Funding is available for walking and cycling routes in Hastings and Bexhill – and supporters of the Ore Valley Greenway route would like to have some of it.
East Sussex County Council has secured £6 million of local enterprise funding (LEP). The Hastings Greenway Group, supported by Ore Community Land Trust (CLT), The Ramblers, and Hastings Urban Bikes, is requesting £1 million of the budget be allocated to the Ore Valley Greenway route.
Organisers used social media to invite people to join them on a walk down the route, on Saturday, January 21, which was attended by dozens of supporters.
What would the route bring? Hastings Greenway Group secretary Rebecca Polain said: “In Hastings, 30 per cent of wards are in the 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods in the country, and the Hastings Borough Council area is ranked 13th most deprived out of all 326 local authorities in England, therefore they deserve infrastructure investment more than any other parts of the Borough.
“Car ownership is very low in this area, with most people walking or using public transport. Therefore this will provide valuable connections from one side of the valley to the other. Safe cycle routes would be created that avoid steep hills, circuitous routes and dangerous roads.
“This would allow many people who won’t risk cycling on the roads in Hastings to start cycling again, including children getting to and from school and less able and confident cyclists.
“It would enable access to green spaces and connection for people with disabilities. Currently there is no disabled access to areas such as Speckled Wood or easy to traverse, non-circuitous routes in this hilly area. The greenway will provide a suitable surface and decent sized pathway for everyone.
“There would be significant environmental benefits in reducing car and bus use.
“The health benefits of walking and being in nature are numerous. Physical health and mobility are improved, as is mental health.
“There is considerable community support for the Ore Valley Greenway and the detailed design project for the Speckled Wood section of the Ore Valley Greenway demonstrates that the route is viable and construction costs are quite reasonable (approximately £100,000).
“Other sections of the Ore Valley Greenway are no more demanding and therefore very likely to have comparable costs. This should allow a £1 million investment from the LEP fund to cover all sections of the greenway route in Ore Valley.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We are committed to improving cycle routes around Hastings and are currently reviewing a number of schemes identified in the Hastings Cycling and Walking Strategy.
“With unprecedented cuts in funding from Government, we have to focus our limited resources carefully and prioritise schemes with our partners that we are confident are deliverable.
“We recognise the importance of working with communities when identifying, designing and delivering transport infrastructure projects and we will work with the Hastings Greenway Group and other partners when we carry out a planned review of the proposals for the Ore Valley Greenway route this year.”
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