Call for complete review of SW Exeter transport policies

In May, Devon CC withdrew their application for a park and ride site on the edge of Ide, due to the numerous flaws and gaps in their evidence base, and the lack of clarity as to what the park and ride would actually achieve. This has not in any way dented their, nor Exeter or Teignbridge councils enthusiasm to put in a revised application, probably in the autumn.

CWEST, along with Exeter Civic Society, Teignbridge Council for the Protection of Rural England, Save Ide Gap and Alphington Village Forum, have therefore written to Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge Councils, calling for a full and open review of current transport policies for SW Exeter, saying that they are wholly inadequate and that a fresh approach is needed.  We have been promised a reply by early August.

Ide Park & Ride – application delayed

Devon County Council’s planners have asked for a substantial and significant amount of further information to support the application for a park and ride scheme between Ide  & Exeter.  The queries include more specific information on  dormice,  flood , lighting and local road impacts, as well as requiring clearer and consistent information on the actual objectives / how many car journeys it is claimed will be removed (temporarily) from the Alphington Road.  This further information has to be supplied by September 7th, and a further round of consultation is likely to be required, meaning that the application won’t be considered until late autumn at the earliest.

The planners’ response underlines the very poor quality of work that underpinned the application documents, with numerous inconsistencies, gaps and a gaping hole where there should be clarity on what the scheme is actually going to achieve.

CWEST is now going to work with others to try and secure a root and branch, transparent review of transport policy and plans for SW Exeter. Watch this space…..Read more here

Still time to make your Ide park & ride consultation responses

Despite DCC’s website still saying today is the last day for making comments on the application to build a 550 place park and ride on the edge of Exeter and Ide, the council has said in emails, that it will accept responses up to the end of May. CWEST has written to DCC urging them to change the website information, so everyone understands that they still have time to make their comments.

Residents in Ide have been objecting strongly to the proposal, citing further congestion and tailbacks on the A30 and on the Ide slip road, air pollution concerns, attracting rat run motorists who will use the space as a free car park, and of course the fact that the site is home to a good population of dormice and slow worms.  Many have also said that they feel £6million could be far better spent on improving walking, cycling and public transport measures – exactly what CWEST has been saying for the past 2 years.

The proposed scheme will do nothing for Alphington, St Thomas and Cowick, as there is no attempt to even promise less congestion or improved travel times on the Alphington Road, and research on park and rides shows clearly that it increases congestion in its immediate vicinity ie up to and including Alphington Cross. Residents living on the edges of Alphington and Cowick will certainly see the high level lighting of the scheme, and of the new roundabout.

CWEST is continuing to collect information about the reality of how park and ride is operating now – which is a long way from how it is presented by DCC, and about the evidence underpinning the claims made about benefits. We are also talking to others about pushing for a completely different approach to improving travel in this SW side of Exeter -watch this space…

And don’t forget, if you have views about this park and ride, do make your comments at https://new.devon.gov.uk/planning/    Application DCC/3846/2016.

 

 

Devon’s case for new park & ride is completely threadbare

Devon County Council are proposing to spend £6 million and concrete over fields between Exeter and Ide, currently home to dormice and slow worms, and have 24 hour high level lighting to boot. Why are they doing this? It all boils down to this : We anticipate the scheme will remove approximately 10% of the inbound morning peak traffic that currently passes in on Alphington Street”; (email from Councillor Leadbetter, DCC to Ide resident). 

This is the thinnest of possible arguments for such a damaging and expensive development. First, it is at best an hopeful guess that as many as 10% of current drivers entering Exeter the A30 interchange, will want to use the park and ride. But even more importantly, it is an accepted truth across the developed world, that removing cars from a road is the shortest of temporary fixes, because car drivers notice that the road is quieter and switch to using it again. As just one example, after spending millions on making the M25 wider, with better junctions, the government’s own evaluation study has found that traffic levels are higher and journey times slower than before the ‘improvements’ were done!

The consultation is now open at https://planning.devon.gov.uk/PlanDisp.aspx?AppNo=DCC/3846/2016. Please spend a few moments making your views known.

 

 

 

 

Planning application live and just 3 weeks consultation period

The plans for a 600 space car park on the rural edge of Exeter were lodged today at https://planning.devon.gov.uk/PlanDisp.aspx?AppNo=DCC/3846/2016. There are 3 weeks to comment, but CWEST has asked for an extension to give local people a chance to get to grips with the huge array of documents and drawings. If you think that spending £6 million on something that will nothing to relieve congestion, nor improve air quality and which will urbanise this attractive side of Exeter forever, then please make your comments using the link above.

