Plans for a long-awaited cycle trail linking Newton Abbot and Teignmouth have taken a leap forward after councillors pledged £1 million to get the next phase of the project underway.
Teignbridge’s full council has voted unanimously to buy the land for the £44 million project, designing the path and drawing up a business case to get more funding.
'This is unlocking a project that has been stalled for a decade,' said council leader Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE).
'It’s time to get moving. This shows what can happen when everyone works together.
'The money will come from the council’s community infrastructure levy, which is paid by developers building homes and businesses in the area.
The three-mile trail linking the Passage House Inn at Kingsteignton to the Morrisons supermarket on the outskirts of Teignmouth will also be suitable for wheelchair access.
It is part of a countywide strategy to invest in the cycling and walking network to support the local economy and provide a safer environment away from traffic.
A consultation on the proposals in 2020 attracted more than 3,000 responses, with 98 per cent in favour.
'It’s a much anticipated and well supported project,' said Cllr Gary Taylor (Lib Dem, Kenton and Starcross).
'It will enable greater travel options between city and sea, coastal towns and Dartmoor, and all points in between.
'Today we have reached an important milestone for a scheme which enjoys broad and consistent support from the public.'
Conservative group leader Phil Bullivant (Bradley) added: 'It’s a fantastic idea and it will be a great asset. It’s a good investment and it’s something we should be doing.
'However, he pointed out that the current costing of the project at £44 million made it as costly as the proposed new road at Drumbridges.
And Cllr Andrew MacGregor (SD Alliance Independent, Bishopsteignton) said: 'Sometimes we have to take cost on, because otherwise the cost of human life is the risk we take.“We are increasing the amount of housing in the district. That creates more traffic and makes it even more dangerous for those brave cyclists that actually do use the roads.
'Sometimes we have to say that the cost of human life is much more of a consideration than the cost in pounds and pence.
'The council will now spend £50,000 on drawing up the business case, £100,000 on design and £850,000 to acquire the land, which roughly follows the main railway line down the side of the Teign estuary.
The project has been in the pipeline since 2013, when the Town Quay bridge at Newton Abbot was opened, taking the cycling and walking trail as far as Kingsteignton.
Plans for the section down to Teignmouth were approved in 2021. It will be built in three phases, working up from Teignmouth towards Newton Abbot.