There has been a history of proposed improvements to the A30/A303 corridor going back several years. Over the years the corridor has continued to be studied and in 2013, the ‘A303 Corridor Improvement Programme (including the A358 and A30)’ was undertaken by Devon County Council, Wiltshire Council, Somerset County Council and the Heart of the South West LEP. This study found that improvements to the A30/A303 have the potential to transform economic performance in the South West peninsula. The region is currently performing worse than others, with a low GVA per head and low average wages combined with a growing population at a rate faster than national average, thus putting increased pressure on the demand for strategic and local road networks.
The ‘A303 / A358 / A30 Corridor Improvement Programme: Economic Impact Study’ found that the scheme could help produce 21,400 jobs, generate £41.6bn to the economy (GVA), improve transport resilience to cope with incidents including flooding and save an anticipated 1807 fatal or serious casualties over 60 years. Existing journey time reliability on the route is a major concern for many businesses with disruption to business travel being identified as a particular issue with 89% of 650 businesses being affected. Improvements to the A303/A358/A30 and the subsequent enhanced connectivity will ensure investment confidence and business reputation in the region continues to grow in a sustainable manner with 62% of businesses reporting improvements would have a positive impact on turnover. This study also identified that the support for the scheme covers a broad spectrum from Local Enterprise Partnerships, Local Authorities, emergency services, local businesses and MPs.
Following this, Highways England undertook an ‘A303 / A30 / A358Corridor Feasibility Study’ which investigated the potential for deliverable and affordable improvements that offer value for money along the corridor. The study identified that dualling the A358 scored better overall than the alternative of improving the A30/A303 Southfields to Honiton on their own. However, whilst improvement of the A358 is ‘likely to enable the delivery of extra capacity; improvements to the A30/A303 between Southfields and Honiton are still desirable and the selection of just one of the options considered, including dualling the A358, is unlikely to achieve all the aims of the study’. These earlier reports help inform the investment detailed in the Road Investment Strategy (link).
In parallel with the Feasibility Study Devon County Council examined options for the Honiton to Broadway section and in March 2015, following a meeting between the then Minister of State for Transport, John Hayes, and the Leader of the County Council, John Hart, the section between Honiton and the Devonshire Inn was selected to be taken forward for further design. This section has the highest potential to deliver the biggest positive impact to the local community, particularly as this section travels through a designated 40mph zone through Monkton Village and several stretches with significantly substandard existing alignments. This section also carries the highest traffic flows and when combined, these elements represent good potential for a strong economic case.
In October 2015, the A30 Honiton to Devonshire Inn scheme mobilised with an inception meeting that included the various members of the project team and appointed sub consultants. The scheme is currently progressing with environmental sub consultants completing initial identification of environmental risks and constraints. This work will assist in informing route option development.