Further development will unlock potential
The announcement has been welcomed by commercial property experts in the region, where significant investment could generate more interest in industrial land, logistics hubs and town expansion through further development.
An ambitious £15 billion plan to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of key roads was announced by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander. Mr McLoughlin said the investment would “dramatically improve the network and unlock Britain’s economic potential”.
The biggest investment in roads in a generation will upgrade major corridors in and around the south west of England including the A303, A30 and A419, he said.
Increased access will boost inward investment
Marcus Plaw, director of planning at commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) in Bristol and the South West said: “This level of investment can only be welcomed. A more accessible region will increase its attractiveness to inward investment. Improvements to the A303 and its connecting roads will get the headlines but it is important to view the roads investment alongside other transport initiatives including railways investment.
“In the context of yesterday’s announcements, it is more likely that Wednesday’s Autumn Statement will tie these and other new infrastructure plans with the mooted announcements regarding urban planning and garden city developments. It will be interesting to hear of other development strategies that the Government will seek to drive forward through these road improvements.“
Public sector bodies urged to consider effects of improvements in strategic plans for growth
Jaime Blakely-Glover, director of public sector advisory services at LSH, added: “Local authorities will need to consider the effects of these improvements in their strategic plans for growth and their own property strategies. New infrastructure investment unlocks property markets and value growth – this presents a range of opportunities for value enhancement, long-term income and a central role in driving economic growth.
“It is an opportunity for public sector bodies to look at long-term partnership arrangements as a means of creating value and increasing income as well as more traditional disposal programmes for surplus assets.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “I promised when I was in the South West that we would address this area’s economic needs for the future. Our Long term-economic plan means today we can invest £2 billion into the region’s infrastructure to improve, repair and expand our roads.
“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes. Having recently visited Wincanton, I am certain our ambitious project to create a tunnel on the A303 and dual the road all the way to Taunton via the A358, as well as our plans for dualling along the A30 in Cornwall, will boost productivity and help the local economy of the South West.
“For years our roads like the A303 have been neglected. Now that this government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads – unlocking jobs and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.”
Spending during the next parliament on the local and national roads network across the South West will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth £1.7 billion.
Highlights of today’s announcement are:
A £2 billion transformation of the A303 into a new strategic corridor to the South West, this includes:
A new 1.8 mile dual-carriageway tunnel on the A303 under Stonehenge which will unite the landscape and environment around Stonehenge - it will also unlock the key pinch-point that has prevented the transformation of the A303 in the past, making it possible to upgrade the entire route to expressway standard.
This is the largest of a total of 6 road-widening projects over the next 15 years, which will create an all-dual route from the M3 to the M5 at Taunton, with improvements around Sparkford and to the A358 link being the first to enter construction.
The result will be the biggest increase of connection for the region since the opening of the M5, meaning easier journeys and more opportunities for growth.
Dualling of the last single carriageway gap on the A30 into Cornwall, so that an ‘expressway’ standard road will run all the way from Exeter to Camborne - together with planned work near Bodmin, this extends the dual carriageway section of the A30 by 40 miles, stopping only 15 miles from Land’s End: this will transform the way that Cornwall is connected to the rest of the country.
Careful examination of the A417 ‘missing link’ at the ‘Air Balloon’ roundabout, developing a solution that can match both the economic importance of the route to the economy of Gloucestershire and the sensitive environmental conditions around the site of the road itself.
A new junction on the M49 will support the enterprise zone at Avonmouth.
Enhancements along the M5 will unlock further development sites at Hinkley Point.