This post provides an update on progress of the North Devon Link Road scheme since the publication of the Cabinet report in autumn 2016. You can read the cabinet report here.
The Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) was submitted to the Department for Transport in October 2016. This identified the type of improvements for the scheme and concluded ‘Stage 1’ of the project. The Department for Transport approved the Strategic Outline Business Case and agreed to fund Stage 2 work, developing more detailed designs and more accurate cost estimates, to progress the scheme to the submission of an Outline Business Case in December 2017. You can read the SOBC here.
Devon County Council was successful in securing and bringing forward future funding. Initially Stage 2 funding was not expected to become available until April 2017. In order to remain on programme Devon County Council applied for a portion of Stage 2 funding to be brought forward so that surveying could begin. The Department for Transport agreed to provide Devon County Council with the full amount of Stage 2 funding (£891,000) in February 2017. This brings the total amount of funding secured for the scheme to £1.5 million.
Topographical Surveys have taken place along the road. These were completed using a vehicle driven along the existing route supplemented with a helicopter “fly-over” which resulted in cost savings, and a reduced impact on local landowners by avoiding the need for land access. The data from these surveys will inform the design of the options to be presented for consultation in May 2017 and ensure that final options are buildable and cost effective.
Environmental Surveys have also been undertaken along the length of the link road and adjacent land. These surveys look for important environmental sites and habitats that may need to be protected during scheme design.
An initial design workshop has been held. The workshop, which bring together design and environment teams with key stakeholders, encourages the free flow of information. The workshops aim to identify issues at an early stage in the project to allow consideration by the designers and if necessary allow appropriate mitigation to be included in the scheme.
Road Side Interviews have been undertaken on the B3233 and A39. The interviews involved briefly stopping vehicles on the routes to gather information from drivers about their journey. The information provides a sample of typical journeys undertaken using the local rod network and has been used in the traffic modelling process as a sample of typical journeys undertaken using the local road network. The traffic model is used to determine the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) for the scheme. This is a key factor in the economic case for securing funding.
The Traffic Modelling team have completed a base model and have met with the Department for Transport to agree the methodology for modelling the scheme options. Meeting with the Department for Transport at regular intervals ensures that the approach used is acceptable and that the BCR calculated for the scheme is valid when the Outline Business Case is submitted to the Department for Transport in December 2017.
A Value Management Workshop will be held in April 2017. At the workshop stakeholders will be presented with the proposed scheme options. Stakeholders such as the Environment Agency and Historic England will be invited to give feedback and agree the options to be taken forward to consultation.
Devon County Council will be undertaking an External Gateway Review in spring 2017. The audit is a peer review process that works to provide assurance that the programme can progress successfully, as well as providing feedback on areas for improvement. The review will help deliver a better quality project and improve value for money.
Public Consultation will be launched in May 2017. During this time statutory bodies, members of the public and local groups will be invited to comment on the options proposed for the scheme. There will be a number of exhibition events at key locations in northern Devon where representatives from the project delivery team will be available to discuss options with members of the public. Information will also be published online, in local libraries and in local parish and town councils. To stay updated on public consultation dates, along with the developments of the scheme, please subscribe to our email service here.#
Updated 28/03/2017: Previous version incorrectly stated that representatives from the north Devon business community would be invited to attend the Value Management workshop taking place in April 2017. Business representatives will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals during the public consultation taking place in the summer 2017.