This section explains our thoughts regarding the Dartmoor National Park Master Plan and why we feel that our proposals offer a better option for Ashburton and the surrounding areas.
Master Plan Objectives ( In Bold)
Our Comments (In Italic)
Objective 1 – Create attractive, sustainable and accessible new residential opportunities for Ashburton.
With the exception of the housing on the south eastern side of the River Ashburn (on the old trackbed) this would be retained.
Objective 2 – Create an active place with uses that support existing businesses and the town centre.
We support the objective completely and believe that our proposals meet and exceed this objective.
Objective 3 – Create a sustainable, well connected, safe and attractive network of streets and spaces, which encourage pedestrian movement and cycling, whilst easing traffic movement across the site.
Our proposals include installing new walking / cycling routes and improving existing routes that will connect the various parts of the site and route through it. Seating areas will also be provided at various points. Our proposals would also see considerably less vehicle movements compared with the current levels or those of a convenience store.
Objective 4 – Conserve and better reveal the site’s heritage and natural assets. Reinforce the distinctive character and qualities of Ashburton.
We believe that our proposals will do this most effectively both by physically restoring the railway buildings as closely as possible to their original form and by providing a heritage centre to educate people in the heritage of the area.
Objective 5 – Alleviate flood risk on the site and ensure development does not worsen the existing situation.
Our proposals can potentially offer reduced flood risks to the area and help limit the damage caused when floods do occur.
Objective 6 – Improve parking availability in Ashburton.
Our proposal includes provision for circa 50 long stay car parking spaces alongside those already included as part of the residential developments of the DNPA master plan. (excluding the plot on the track bed mentioned above)
Objective 7 – Ensure each development contributes to the regeneration of the site as a whole.
This is exactly what are proposals aim to achieve, as well as making a large contribution to the town and local community
Our Additional Comments
- Proposal to build a convenience store on the site with parking;
We see this as potentially damaging to trade and traffic in the town. There are already two convenience stores in the town centre surrounded by small independent retailers. A convenience store in Chuley Road will draw convenience shoppers away from the centre and discourage visits to the other retailers and could ultimately lead to the collapse of businesses in the town centre. It would also increase road traffic around the Chuley Road/St Lawrence Lane area.
- Acknowledge the railway heritage and use it to enhance the historic environment of Ashburton town centre;
Our proposals would be to use the original station building to accommodate a heritage and educational resources centre, working closely with the town museum. The area under the train shed could be used for class room facilities short term and long term by restoring the platforms with a short length of track can be used to display larger static railway exhibits. We would wish to restore all the railway buildings to their original appearance in the long term, but in the short and medium term the goods shed and engine shed can continue their existing business uses.
- Encouraging Tourism
Enhancing the heritage attraction of the town will encourage visitors and associated spend. Rather than promote the use of cars by increasing car parking we propose operating a heritage bus service from Buckfastleigh Station via Buckfastleigh town and Buckfast Abbey to Ashburton. This would complement the existing 88 bus service to and from Newton Abbot and could also provide a park and ride from Buckfastleigh. This opportunity would have significant benefits for Buckfastleigh, Ashburton and the South Devon Railway by encouraging more tourist visits by the use of sustainable transport.
- Small Businesses
We would suggest that as the remaining small businesses on the Chuley Road site are not retail based, they could benefit from being located on the north east side of the town as already identified in the local plan where there are better communications and it is closer to the main residential estates. The small businesses in the town itself would receive large benefits for having the railway back in Ashburton.
- Returning Railway Services to Ashburton
This is very much a long term objective which we appreciate would entail a major project incurring considerable cost. However we very strongly believe that the opportunity to create a direct transport link into the centre of Ashburton at some point in the future should not be prevented by developments on the old trackbed at the present time. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the use of rail transport and in this case the heritage railway would in itself attract further tourism to the benefit of the local economy. With appropriate co-operation with the local councils and chambers of trade and retention of connecting heritage bus services it could be ensured that both Buckfastleigh and Ashburton would benefit from the extended services.