Why our future could depend on the Tavistock connection
By Plymouth Herald | Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 05:30
I HAVE a vision for Plymouth to have more visitors from Tavistock!
This was motivated by seeing a map in Hatherleigh Museum showing visitors there, how they could go and visit Truro and Exeter down the A30. But Plymouth wasn't mentioned.
I have also been wondering how we can make the A386 to Tavistock a wider and more comfortable road without its sick making bends at Magpie Bridge, and give cyclists a safer route. That's a very tough ask.
But low and behold an option has magically appeared.
Recently there were exhibitions to show the potential of travelling by rail from Plymouth to Bere Alston, and going on through to Tavistock by re-instating the 5.5 mile mining rail line closed in 1968.
The twin rail space is all there, and there is advanced plans to open a cycle track along this attractive stretch taking in Morwellham to name but one beauty spot.
Opening the line could see the return of direct services to Tavistock.
This will also help to connect rural West Devon and Morwellham World Heritage Site with Plymouth national rail network.
Rail links to Gunnislake from Bere Alston would remain.
There are hurdles to overcome.
Tavistock is wary of the arrival of maybe 700 new homes that Bovis will build.
They don't know how much of this will be affordable housing and social housing, and are wondering what type of person will take these up.
But Tavistock has its share of empty shops, and more residents will be good long term, and so will the opportunities for them all to travel to Plymouth, and vice versa.
I believe these fears need addressing by the developers and are surmountable. Good parking at Tavistock and onward bus services to the town and maybe other mid-Devon destinations will help.
Plymouth too will need to address the transport needs of the extra visitors.
Work has begun to assess the current track's strength's and weaknesses, and a Transport and Works Act Order Application (TWAO), and a Public Inquiry will be needed.
Due to our planning complexities these are envisaged for 2014/5.
But is not too early for us in Plymouth to begin looking at the station parking and visitors transport needs, (if indeed it hasn't started).
The project is in the West Devon Borough Council's Core Strategy.
At this stage it is not too early to start getting excited.
Think of the exchange of visitors with the addition of this line.
Think of the advantages of alternative travel for local people, and the reduction in road pollution on the A386.
Think too of the recreational asset of the cycle track, cycle safety off the A386 and the beauty spots it will take in.
We have many pipe-dreams to improve our road, rail, and air links from the south-west.
Here we have a potential that is already half way to being realised if enough people see its advantages and support it at a public enquiry.
I'm sure It will be a big fillip for Plymouth's status and economy when it is built.