 

 

Planning application for Ide park and ride due any day

Ide park and ride application imminent

In January of this year, Devon County Council announced that their planning application to build a huge park and ride (or ‘car park’) on the outskirts of Exeter was imminent. A month on and at the time of writing, nothing has yet been submitted, but we can only presume that the application will go in any day now. For those interested, keep checking this website to see if the application has been lodged. https://new.devon.gov.uk/planning/ The planning team have already stated that no Environmental Impact Assessment will be required – not reassuring for those who believe this is a planning mistake which will not achieve any significant positive impacts, and will definitely detract from the currently attractive and rural approach to Exeter on this side of the city. No thanks to park and ride But beyond the question of local impacts, CWEST believes that this park and ride is as big a white elephant as the one proposed for the Oaklands Riding stable fields and we are continuing our campaign to extract information about the realities and facts behind this plan to spend £6 million of public money. A number of residents in Ide are also very unhappy about the proposal, arguing that a permanently lit large car park will spell the end of the gap between Ide and Exeter, allowing creeping but inevitable urbanisation. If you live in Ide, note that there is to be a Parish Meeting, (and therefore only for residents of Ide as it is part of a legal process preceding a village poll/ referendum), on Wednesday March 9th, in the Memorial Hall. Also see twitter #saveidegap to follow this campaign What’s it for?! CWEST is waiting (and has already been waiting for some time)  for DCC to reply to our key questions:

1.      What specific results ie in terms of transport improvements /impacts, are expected to be delivered by this park and ride? To date, DCC has only provided the vaguest of answers.  And don’t forget, they have had to abandon their previous answers – improved air quality and reduced congestion – as their own figures showed these wouldn’t be achieved. We say that to spend £6 million of public money, the public need to know why that money is being spent.

2.      What other options, if any, have been considered to achieve those results? In other words, where is the evidence that a park and ride site is the most efficient and effective way to secure whatever results it is supposed to achieve? We have not yet seen any evidence of work done to consider any alternative approach.

3.      If, as DCC say, the car park can be used by people who just want to walk or cycle onwards, doesn’t that make it at least partly a new car park being built on the edge of the city?  Of course, DCC would never secure either the planning permission nor the money to build a car park – but if only part of the area is to be used by those who park and use the bus, the rest of the area is in fact a massively subsidised free car park on the outskirts of Exeter!  

A better way? CWEST was set up to campaign for a ‘smarter way’ to improve existing and future travel in SW Exeter. See our website swexetertravel.org. for more on alternatives to an expensive park and ride – a 20th, not a 21st century solution that will not contribute to truly sustainable travel. In particular, we think that paying attention to changing travel into and around Marsh Barton could achieve far more. However, to make comparisons, we need to know what DCC claim the park and ride will actually achieve…. If you agree, please tell others about this and encourage them to sign up for the CWEST newsletter via our website. We will alert people once the planning application is live, but in the meantime, spread the word :)

Consultation events for Ide/Alphington park and ride scheme

Devon County Council are holding two public consultation events, on July 21st & 23rd, (details below in blue). This consultation relates to a ‘planning pre-application‘ – that is,  the Council’s first approach to it’s own planning department with outline ideas on the park and ride scheme, before it puts in the formal planning application before the end of this year. The public have been given less than two weeks notice about these events, despite DCC already deciding they were to be held by mid-June, so please spread the word. Still, better late than never – do go along or input your views online.

Here’s the official information:

“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 at 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.

 We look forward to seeing you at one of our events and receiving your feedback.

 Kind regards,

Rory Millar

Graduate Trainee Transportation Planner

Planning Transportation & Environment

Devon County Council

Tel: 01392 382681″

Fresh ideas for SW Exeter transport

Following Devon and Teignbridge’s request for CWEST to submit suggestions for changes to the proposed package of transport solutions for SW Exeter, we have just submitted a letter with some suggestions. Highlights include:

  • improving walking and cycling into and around Marsh Barton, and a shuttle bus service for the estate
  • a new, high profile pedestrian and cycle bridge route into the river valley park, alongside the current unsafe, narrow railway bridge by the incinerator.
  • lots of small, cheap changes such as improved signing, more dual use pavements etc
  • asking whether £6 million pounds for a park and ride would be better spent on walking, cycling and bus provision

There is no planned provision for any further public engagement on any of this, but we are hopeful that as with our opposition to the park and ride being built on the Oaklands fields, some common sense will prevail and a dialogue might continue on these really important issues.

Alphinbrook Valley Park fields saved!

After more than  six years of local campaigning to save the Oaklands Riding School fields and a unique ‘gateway’ into Exeter from being concreted over,Devon County Council have officially announced that they are now considering another site. This is fantastic news and shows that local people can make a difference, particularly when they have a handful of councillors who are prepared to listen to their concerns.

