Update on Traffic and Road Conditions in The Avenues

Very recently we copied you on an update by Geoff Crawford to a number of residents towards the lower end of Douglas Avenue regarding HGV traffic to and from Plumb Park. TARA are working closely with Geoff and in the last 10 days there has been a considerable amount of discussion with local Councillors. In turn, the Councillors have had meetings with EDDC Planning, DCC Highways, and with Taylor Wimpey (TW). The TARA Committee also met on Wednesday July 1st and agreed a number of measures and we want to update you on the latest progress, what else is happening, and to ask you to contribute ideas.

Bruce de Saram, Christine Channon and Jeff Trail BEM (our EDDC & DCC Councillors, respectively) had a Zoom meeting with two senior local managers for TW. The main subjects were: volume and speed of HGVs, their routing, and also the damage to the roads, particularly around Cranford Avenue, Buckingham Close, and Douglas Avenue. The outcomes were:

  1. TW revealed that they aim to run annual ‘campaigns’ to remove spoil from Plumb Park with each campaign lasting around 8 weeks and involving around 80 trips per day. They operate in a similar way from the Buckingham Heights development (Pankhurst Close).
  2. EDDC Planning have written to TW reminding them that: a) Contractor’s HGVs should not be accessing Maer Road and the seafront except ‘in an emergency’. The letter also re-iterates the need for lorries to be covered to and from the site. b) EDDC Planning have requested that Taylor Wimpey work with their contractors to ensure that lorries are fitted with speed monitoring and reporting devices. As an addendum, Roy Taylor, the TW Production Manager based at Sowton Industrial Estate, has confirmed that these trackers are now fitted. He asks that members notify him with the details of any HGV which is felt to be exceeding the speed limit. His contact details are: roy.taylor@taylorwimpey.com. If you do contact him, please mention that you are a TARA member and also copy Deirdre Jennings. c)TW are reminded that HGVs operating to and from Buckingham Heights should not access Douglas Avenue under any circumstances, but enter and leave via Littleham Cross.
  3. As a result of the Councillors’ efforts, TW have agreed to help repair damage to the roads and DCC Highways have appointed them as an official repairer. Hopefully we will start to see something happening soon.
  4. Thanks to DCC Highways, TW have contacted the TARA Chairman, Deirdre Jennings, to discuss better advance communication of major activity to residents. They did notify during w/c July 6th that they were going to be moving loads of aggregate to Plumb Park all week, but too late on this occasion to pass the message on to you.
  5. It is clear that Planning were not aware of the likely volumes of spoil to be removed from Plumb Park, over how many years, and requiring how many vehicle movements and therefore having what impact.
  6. It is still to be clarified who will resurface local roads at the end of the Plumb Park build.

There have been noticeably fewer HGV movements in the last week, and thanks to the efforts of Councillor Jeff Trail (DCC), they are no longer arriving in convoy. TARA will seek a meeting with TW in the near future to maintain pressure.

However, many of you living around Cyprus Road and Maer Road will still be seeing a lot of HGV movements and it has been discovered that these Gregory lorries are travelling to the South West Water (SWW) sludge works on Maer Lane. The frequency is so high currently because two other SWW sites are out of action so their workload is being absorbed by Exmouth. It is not clear how long this will continue, but Cllr Bruce de Saram is in contact regarding this.

TARA continue to apply pressure regarding the need for traffic calming measures, particularly along Douglas Avenue and potentially on Cranford Avenue, to alert all drivers to the speed limit and to seek ways of slowing vehicles down. This is a problem on any day of the week and pretty much any time of day.

Again thanks to actions by the Councillors a meeting took place this week between Highways, Christine Channon, and Jeff Trail. They all visited the site of the new Deaf Academy, observed the situation through The Avenues, and met with TW at Plumb Park. A number of things have resulted:

  1. Cllr Channon has offered funds to allow a Vehicle Activated Speed sign to be installed. These light up and show drivers if they are exceeding 30mph – many people may inadvertently speed and these signs are found to be very effective but not a 100% solution.
  2. The TARA Committee on Wednesday agreed to match these funds from existing reserves subject to clarification from DCC regarding installation and maintenance costs. There should be at least two such signs, probably towards either end of Douglas Avenue.
  3. It may well be that a similar warning sign is installed near to the Deaf Academy possibly with other measures.
  4. TARA have repeatedly asked that a proper survey of traffic volumes and speeds be made along the worst affected road, Douglas Avenue. A survey would help establish the scale of the problem and then the best traffic calming measures to use. It looks as though that will finally happen and our local Highways manager will contact Simon Davidson to discuss further.

Your Committee views discussion, partnership, and collaboration as being the best way to continue to move all of this along and to deliver an improved living environment now and in the future. We are preparing a Strategy document to share with the Councillors, EDDC, DCC, the Town Council, and other interested parties. This document would cover all the areas above but also seek to improve conditions for residents, cyclists and walkers.

If you have any ideas that you would like to put forward, please send them to Simon Davidson by email by July 17th. The address to use is: anitasimond@gmail.com