Axminster councillors back eastern bypass

Axminster Guildhall Manager Anni Young ready to welcome concert goers. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Axminster Guildhall Manager Anni Young ready to welcome concert goers. Picture: CHRIS CARSON - Credit: Archant

Members told that building the inner relief road to the west was ‘undeliverable’ and would never happen

Town councillors have reaffirmed their support for Axminster’s long-awaited north-south relief road to be built to the east of the town.

The decision to back the official preferred route was approved by six votes to two at a packed meeting of the authority on Monday night. Three members abstained.

Under present proposals the £17million scheme takes the road to the East, starting at Weycroft and emerging on the Lyme Road near the A35.

It will be part funded by developers building more than 650 homes in the area and the Government has pledged £10million towards the road.

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But opponents say building the bypass in this location will not solve the major problem of the Weycroft Bridge bottleneck.

And there are calls that the town should press for an alternative route – across the flood plain to the west - despite its much higher cost, probably more than double the sum.

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More than 100 people attended the council meeting, many voicing concerns that the eastern route would fail to adequately tackle the town’s congestion problems.

But district councillor Andrew Mounding said the Local Plan officially identified the north-south relief route as going to the east – and this could not really be altered.

A western bypass had been considered by experts who all concluded it could not be achieved. He said their verdict was: ”It is fundamentally undeliverable and will never happen.”

He added: “We need to progress with the north-south relief road to relieve our town of the congestion we have put up with for far too long.”

Deputy Mayor Anni Young said: “The choice is a road to the east or no road at all – that’s the reality. We don’t have the money to do the other road.”

She stressed that the funding pledged by the Government towards the proposed eastern route could not be transferred to another project.

She added: “To have £10million is surely better than no road for a town that is struggling because buildings are being damaged by lorries thundering through.”

Councillors did back a resolution to press Devon County Council to find a solution to the Weycroft Bridge bottleneck as a separate issued ahead of the new relief road.

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