This means that one of CWEST’s main aims as a campaign group – to prevent a park and ride being built on that site, has been achieved. However, our work has uncovered many questions and doubts about the benefits of a £6 million park and ride scheme, so we will continue to press for clear evidence and rationale for the scheme, now proposed for the Ide side of the A30 roundabout. We will also continue to work for another main goal – improving cycling and walking facilities for SW Exeter.

CWEST will continue to press for answers

CWEST have responded to Devon and Exeter Council’s refusal to review the transport proposals for SW Exeter with disappointment. We will now continue to ask questions that have to be asked – what do they think the park and ride on the Oaklands Riding school fields will actually achieve? Where is the evidence for that? Where is the proof that this is the best site for a park and ride? Is this really the most effective way to spend £6 million?  Why is there no real provision for walkers and cyclists who want to get into and out of Marsh Barton, and into and out of the city centre and St Leonard’ area (RD &E hospital etc)? As ever, watch this space where we hope that answers will be forthcoming. We have asked for the latest news on when the planning application for the park and ride will be submitted, but haven’t yet had an answer….

To read the full reply from CWEST, click here

STOP PRESS. Since posting this, DCC have replied to our enquiry on the planning timetable for the park and ride and on the question of whether other sites are still  being considered or not. So it seems a great deal is still in hanging in the air….

It is fair to say that we are collecting further information about alternative sites so Oaklands is not the only site currently under consideration – we need to be confident that we have thoroughly investigated the potential for a P&R site on all locations within the vicinity of the A30/A377 junction, taking into account cost, engineering deliverability, environmental, social and land constraints. We have no Development Management Committee meeting in mind. We have not submitted pre-application papers yet.

Devon & Exeter City Council – disappointing replies

CWEST has finally received a reply from Devon and Exeter councils to our ‘open letter’ – Teignbridge have yet to reply.  The response is disappointing, with the main points being:

  • confirmation that planning permission for the park and ride at Alphington will be sought during this year
  • refusal to undertake a review of current proposals for transport in SW Exeter
  • no offer of any quality dialogue or discussion with CWEST or other local groups – but tokenistic offers of attending a forum once a year (see below)
  • on a positive note, news that Devon and Exeter want to set up a Transport Strategy Working Group, including First Great Western and Stagecoach. If approved, local people and groups would be invited to attend an ‘open forum’ once a year. The city and county councils wrongly hope that this will provide an appropriate way to engage with groups like CWEST!

CWEST is now talking to people to prepare a response. You can see the county and city council’s full response here (city) and here (county).

Local democracy in action??

See our new page on the Exeter City Council election – what do prospective councillors for the wards of Alphington, Cowick and St Thomas have to say about the Alphington park and ride and about CWEST’s call for a full review of current transport proposals?

Also, over a month since receiving CWEST’s open letter asking for a review of transport proposals for SW Exeter, Devon County Council have not even acknowledged receipt of the letter, unlike Exeter and Teignbridge Councils, which are working on their replies. Not a great advert for local democracy in the run up to election time….

Late news: today, May 1st, Devon County responded to our 3rd request for information, saying that they will reply to CWEST’s open letter questions by May 12th

Silence from majority of west of Exeter prospective councillors

2 weeks ago, CWEST asked all of the city council prospective councillors for Alphington, Cowick & St Thomas to state their views on the proposed park and ride being built in the Alphington Valley Park and on whether a full and open review of current transport proposals for the SW of the city was needed. Only 1 Labour candidate and all of the Green Party candidates have found the time to respond so far. In similar undemocratic vein,  Devon County Council have yet to even acknowledge receipt of CWEST’s open letter -sent a month ago – asking for a full review of the transport proposals for the SW of the city. Please ask prospective candidates for these western wards what their views are on the park and ride at Alphington and on the current lack of quality walking and cycling provision in and around Alphington and Marsh Barton. Let’s make democracy mean something in these local elections.

CWEST sends open letter to councils, asking for review

CWEST has  sent an open letter to Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge councils, making the case for a review of current transport proposals for SW Exeter and also asking for a ’roundtable’ style meeting to explore different options in a constructive way. See the letter here and of course watch this space for news of a reply.

Also, for those interested in answers to the question  – Why have a park and ride scheme at Alphington / what’s it for?’, then have a look at this, to see the story of how the case put forward for a new park and ride just keep changing,  as earlier justifications are disproved.

P & R : June planning application with shifting objectives

What is the point of the proposed Alphington Park and Ride?

Given that the proposed Alphington park and ride scheme is both  expensive and contentious, it is a matter of public interest that it should only be built if there are clear objectives for what it will achieve, backed up by evidence.  After years of claiming that this park and ride scheme will reduce congestion on the Alphington Road and improve air quality, Devon and Exeter Councils have had to drop those claims, as their own evidence disproved them.

