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Philip Evans


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OTTERY: Cycle route plans could provide spending boost

Tuesday, 06 May 2014

A new 16km walking and cycling route passing through Ottery St Mary could generate an extra £600,000 spending in the area per year, research published last week suggests. The idea to construct a multi-use route between Sidmouth and Feniton has been suggested in previous years, but a new feasibility study published by travel charity Sustrans has explored the options in more detail. The study reviews a number of different route options but the trail concept broadly follows the line of a dismantled railway, passing through Ottery and Tipton St John. Sustrans estimate the cost of constructing the route to be around £1.4million, but the expense could be doubled if provision is made for a bridge over the A3052 at Bowd. Paul Hawkins, Devon Area Manager for Sustrans, said: “The East Devon countryside is a beautiful experience on foot and cycle, and the concept of linking up these communities with a safe route is very appealing and would provide both tourism and local commuting benefits. “Delivery of a whole route would be complex, involve many stakeholders and take many years, but with careful planning, sections of the route could be delivered to the benefit of local communities.” The route, which would serve around 26,000 residents, would be delivered in sections over a number of years, but Devon County Council believes it could generate around £600,000 per year in additional spending in the area from cycling visitors. Through investment in cycling, the council has enabled a 15 per cent increase in average daily cycle trips across the county during the past five years, and hopes to further encourage visitors to travel by foot, cycle or horse. Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Cycling and walking have positive impacts on the local economy, improving health, tackling congestion and reducing emissions. “Devon is a leading authority when it comes to cycling and we have demonstrated in recent years that we have become a premier destination for cycling tourism. “East Devon is already popular with visitors and a multi-use route, particularly one which links to the Jurassic Coast at one end and Feniton railway station at the other, would provide an added draw. “As well as increasing visitor numbers to the area it would also enable local people to travel to work and school without relying on the car.” Councillor Claire Wright, Devon County Councillor for Ottery St Mary Rural, said: “The production of the feasibility study is a really important step forward - it tells us what needs to be done to make the cycleway achievable. “It will not be easy but there is a huge determination within the local community to make it happen. “I look forward to moving the Ottery section of the project forward with the help of the Otter Trail group and other members of the community.”


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