THE chair of a regional transport body has spoken up in favour of the A358 upgrade, saying it will make a ’huge difference’ to the south west’s economy. 

Andrea Davis is chair of Peninsula Transport, a shadow strategic body bringing together the five lead transport authorities for Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset. She is also a Devon county councillor. 

In a short video currently being circulated on social media by National Highways, she describes how the whole area – including Devon - will benefit from the upgrading of an 8.5 mile section of the A358 between Southfields Roundabout on the A303 and the M5 at Taunton to a high quality dual carriageway. 

She said: “For as long as I can remember the A358, particularly in Henlade, has been a bottleneck and is indeed now is constantly at a standstill. So that affects travel times for people coming in and out of the region but also the air quality for those local residents.  

“Not only does that put off visitors from coming, it also puts off businesses relocating. They have a problem getting goods in and getting goods out. The A358 is a key part of our transport infrastructure that, if improved, would make a huge difference to the economic and to the health and wellbeing of every resident in Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset. 

“Therefore it’s absolutely key that this is achieved to put us on a more level playing field with the rest of the nation.” 

The video is the latest in a series compiled by National Highways ahead of its submission of a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the A358 upgrade later this year. Other videos feature the chair of Visit Somerset Giles Adams, the manager of a Taunton hotel, the chairman of Ruishton and Thornfalcon Parish Council, Doug Lowe, and Emma Rawlings, executive director of Somerset Chamber of Commerce. They all talk about the benefits the upgrade will bring. The videos can be viewed here

A supplementary consultation on the scheme ended in June this year, and a report on its results will form part of the planning application for the Development Consent Order.