A ‘TRAFFIC-FREE greenway’ through Warwickshire is a step closer to reality.
Planning permission has been granted by Stratford District Council for improvements to Route 41 or the ‘Lias Line’ – named after the railway route it will follow – which will connect villages across the county via a safe cycling and walking track.
The Stratford application, from walking and cycling charity Sustrans, is the first of three necessary to complete the scheme. The second is expected to be determined by Rugby Borough Council soon, followed by a further application to Warwick District Council.
If all three applications are approved, work could start mid-2021 and be completed by summer 2022.
In Stratford, a new off-road track will aim to improve connectivity with Long Itchington and other nearby villages, and form phase two and three of the project.
In the first phase, near Rugby, the route will be diverted onto a completely new sealed surface off-road stretch of track to create a more direct link between the villages of Offchurch and Birdingbury. A new bridge over the A423 at Marton is proposed to replace an existing structure. This phase will cost around £4.5million.
The improvements have been made possible thanks to a £20million funding package from the Department for Transport to improve the National Cycle Network. The grant followed a review by Sustrans in 2019 which found that the Lias Line was in a very poor condition.
HS2 will be constructing Offchurch Cycle Overbridge over the Fosse Way to reconnect the Lias Line Greenway to the Offchurch Greenway.
Sustrans spokeswoman Carmen Szeto said: “Throughout this project we’ve worked closely with the local community so we’re really pleased that planning permission has been granted in Stratford. When this scheme is complete it will provide cyclists, walkers and horse riders with a mix of leisure and commuter opportunities.
“Around 8.3km of on-road provision between Leamington Spa and Rugby will be replaced with 6.18km of very good off-road track. This will create a safer route which will also become Warwickshire’s longest traffic-free greenway.
“We’re really pleased with this decision and we now eagerly await the outcome of the process in neighbouring Rugby and Warwick.”
Coun Louis Adam, who represents Long Itchington and Stockton ward, is backing the scheme. He said: “I am very pleased to see a step towards improved cycling routes in our area. This stands to improve both people’s health and wellbeing, and our local economy.
“I trust that this development of the Lias Line will improve accessibility to the countryside for our residents and support a sustainable environment in our rural setting”
Visit www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/lias-line for more information.