New bridge over A3052 for safer cycling in Sid Valley?

Members of the Sid Valley Links steering group at their first meeting.

Members of the Sid Valley Links steering group at their first meeting. - Credit: Archant

A safe crossing over the A3052 for cyclists and walkers could make Sidmouth healthier and wealthier, according to a new group.

Sid Valley Links – made up of a wide range of community organisations – will support cycle network charity Sustrans to conduct a study on how to get more residents on their bikes, potential new routes and the costs involved.

The £5,220 project was commissioned by the Otter Trail Group, which has been pushing for a 16km shared-use trail between Feniton, Ottery St Mary, Tipton St John and Sidmouth.

Sid Valley Links founder member Peter Murphy, an ambassador for the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), said: “Sid Valley Links has agreed to collaborate with the Otter Trail Group to share information, contacts and ideas with particular reference to the A3052 crossing.

“Sustrans and Devon County Council will consider all available options – although funding a suitable bridge presents a challenge.

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“We are determined to make every effort to move the project forward for the benefit of the many community and sporting groups who would use an extended route for recreational and commuting purposes.

“The benefits to the local economy are potentially substantial once a new route is in place, which could attract visitors from the UK and abroad to East Devon for activity and touring holidays.”

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He said the study will build on previous research and look at various routes through the Sid Valley, but the one preferred by DCC is the ‘Woolbrook corridor’. This would ultimately need to cross the busy A3052 near The Bowd to link up with the Otter Trail and onwards to Feniton.

Sustrans published a report in 2014 that said a bridge over the road could cost up to £1.5million - but the resulting cycling visitors could bring between £300,000 and £600,000 a year to the area.

The proposed route between Feniton, Ottery St Mary, Tipton St John and Sidmouth loosely follows the old railway line. There have long been calls to bring it into use as a shared route, although it has been developed in sections and is in multiple ownership.

The latest study is set to be completed in March. The majority of funding is being provided from the AONB’s sustainable development fund. The remaining quarter is coming from county councillor Stuart Hughes’ locality budget. He has also promised to provide previous studies on the topic.

Sid Valley Links includes representatives of Sustrans, East Devon AONB, East Devon District Council, DCC, the Vision Group for Sidmouth, the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan steering group and the Sid Valley Cycling Club.

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