Funding has been secured to create more walking and cycling spaces across County Durham and residents are being encouraged to have their say on the plans.

Durham County Council has been successful in applying for £650,000 from the government’s Active Travel Fund, for an ambitious scheme to create an active travel corridor in Newton Aycliffe.

The Emergency Active Travel fund was announced in May, with the government making £2 billion of funding available for walking and cycling to help change the way that people travel in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The council was awarded almost £400,000 in the first tranche of funding, allowing it to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in and around Durham City, making it easier for people to get out on foot or on their bikes.

Now that the second tranche of funding has been secured, the council hope to create an active travel corridor alongside the A167 between Moore Lane and St Cuthbert’s Way, with links to Aycliffe Village.

Proposals include a wider footpath for pedestrians and a separate two-way cycle lane.

On completion, the scheme will also become part of the Great North Cycleway, a long-distance national cycle route linking Blyth to Darlington.

The council has launched a consultation for residents and businesses to have their say on the proposals, with work expected to begin in late spring and be completed later in the year.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The pandemic has changed the way many people exercise and with residents encouraged to stay local, more and more families have been exercising together, both on foot and on bike.

“Not only is this for good for their health, but the creation of more walking and cycling spaces can benefit the environment and local communities. Now that the consultation is live, I hope as many residents as possible get involved and have their say so that we can make their outdoor experiences positive, enjoyable and beneficial to their health.”

Kerina Clark, Chair of Aycliffe Business Park Community, said: “Improved walking and cycling infrastructure is excellent news for those commuting to work, offering them a healthier travel alternative. The wellbeing of our workforce, both physically and mentally, is something that I know our businesses on Aycliffe Business Park are incredibly supportive of and anything that will contribute and support this is welcomed.

“The active travel corridor will help commuters to feel more safe and confident when it comes to cycling and walking in a busy area, hopefully encouraging more people to travel to work at Aycliffe Business Park on foot or by bike.”

Barry Knevitt, volunteer cycle leader of Cycle Durham, said: “We welcome any infrastructure developments that would encourage people to lead a more active lifestyle. Cycling has many benefits, to mental health as well as fitness levels, and it is fantastic to see proposals which would help people to be more active and further enjoy the outdoors.

“The infrastructure would also support the development of grassroots sports, providing benefits for the entire community.”

Residents and businesses can take part in the consultation by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/consultation
The deadline for comments is 5pm on Sunday, 28 February.

A virtual walk through of the scheme will also be taking place at 10am on Tuesday, 23 February. To register an interest in attending, email activetravel@durham.gov.uk

More information about other schemes funded through the Active Travel Grant is available at www.durham.gov.uk/activetravel