Plans to look at Sidmouth cycle path backed by town council

PUBLISHED: 17:55 29 July 2017

New funding will boost Weston's cycling network.

New funding will boost Weston's cycling network.

Archant

Plans to look at possible cycle routes from Feniton to Sidmouth seafront have been backed by the town council.

Kirby James, from the Otter Trail Group, spoke to members this month on the importance of being ‘shovel ready’ if funding for the link becomes available.

He urged the council to learn from past lessons, where authorities in other counties had lost out and had been forced to give funding back while discussion took place about routes and planning permission was sought.

Mr James said: “Money can emerge from unexpected sources and, if you are ready to go, you are in a much better position.”

He added that £5,000 had been spent on a feasibility study on a route recommended by Sustrans - a national charity which promotes cycling and walking - for a route between Feniton and Sidmouth.

To build the whole cycle path, it would cost £1.4million and a further £1.5million if a bridge was put over the A3052 to directly connect Sidmouth to it.

Mr James added that the Otter Trail Group had already raised money and paid a civil engineer to take a detailed look at three of the seven sections of the route to see what work exactly needed doing.

He said the group had spoken with landowners north of the A3052 and was getting to the point where it was almost ready to ask contractors for estimates and seek planning permission, so,if money did emerge, it was ready to go.

Mr James urged councillors to back a move to look into possible routes down to Sidmouth’s seafront, so the town could be ready and would not miss out.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Stuart Hughes said that, last year, more than 500,000 trips were recorded on the Exe Estuary Trail and the Tarka Trail, which was one of the first cycle paths in Devon and has an estimated one million users per annum.

He added: “Imagine if we could attract people to come down by train and cycle into Sidmouth and use that trail - it would be amazing. If we could get that bridge across, too, the world would be our oyster.

“You could be looking at another half a million visitors coming to the town at least - it would be great.”

The next step now will be for Devon County Council officers to make contact with Sidmouth landowners to discuss their views.

Cllr Hughes said it could be anything up to eight years before the Sidmouth cycle path is made a reality.

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