Axminster Carpets backs bypass call

Firm’s support welcomed by town councillors as they call for relief road to be top planning priority

AXMINSTER Carpets has thrown its weight behind calls for a north-south relief road for the town.

But its says relying on housing to fund it would be a mistake.

The company has been criticised because its scheme to build up to 400 homes at Clokham Lawns does not make provision for a bypass.

Environment campaigners, Save our Parkland have launched a legal challenge to their planning consent, saying other developers are prepared to build the road as part of their permission.

But this week Carpets Managing Director Josh Dutfield moved to set the record straight offering what deputy mayor Jeremy Walden said was “vital support” for the relief road.

In a statement to town councillors on Monday night he said: ”Axminster Carpets has consistently believed and stated that the funding of a bypass via a housing development-only solution is not achievable or would see unsuitable compromises.

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“In any development contributions are made to the local community to make building sustainable – these include education contributions, affordable housing offered, other infrastructure needed or occasionally major infrastructure such as a bypass or road. No one development can afford all these elements.

“A funding strategy via alternative routes including the county and central government authorities is supported by the company as achievable and realistic over a certain time period. “Seeking these funding options requires extensive work that would include economic benefit assessments, bypass building costs, traffic assessments and the like.

“The company supports the bypass, however current focus centres around successful completion of the legal challenge on the Cloakham development. Once clear the company looks forward to offering further support.

“The company hopes that all members of the community understand that the fate of the bypass does not depend on Cloakham development and regardless of the legal proceedings the company will push ahead on the Cloakham development whether by having to make a re-application or gain a favourable verdict through the courts. The company will re-invest the proceeds creating further long term jobs in the town.

“Axminster Carpets would like to thank the local community/ employees, town council. East Devon Council for the more recent constructive dialogue to come to a workable strategy/solution.”

Town councillors welcomed the company’s assurances and agreed that they would continue to push for a north-south relief road to be included in the district council’s Local Development Framework (LDF) currently being drawn up. It remained their top priority.

Mayor Andrew Moulding said the letter of support from the Carpet factory was “very important”.