littlehempston (probably at the Pig and Whistle pub on the A381) and join us on a demonstration ride/walk into Totnes and back, with a police escort.  More details to follow…
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