An ever-growing project group of local volunteers and enthusiasts has got together having formed a formal entity (Community Interest Company) with which to spearhead this project. We have formed a working partnership with the cycle charity Sustrans. They are experienced in delivering this type of project (recently they opened the Camel Cycle route near Padstow, Cornwall).
Sustrans’ standard approach is to produce a detailed feasibility study – including costs and methodology. The feasibility study will:
- Identify walking and cycling requirements for the railway corridor and establish a connected and coherent preferred route alignment should the railway formation be unusable.
- Identify key destinations beyond the site boundary, up to a maximum of 3km from the site centre,
- Undertake an options assessment where use of the road network is unavoidable and undertake to highlight key connections from the route into Leominster, Bromyard and connect into the existing Worcester routes.
- Assess the route alignment for impact on the current rights of way network and identify key links between the new route and existing rights of way networks.
- Identify the scope of the project whilst proposing a workable strategy that the group can pursue. Whether this is to approach the County organisations or applying for Capital Grants with which to undertake the structural work. It is by this process that Sustrans can enlighten the Group through its experience of successful projects elsewhere.
The feasibility study will cost £31,080 (inclusive of VAT).
Fundraising and support
The Group’s initial aim is to try and increase local awareness of our ambitions, informing landowners and residents from Leominster through Bromyard and onto Worcester. We feel that gaining local community support is essential. And of course, we will need to engage constructively with local landowners. The prospect of a safe 25-mile cycle route would bring joy and relief to many a parent whose children wish to test their cycling skills. The same would apply to walkers and horse riders looking for a worthwhile distance within which they can exercise in peace and safety.
Through popular support we feel we will be more able to persuade the Parish Councillors, Town Councillors, and County Councillors to share in our vision. This can be done by extensive use of social media (Facebook Twitter etc), local papers, presentation meetings at Town and Parish Councils. In fact, many exploratory meetings have already taken place – but we need to approach these formal groups with definitive plans and strategies.
As with any group we need fundraising. This is our next key task.
We have funded the creation of a formal group (Worcester Bromyard Leominster Greenway CIC) through modest subscriptions levied on the Members – we aim to have 30 Members at £20 pa subscription. This should cover most running costs if only because we have a wide skills base that can provide free advice and support for professional and business-related services.
For the larger costs that is needed to fund the feasibility study (and thereby define the future strategy of the Group) we aim to approach those that have a financial, political, or reputational interest in our project. They will include:
- Parish councils
- Town councils
- County councils
- Local Businesses
- Funding bodies such as Heritage Lottery Fund
- Local philanthropic organisations.
- Individual supporters through crowdsourcing
It is important to recognise that this is the first stage of what may be a long and complex path to create what we believe will be a very worthwhile Community project. When the route is built, people will wonder why it was not undertaken earlier!
We also recognise that even if the feasibility stage were reached and even if the capital grants were made available, we would be looking for cash strapped County Councils to maintain the route in the future. Therefore, popular local and political support is essential, but this can only progress if we can put forward a credible working strategy, through Sustrans, based upon the experience they have gained on other similar and successful projects.
There are Government grants out there for such projects that have enormous community benefit, but these grants are allocated based upon popular support.
Just recently, a new £2 billion initiative was announced by the Government, partly in response to the social changes arising from the Covid epidemic, but also to promote sustainable transport links
As part of the Government strategy put forward in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy published in April 2017, they state that:
1.14 Our objectives are that by 2020, we will:
- increase cycling activity, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made
- increase walking activity, where walking activity is measured as the total number of walking stages per person
- reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on England’s roads, measured as the number of fatalities and serious injuries per billion miles cycled
- increase the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 that usually walk to school
1.15 Further to this, we have set the following aims and target, respectively, to 2025:
- We aim to double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of cycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages in 2025, and will work towards developing the evidence base over the next year.
- We aim to increase walking activity, where walking activity is measured as the total number of walking stages per person per year, to 300 stages per person per year in 2025, and will work towards developing the evidence base over the next year.
- We will increase the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 that usually walk to school from 49% in 2014 to 55% in 2025.
It would be a missed opportunity if this part of Herefordshire and Worcestershire missed out on this initiative – the money will only go to London otherwise…!
Make sure you mention your support for this project each time you bump into your Parish, Town, and Country Councillors. We have already met many of them, but you hold the key through popular consent.
Make sure you tell your MP of your wish for this project to succeed, they may even put it in their manifesto if there is enough social media chatter about this.
Your buy-in to this project is the only way it will succeed