A planning application to transform the National Cycle Network in the Midlands has been submitted by Sustrans. The aim of the project is to re-route a section of Route 41, also known as the Lias Line, taking it off-road onto a completely new purpose-built track.
When complete, around 8.3km of on-road provision between Leamington Spa and Rugby will be replaced with 6.18km of very good off-road track.
A planning application to transform the National Cycle Network in the county has been submitted by walking and cycling charity Sustrans.
The aim of the project is to re-route a section of Route 41, also known as the Lias Line, taking it off-road onto a completely new purpose-built track.
The work will help make the route more accessible for everyone, whether they’re walking, on a bike, riding a horse, using a wheelchair or pushing a pram.
In the longer term, there will also be work undertaken to improve connectivity into nearby villages.
Reusing the old Railway
Delivery of the project is expected to commence in April 2021 and will be split into three phases.
Phase one will cost around £4.5m and will see the creation of a completely new sealed surface off-road stretch of track.
This will follow the ‘mainline’ of the old Lias Line railway route creating a more direct route between the villages of Offchurch and Birdingbury.
As part of the work, a new bridge over the A423 at Marton will be built to replace an existing bridge which is nearing the end of its life.
This will ensure the new stretch remains, safe and accessible for many years to come.
Subject to funding, the second phase of the work will make use of the old railway ‘branch line’ to create a new off-road track to improve connectivity with Long Itchington and other nearby villages.
The third and final phase will follow the branch line route south to the Stockton reservoir.
When complete, around 8.3km of on-road provision between Leamington Spa and Rugby will be replaced with 6.18km of very good off-road track, improving the safety of the route.
The route will also become Warwickshire’s longest traffic-free greenway and provide a mix of leisure and commuter activity.
Ready for change
The Lias Line was identified as very poor when Sustrans reviewed the National Cycle Network last year.
The ‘Paths for Everyone’ review found that much of the off-road sections were overgrown with a poor surface.
The existing route will also be severed by HS2.
The improvements have been made possible thanks to a £20m funding package from the Department of Transport to improve the network.
Working with Local Authorities
Sustrans has submitted the planning application to the three local authorities where the route passes through (Warwick District Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Rugby Borough Council).
Stratford will take the lead on the application and will consult with residents and the other councils before reaching a final determination.
An exciting project
Commenting on the planning application Carmen Szeto, Sustrans Senior Network Developer, said;
“The National Cycle Network belongs to everyone and it can help all of us to lead happier, healthier lives.
"That’s why I’m so excited by this project which will transform cycling and walking in Warwickshire.
"Clearly, we have been delayed by the pandemic but we’re now back on track and raring to go.
"Throughout this project, we’ve worked closely with the local community to ensure we have a project which works for everyone.
"So we want everyone to have their say on this application so that the result is something truly special which we can all be proud of.”
Connecting the community
Commenting on the planning application Long Itchington Parish Council said;
“The parish council is in full support of the “Lias Line” upgrade that will take further sections of Sustrans route 41 off-road and is delighted to hear that the project is now moving to the planning approval stage.
"The purpose-built track will provide an excellent facility to the surrounding area and will give improved opportunities to residents for safe cycling and walking.
"We are hopeful that the Lias Line improvements will provide better connectivity for Long Itchington to the National Cycle Network.”