After seven years, outline planning permission for an intermodal freight facility and distribution centre, close to Exeter Airport has been approved.
The scheme got the go ahead after the signing of a Section 106 Agreement settling any outstanding issues connected with the site owned by the Church Commissioners, who are now planning to sell the 161 acre site.
East Devon District Council will work with any new owner on the detail of the design – including the building of a railhead into the site, extensive landscaping on the eastern boundary to screen the depot long-term, and of course the detail of the warehousing and other buildings on the site.
Once built, the depot will allow freight to be transported close to Exeter by train and to be onward shipped by road to the city and throughout the rest of the South West, with the potential of becoming a major commercial artery into the region. It will also mean that goods made in Devon and Cornwall can be taken to the depot by road and moved onward by rail – not forgetting that the nearby airport will also enable some items to be transported by air.
The granting of outline planning permission means that Phase One of the depot – a 49.42 acre site at Hayes Farm to the north of Clyst Honiton – can be started in 2008. The rest of the 161 acre site will be developed later.
The scheme was identified as favourite in a report from the South West and South Wales Multi-Modal Study (SWARMMS). The report looked at five other sites – in Bath, Taunton, Westbury, Plymouth and Roche in Cornwall.
The Exeter site was also favoured by a number of freight industry organisations, including Network Rail and the Strategic Rail Authority, which reported that it would provide “the best sustainable long-term integrated transport solution for this part of the region”.
Janthia Algate, of East Devon District Council, said: “Once operational, it is expected that the total anticipated employment within the freight transfer terminal would be 40 people.”