After four months of asking and waiting, CWEST has finally extracted an answer to the all important question of what this park and ride scheme is therefore now expected to achieve, given that all the original reasons have been dropped.DCC now say that the “emerging objectives for the Park and Ride are to:

  • Support Economic Growth in Exeter
  • Deliver more reliable journey times on the Alphington Road Corridor
  • Offer lower cost, sustainable travel options for people travelling into the city”

CWEST believes that these are very vague and high level objectives.  We will be watching the ’emergence’ of these objectives as the consultants currently working on the planning application (see below) presumably will refine them over the coming weeks.

The objectives are further undermined by news, revealed at Exeter City Council’s recent Scrutiny Committee meeting on transport, that the Matford and Honiton Road park and ride are being used as free edge of town car parks,  by drivers who park and walk! Given that the Alphington park and ride would be the closest of any existing ones to the city centre and is just minutes walk to Marsh Barton, it’s a certainty that it too would be used as a free car park by drivers not using the buses.

News on park and ride planning application date

the latest news from DCC is that they are hoping to lodge the new planning application for the park and ride in ‘summer 2015’. There are Development Management Committee meetings on June 3rd and July 15th, so we assume that one of these is the target date.

Constructive meeting with DCC

CWEST have had a constructive meeting with Cllr Andrew Leadbetter and transport planner Jamie Hulland, (both from Devon County Council).  Cllr Leadbetter showed a very open mind in listening to what we had to say, both on the need for a fresh look at what is proposed for transport, and on the doubts CWEST has over whether a £6 million park and ride at the Alphington interchange  is the most effective transport tool. DCC will now be sending us their stated objectives for this park and ride site (something we have been waiting for since October) and evidence to show that it will achieve those objectives. DCC will also be helping CWEST in the goal of having a ‘user friendly’ and up to date list of what transport schemes are currently proposed for SW Exeter, with their costs and any information on how they will be funded. We will then publish this on this website.

Cllr Leadbetter suggested a further meeting with CWEST in January, to further discuss these issues.

CWEST will be putting a formal request to have a review of current transport proposals to Devon and Exeter Councils in January.

Response to CWEST from Exeter & Devon Councils

Thanks to Councillors Hannaford (St Thomas) and Hill (Cowick and Alphington) who were really supportive of our request for both greater clarity and transparency about what is going on regarding transport issues in SW Exeter, and our suggestion that it is time for a fresh, more innovative look at possible solutions. Cllr Hill also confirmed that not all councillors are yet convinced by the proposal to put a large park and ride on the Oaklands Riding School fields on the edges of Cowick and Alphington.

Our brief Q & A allocated time also confirmed our understanding that the only council committee (across Exeter City and Devon County Councils) that has a say on strategic transport matters, is the Devon County Council Cabinet, although a decision on whether or not funding will be awarded is now in the hands of the Heart of Devon Local Economic Partnership and not local government.

Thanks too to the Chair of the Joint Exeter Board, Cllr Leadbetter, who suggested that CWEST should come in to meet key officers and councillors to discuss our ideas further. A positive and more open dialogue about what is happening is exactly part of what CWEST was set up to achieve.

We are now settling down to do further background research on the issues so we are well prepared for that meeting. Watch this space!

A question to the Councils

CWEST  has just been launched and is starting by  putting forward a question to be asked at the joint County and City Councils’ Exeter Board, at their next meeting on 25 September at 6pm at County Hall. This question will be:

Given the considerable disquiet expressed by both councillors and many members of the public over the past 4 years regarding transport issues in SW Exeter, and the building of 3000 new homes, do councillors agree that proposed transport solutions for SW Exeter, including the proposed park and ride on protected River Valley Park land, are urgently in need of some fresh thinking?  We would also ask councillors to secure more transparency about what is going on and what is planned with regard to transport issues in SW Exeter, as there is a lot of interest in the topic.

Sign up for our update emails and find out what answers we get!

Alphington Park & Ride planning application

Mid September 2014.  Devon County Council will soon withdraw the planning application for an 800 space park and ride on the Oaklands Riding school fields. They will then be putting in a fresh application which seeks to soften the very significant amenity, visual and environmental impact of the proposed park and ride. CWEST will be following this process and can keep you in touch if sign up to our newsletter.

Getting public money to pay for SW Exeter transport solutions

Devon County Council, as the lead council for strategic transport, will lead an application  to the Heart of the SW Local Economic Partnership, for £6 million of public money, to build the Alphington Park and Ride. This application is a lengthy process, and includes showing how a final option has been chosen, and that more effective and/or cheaper alternatives have been properly considered. CWEST wants to be closely involved with this process and with exploring smarter transport solutions for SW Exeter.