RESIDENTS in Princetown are questioning why roadworks for gas and telecommunication services have to last almost two months from Monday, July 1 to Friday, August 23.

The work is on a section of Mount Tavy Road, on the road from Tavistock to Princetown (via Merrivale), which will involve diverting traffic via Down Road or through Tavistock and then onto Yelverton and up to Princetown.

The gas work is by Wales & West Utilities, while the telecoms work is by Circet on behalf of Openreach.

The diversion will take place during Princetown Arts Festival and could affect visitor numbers, say festival organisers.

Nick Bennett, arts festival organiser and sculptor, said: “Once again Devon County Council highways seem to have failed completely to project manage this work. Two months closure on the main road which connects Princetown directly with its nearest town is appalling. This is done, once again, with no thought of local needs or the impact on rural areas by this kind of sloppy planning.

“Highways are being typically vague about the work to be carried out, citing both BT and Openreach in one place and gas works in another. This will seriously impact many people's ability to get to the Princetown Arts Festival, which attracts many visitors from Plymouth and Okehampton.

“I'm sure diversions will be put in place, but once again with negligible consultation with area and parish councils. An expected high footfall to the festival, many of which will be unfamiliar with the area, will be impacted.”

He said Devon Highways should be held accountable for what, in the private sector, would be deemed thoroughly ‘negligent’ or ‘lazy at best’ project planning: “Considering the huge volumes of money they take from taxation of their customer base, they should perform considerably better than this.”

Wales & West Utilities (W&W) programme controller, Abby Smith, said: “We will soon be working in the Mount Tavy Road area of Tavistock to upgrade the gas network. This work is essential to keep the gas flowing safely to heat and power local homes and businesses and to make sure the gas network is ready to transport greener gas in the future. 

“Our engineers will be working as safely and as quickly as possible. We will start our work on July 1 and barring any unforeseen circumstances, will be finished by August 23.

“In agreement with Devon County Council and in order to keep the local community, road users and our colleagues safe while we work, Mount Tavy Road will be closed at its junctions with Violet Lane and the A386 Stannary Bridge Road. A diversion route will be clearly signposted.

“We know that there are other roadworks going on in the area and we are sorry for any inconvenience that our works may cause. We know working on roads like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to upgrade the gas network and to keep the gas flowing to heat homes and power businesses in the area.”

The Wales & West Customer Service Team can take calls about the work on freephone 0800 912 2999 or [email protected]. Alternatively, on Twitter or X on @WWUtilities or”

A county council spokesman explained: “W&W and Cellnet are classed as statutory undertakers, and legally able to access, maintain and remove their infrastructure (New Roads & Street Works Act 1991).  And, therefore, are carrying out and managing the works and diversions.”

Roadworks planned between Tavistock & Princetown this summer.
Roadworks are planned between Tavistock and Princetown this summer which could disrupt the tourism trade (Tindle)