Transport minister approves new plans for improved cycle routes and cycle centre in the New Forest

Cycling near bank web

Published Thursday 13 November 2014

The Department for Transport (DfT) has accepted new plans to improve or create 30km of cycling routes, and develop a cycling centre in the New Forest.

The approval comes after plans for the UK’s first rural bike hire system were rejected by members of the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) in August. They were concerned about the financial sustainability of the £2m scheme, including the decreasing likelihood of attracting a major sponsor. 

Six alternative projects were put forward by members in September to improve cycling routes and facilities in and around the New Forest, and encourage more regular cycling among visitors and residents. 

Transport minister Robert Goodwill has now approved four of the six schemes. The minister also reiterated support for a family cycling centre in Brockenhurst. A previous proposal by two local businesses for a new centre on the north side of the rail station was withdrawn earlier this year.

Cyclexperience Limited now aims to develop the new centre on unused land to the south of station. Subject to planning approval, the local bike hire company will receive £150,000 of funding towards the £301,000 centre which will create at least two new jobs and safeguard 22 others.

The four newly approved projects include:

  • £140,000 for smoother, more compacted gravel surfaces on 25km of existing off-road cycle tracks through the heart of the New Forest. This will make journeys more comfortable for local and visiting cyclists and will be delivered by the Forestry Commission (FC) 
  • £185,000 for a new 2km off-road cycle route from Marchwood to Eling, connecting the National Park with Southampton and Totton which will be delivered by Hampshire County Council (HCC). 
  • £168,000 for 3km of bridleway improvements for more comfortable access to Fawley, Minstead and Emery Down, to be delivered by HCC and Countryside Services
  • £30,000 for a new 0.5km off-road cycle track at Ringwood, which will form part of the popular Castleman Way cycle route linking the New Forest with Poole. This will be delivered by New Forest District Council. 

All four projects and the cycle centre must be delivered by September 2015.

However, the DfT did not accept two alternative cycling projects:

  • Improvements for cyclists on the popular scenic Rhinefield and Bolderwood Ornamental Drives north of Brockenhurst, including upgrading road edges, signage and a crossing at the busy A35  
  • Developing cycling facilities for one million visitors at Moors Valley Country Park including expanding its cycle centre, improving routes for mountain bikers,  and upgrading its cycling offer for novice cyclists and people with disabilities.

The DfT will reallocate this funding to other cycling projects at national parks and cities. This means just over £2m of the £3.6m originally awarded to the New Forest in August 2013 will be spent locally. 

Funding for the cycle centre in Brockenhurst and the four newly approved schemes are part of a wider programme of works which will 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 business 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
  • 10 new jobs and safeguard at least 22 others.

Link to Department for Transport statement

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the NFNPA, said: ‘Our aim has always been to improve cycle routes and facilities to make it easier, safer and more comfortable for people to cycle to and around the New Forest for work or pleasure. 

‘We’re very pleased that four of the six alternative cycling projects have been approved by the DfT and that over £2m of the cycle funding will be spent locally. We’re obviously disappointed that two of the projects were not given the go-ahead but we respect the DfT’s decision.

'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.’  

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About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

• Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.

• Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

• Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:

Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646639

Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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