A NEW off-road multi-use trail, described as the ‘missing link’ between Seaton and Colyford, is on the way.
The £1.2 million scheme, approved by Devon County Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, will improve part of the existing National Cycle Network Route 2 in East Devon, which currently diverts onto a section of road that is unsuitable for families and less confident cyclists.
The off-road section will run from the rear of properties at The Saltings to Marsh Lane Cemetery, linking to Seaton Wetlands. It will 'encourage and enable more people to use sustainable travel and help reduce carbon emissions' according to the council.
Route 2 of the network also includes the Exe Estuary Trail and connects Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Seaton and Axminster through to the Dorset border and onwards towards Portsmouth.
In a statement, Councillor Stuart Hughes (Conservative), cabinet member for highways, said: 'By completing the missing off-road section of this route, it will unlock the full potential of the trail for people of all abilities.
'Establishing a high-quality sustainable travel connection will encourage people to be active while supporting our net zero carbon targets and the green recovery of our economy.'
Local councillor Marcus Hartnell (Conservative, Seaton and Colyton) added: 'I welcome completion of this final section of the multi-use path … It’s a milestone that the communities of both Seaton and Colyford will welcome.'
He continued: 'The benefits are widespread, encouraging safe and sustainable travel, improving accessibility for all, and boosting the local tourism economy.'
Cllr Hartnell did, however, request safety improvements in Colyford where the path exits onto Seaton Road, an issue also raised by a number of local residents according to Cllr Hughes. He said he had already spoken to an officer about it.
East Devon District Council also support the new scheme, a report presented to cabinet revealed. It believes the multi-use path 'will provide a stimulus for further tourism growth.'
County council opposition leader Julian Brazil (Lib Dem, Kingsbridge) welcomed the plan but said he was 'wary' of what are described as ‘low traffic lanes’ along the route to Axminster.
'In some cases these can be the most dangerous for cyclists,' he said. 'If it’s anything like the lanes near me, that is high hedge lanes with lots of blind corners, and the idea that cyclists have a safe passage is far from true.'
He acknowledged the council 'can’t solve that overnight,' but said it was something that should be looked at 'in the future'.
In response, Cllr Hughes said the part of the route towards Axminster had been used for a number of years already.
Cabinet approved the section of trail. It is proposed to be constructed this summer.