Marsh Barton is Exeter’s largest trading estate, and one of the largest employment sites in the region, with employment planned to increase to 8,000 jobs. The trading estate covers over 1.2 square miles (3.1 sq km) supporting over 500 businesses, including one of Europe’s largest motoring centres, showrooms, builders’ merchants, tool and plant hire.
The County Council will be delivering a new pedestrian/cycle bridge, access, turning area and a pedestrian/cycle path, which will be Devon County Council-owned highway.
Marsh Barton station is a core element of the Devon Metro rail strategy for Exeter (shown below) and is central to the growth plans not only for the Marsh Barton employment area, but also for the South West Exeter urban extension, as well as Dawlish and Newton Abbot. It is expected to play a major part in the growth of the rest of Exeter by improving access to Marsh Barton from across the city, which will also enhance links from growth areas to the east of Exeter.
The project aims to support further economic growth by unlocking development at Marsh Barton and to the South West of Exeter, while also benefiting existing business. The planned growth of the area is currently restricted by the poor transport links which act as a barrier to development and will increasingly impact on the viability of existing businesses.
The current road network in the Marsh Barton area is facing increasing pressure from the volume of traffic during peak periods as there are a lack of alternatives to the private car for travel to and from this part of Exeter. For further information on traffic pressures in the county see the Devon and Torbay Local Transport Plan 3, 2011-2026.
Improving public transport options will provide a number of benefits. A new railway station at Marsh Barton will improve access to employment opportunities for those from South Devon who do not have access to a car, widening employers’ access to the labour market and supporting the national levelling-up agenda.
By improving the rail network, the new station will encourage people to shift to more sustainable modes of transport, helping to tackle congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality. This is in line with Devon County Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency, which commits the county to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Another benefit of the scheme is in helping to make Devon a place to be naturally active by encouraging walking and cycling. The station is located near the Riverside Valley Park and the Exe Estuary Trail, providing easy access to walking and cycle links for ‘last mile’ connectivity to the city’s major employment sites such as the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and County Hall. Enabling people to adopt active travel as part of daily commute aligns with Devon’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-25 which highlights that the County Council’s priorities include “creat[ing] conditions for good health, physical activity and social interaction” and “prevent[ing] ill health by enabling people to live healthier lives.”
The project will also improve access to employment and outdoor leisure opportunities for disabled people, and the design of the station has been informed by consultation with groups representing disabled people and access to the outdoors. For instance, drop-off bays will be provided on both sides of the station, as it was highlighted during consultation that many disabled people travel to and from railway stations by taxi, and there will be step-free access to both platforms, in contrast to the adjacent stations on the rail network (Exeter St Thomas and Starcross).