Derriford route closing for scheme to ease Tavistock Road traffic

A route to Derriford hospital is set to close – and around 40 trees are to be chopped down – for an improvement scheme that aims to ease traffic congestion on Tavistock Road. Plymouth City Council says preparation work for improvements to Morlaix Drive are set to get underway next month. A council spokesperson said: “Morlaix Drive is currently a narrow, 300m stretch of road that links Brest Road with Derriford Hospital and provides access for the ambulance station, the Thornberry Centre and the hospital’s large multi-storey car park.

It is, in parts, too narrow for vehicles to travel along in both directions. “Improvements include widening the road to allow for the flow of two-way traffic, including buses, and an upgrade of the existing narrow footway to a shared pedestrian and cycle path. “Although the main scheme will start later in the year, contractors will be moving in from Saturday 1 February to get the site ready for construction.

“In this case, it will involve felling the trees along the southern side of Morlaix Drive so that the widening of the road is possible. In all, around 40 trees will be removed along with surrounding shrubs and vegetation.” However, the council will be planting dozens of trees and scores of plants to mitigate the loss.

The spokesperson said: “We’ll be planting 57 small to large trees, 100 whips (branchless, plants that often flower) and low level, mossy understorey ornamental planting.

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“A variety of tree species will be planted next to the widened road to create a colourful arboretum, with sensitive lighting for bats and new bat and bird boxes. “Any trees that can’t be replanted on site with be placed in the nearby Bircham Valley Nature Reserve, where further biodiversity improvements may include restocking woodland, thinning and re-stocking/re-planting with more diverse species and undertaking ongoing tree maintenance.”

Morlaix Drive scheme details

“The main purpose of the Morlaix Drive Scheme is to provide better bus access to Derriford Hospital and improve reliability for bus services in the north of the city, complimenting the recently built Derriford Hospital Interchange and Marjon Link Road schemes.  This will, in turn, encourage more people to leave their cars at home when they are visiting or working at the hospital. Less cars of course means less pollution.

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“It won’t happen overnight and there’s still a long way to go but bit by bit, we’re trying to tackle the climate emergency by changing the way we do things, by thinking about sustainable ways of getting around and by ensuring that any loss of nature is replaced by more than what was there before.”

“Morlaix Drive will need to close to all vehicles (excluding ambulances and access), but work will be limited to day time working during the weekends only. Work will take place on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 February until 1 March, between 8am until 5pm.”

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“Morlaix Drive is one of a number of infrastructure improvements needed to allow sustainable growth in the north of the city to happen. It will become a key route for buses, allowing direct access to the hospital via the new Forder Valley Link Road for services from the east of the city.

“At the moment, traffic often queues along Brest Road at busy times of the day and the opening of the Forder Valley Link Road means that traffic and bus routes are set to change in the area in the next few years. “To help with this, the junction of Morlaix Drive with Brest Road will have new traffic lights and the northbound Brest Road entry on to Derriford Roundabout will be for buses and emergency vehicles only.

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“Traffic travelling to Derriford Roundabout from Morlaix Drive will be able to do so via William Prance Road, which was recently upgraded as part of the Derriford Transport Scheme. Pedestrian crossings and bus stops will also be upgraded.

“Staff and visitors to the hospital will still be able to use Morlaix Drive.

The southbound exit from Derriford roundabout onto Brest Road will remain open to all vehicles.

“The project is being funded using GBP3.3m of funding already awarded by the Department for Transport through the National Productivity Investment Fund with the Council contributing around GBP1.4m from developer contributions.”