Controversial cycle/pedestrian plans between Sutton and Nene Valley Railway recommended for approval

Controversial plans for a new cycle and footpath between the village of Sutton and Nene Valley Railway’s Stibbington station have been recommended for approval.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 6:36 am

The proposals from the Peterborough Cycle West Project have divided residents and groups with numerous objections and letters of support being submitted to the city council whose planning committee will now have the final say today (Tuesday, June 29).

Plans for new cycle path between Sutton and Nene Valley Railway opposed over safety concerns

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An artist's impression of the new steps with a rail for bikes that will replace the old steps
An artist's impression of the new steps with a rail for bikes that will replace the old steps

The application is for a new cycle/pedestrian path from off Lovers Lane in Sutton across meadows onto a new footbridge over the River Nene to the Nene Valley station.

It would utilise part of the safeguarded land of the former Wansford to Stamford railway line, with Peterborough Cycle West Project hoping it would allow passing walkers and cyclists the chance to enjoy river views which do not exist at present.

It is also hoped that the new path would link with the wider countryside lanes in Northamptonshire, opening up access to villages such as Warmington and Elton.

Both Nene Valley Railway and Nene Park Trust, which owns most of the land, are supportive of the plans which they hope will boost visitor numbers if approved.

But Sutton Parish Council said it “strongly opposes” the application.

In its objection submitted to the council, it stated that there is “strong local opposition” with concerns over road safety, in particular for walkers, families with young children and horse riders.

The parish council explained: “Horse riding is a common and popular activity on Sutton’s roads. Sutton itself has three active stable yards and seven paddocks. Safety incidents with other road users is already an increasing danger to horse and riders both locally and nationally.

“The inevitable increase in cyclists and car traffic will only exacerbate the problem.”

It said that during a survey carried out in January 2020, 79 per cent of respondents (71) were opposed or strongly opposed to the proposed scheme, with 20 per cent (18) supportive or strongly supportive.

The parish council also highlighted Highways England’s plans to dual the A47 between Wansford and Sutton which includes cycle/pedestrian provision and which it believes will receive “overwhelming support”.

Peterborough Cycle West Project’s vision for its new cycle and footpath - which will require £400,000 to come to fruition - has been 11 years in the making.

The group, which has more than 200 supporters, raised £20,000 to allow for sustainable transport charity Sustrans to devise the scheme which has divided opinion.

Among those to object are the British Horse Society - which said creating cycle paths instead of bridleways gives preference to cyclists over pedestrians and equestrians - and Wansford Parish Council.

However, support has come from Peterborough Civic Society - which said the proposal would provide a “safe and convenient route” - as well as Ailsworth, Elton and Nassington parish councils, and the Langdyke Countryside Trust.

In total, the council has received 40 objections and 74 supportive statements.

A small section of the proposed site is within the Huntingdonshire District Council area, so another application has been submitted to the authority for its consideration.

A second application relating to the scheme will also be considered by the city council’s planning committee next Tuesday afternoon.

This is for a new set of steps to the existing bridge which would be “wider and longer than the existing steps to allow easier access for cyclists and pedestrians and would include two resting places and a wheeling channel for bicycles”.

The application has also been recommended for approval by the council’s planning department.