THERE was something to cheer about last week for residents at the New Park estate in Bovey Tracey.

The Ashburton Road, which links the park estate to Bovey Tracey, has been closed for two years, meaning a six-mile detour for anyone wanting to visit the town.

Devon Highways have now begun rebuilding the road, re-routing it to avoid old mine workings which caused a collapse of the highway.

Following the incident, the area was monitored to ensure no further collapses would creep along, and now the highway will be reconfigured onto a section of Dartmoor National Park land to avoid any hollows. It’s expected the works will finally be finished late autumn.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: ‘The first phase of this scheme is currently underway with contractor E & J W Glendinning Ltd carrying out work to create a new ditch, fence line and hedgerow. The aim is for the fencing and landscaping to be completed by this Friday, April 8, with the final drainage and other work set to be finished during the following week. 

‘There will then be a brief pause while we finalise the detailed design and procure a contractor for the second phase.

‘We currently expect phase two to start toward the end of May/early June and envisage that this work will take around five months to complete, depending upon the appointed contractor’s programme. The phase two work will include service diversions, new drainage, kerbing and surfacing. Once this has been completed the road will reopen to vehicles.’

Colin Back is the chairman of New Park CommunityAssociation which represents some 400 people. Together with Peter Mallaband and Heather Ellis he has spent two years campaigning to speed up the works.

He explained the residents, many of them elderly, had faced long detours to visit doctors, go shopping in Bovey Tracey or attend church. As many cannot drive they incurred higher taxi fares.

Many residents have lost regular visits from family and friends who live in Bovey Tracey which has laid heavy on some residents who relied on family and friends for shopping or outings, leading to feelings of isolation.

Mr Back said ‘I appreciate that for the first six months, nothing was done due to the lockdown.

‘Furthermore, it was difficult to locate the tunnels for the former lignite mine.

‘It was hard to find plans for the mine workings as the mine was owned by a German company which returned to Germany at the start of the Second World War.

‘It’s been a long process but Meg Booth and the Devon Highways team have been very good in keeping in touch following our impact assessment report.’