Upgrading a vital road between London and the South West will boost the region’s economy by £40 billion and create 21,000 new jobs.
That’s the message Devon County Council has delivered in evidence at a public examination of proposals to improve the A303 by constructing a tunnel to by-pass Stonehenge.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Development, told the Planning Inspectorate hearing that improving the A303 and the A30 and A358 “swallow-tail” was critical to the future prosperity of the South West.
Studies commissioned by a partnership of South West local authorities and LEPs have revealed that improving the whole A303/A30/A358 corridor would deliver a £40 billion uplift to the region’s economy from Cornwall to Wiltshire and create 21,000 new jobs. Productivity per head is currently £7,000 less than the UK average.
Councillor Davis said: “The South West desperately needs a safe, reliable alternative strategic route to London and the South East. Poor connectivity is harming our economy and leaves us vulnerable to severe weather disruption.
“The M5 clearly cannot cope but the A303, A30, A358 route isn’t the efficient alternative it should be. It is unsafe and unfit for the 20th century let alone the 21st. The notorious hold-ups that plague the route are a brake on business growth. Its sheer unreliability means South West companies have no idea how long it might take to transport their products.
“However, our studies show that improving journey times, making the whole corridor safe and reliable, will deliver a massive boost to the South West economy and a huge return on investment. Tackling the tailbacks at Stonehenge in a way that is sensitive to the World Heritage Site is the critical element in achieving that goal.”