£6.7m could be borrowed by council and repaid by developers through CIL/S106 payments

On 31 October 2018, East Devon District Council’s cabinet will meet to consider a report recommending that the council borrow the estimated £6.7million shortfall in funding for the delivery of the Axminster Relief Road, so that the road can be delivered before development to the east of the town commences.

The road is a key part of the eastern expansion of the town and the report recommends that East Devon and Devon County Council jointly commission the road and deliver it in a single phase using £10million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) monies secured by the council earlier this year, together with money borrowed to cover the £6.7m shortfall. The sum borrowed by the council would ultimately be repaid by developers from the sale of houses on the site.

Since the beginning of 2018, the council has been working closely with the main developers and landowners for the site to develop a masterplan, which will provide a template for how development to the east of the town will take place. The development will include a mixture of housing, employment and community spaces.

A consultation event on the masterplan was held in July 2018 with hundreds of Axminster residents attending to make their views known. For the past three months the council has been working hard on the masterplan and investigating how the road can be delivered. The report to cabinet on 31 October outlines the principles for delivering the road, ensuring that it is in place in its entirety early in the development of the site, thereby minimising the impact and disruption within the town while the site is built out - which is likely to take many years.

The report considers options, such as the developers themselves delivering the road alongside the housing and other development planned for the site, but this could take around ten to 15 years and the report identifies issues with rules on public spending and state aid associated with the council spending the £10million of HIF money through one of the developers.

It concludes that the council in partnership with DCC should take the lead on delivering the road, but expect the developers to repay the shortfall in funding through a legal agreement. If agreed, the report would establish these fundamental principles for the delivery of the road with the details to be worked up and reported back to members for them to consider at a future meeting. These principles would then inform the development of the masterplan for the site with a further consultation on draft proposals for the masterplan being planned for late November 2018.

Commenting on the relief road, Cllr Andrew Moulding, ward member for Axminster Town, said:

Following recent debates in the town about the favoured route for the relief road it is great to have the town council’s confirmed support for the eastern route and this report is a step forward in delivering it. I welcome this report and its conclusions. The eastern expansion of the town will take many years to build out and all the time the traffic will be increasing. To my mind it is vital that the Relief Road is delivered as early as possible to relieve the congestion and air pollution through the town centre.

For more information about the Axminster relief road, please visit the East Devon website