The Department for Transport has accepted new plans to develop a cycling centre and improve or create 30km of cycling routes in the New Forest. The approval comes after plans for the UK’s first rural bike hire scheme were rejected by members of the New Forest National Park Authority in August last year, due to concerns about financial sustainability of the £2m scheme.
Alternatively, six projects were put forward by members back in September to encourage more regular cycling among visitors and residents, by improving cycling routes and facilities in and around the New Forest.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill has approved four of the six proposed schemes. The minister also reiterated support for a family cycle centre in Brockenhurst, developed on unused land. The cycle centre will create at least two new jobs and safeguard 22 others.
The four approved projects include improvements to 25km of off-road cycle tracks, a new 2km off-road cycle route from Marchwood to Eling, connecting the National Park with Southampton and Totton, 3km of bridleway improvements for better access to Fawley, Minstead and Emery Down, and improvements to the popular Castleman Way cycle route, linking the New Forest with Poole.
Funding for the cycle centre and the four approved schemes are part of a wider programme of works, which aims to deliver:
• Nearly 90kms of upgraded cycle routes and 6kms of new off-road cycle routes in and around the New Forest.
• 400 additional bikes for hire in the National Park through grants to businesses and communities.
• £403 000 of grants allocated to 17 projects for local businesses and organisations, including a new cycle hire centre in Ashurst, an expanded cycle hire centre in Burley, a number of bike racks at local villages, and a larger fleet of specially adapted bikes for people with disabilities.
Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “We believe the revised programme of cycling projects will encourage more people to choose the bicycle rather than the car as a mode of transport. That in itself will help improve people’s health and reduce congestion and carbon emissions, helping to protect the fragile and internationally-important landscapes of the National Park.”
For more information, visit: www.gov.uk/government/news/decision-on-new-forest-cycling-ambition-project