Greens Welcome News On Improvements to Active Travel in the Somer Valley

Bath & North East Somerset Council has taken the next steps on a £1.5million project to improve walking, wheeling and cycling options in Midsomer Norton and Westfield.

The Midsomer Norton & Westfield Walking, Wheeling & Cycling Links (WWCL) scheme aims to improve travel choices by providing safer and more connected active travel routes, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. Bath and NE Somerset Council has now approved the next steps in the scheme to create safer and more connected cycle routes in the area. The total allocation for the scheme amounts to £1.5million, which is made up of CRSTS (City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement) grant from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority with support from the council and developer contributions.

The project consists of two main elements:

  • Silver Street to Fosseway (Route 1 of the Somer Valley routes, forming part of the previous Somer Valley Links 2023 public engagement)
  • Midsomer Norton to Westfield (Route 2 of the Somer Valley routes, forming part of the previous Somer Valley Links 2023 public engagement).

The project will connect to other walking and cycling routes around Midsomer Norton. These include:

  • Improved cycle links between High Street, Midsomer Norton to Third Avenue, Westfield to the existing Norton-Radstock greenway with a new shared use (for walking, wheeling and cycling) route on First Avenue, Second Avenue, Excelsior Terrace, the B3355 and Charlton Road.
  • New routes between Chaucer Road and Eagle Drive, Chaucer Road and Kingsley Road, Hazel Terrace and Woodpecker Avenue, plus Longfellow Road and Kingsley Road.
  • Narrow junctions on side roads along the route to assist crossing movements.
  • New pedestrian crossings where the pavement and road are at the same level.
  • Priority for people cycling on Charlton Road in order to reduce vehicle speeds.
  • A shared use path between a new housing development in Silver Street to Charlton Road (supported by a S106 contribution).

Green Party town councillor for Radstock Dom Tristram said, “Any progress towards improved infrastructure for active travel in the area is always welcome. This will make a real difference to the lives of people in Radstock, Midsomer Norton and the surrounding areas, making it easier and safer to get around by bike, foot, or wheelchair. However, we can celebrate this progress while recognising that more could always be done, and many routes in our towns are still difficult or dangerous for these travel options.

“We urge Bath and NE Somerset Council to think about how our communities can be properly connected so that fewer people feel they must use their cars. While these small steps are great, the council is at this very moment consulting on building more than a thousand new houses in Radstock in locations where massively increased car use is almost inevitable”.

Green Party town councillor for Radstock Liam Kirby added, “A walk to school or a cycle to the shops is always a more fun, pleasant option than the same journey made by car, and the health benefits of Active Travel are well researched and documented. It’s therefore great to see any work to improve safety and access for walking, wheeling and cycling. With the legacy of mining and railways evident in the Somer Valley’s plethora of old train and coal wagon routes, there are many opportunities to easily expand these improvements into a network of traffic-free routes between our various towns and villages. I hope we can find more ways to join up our communities, to the benefit of everyone’s health and wellbeing ”.

The Midsomer Norton & Westfield WWCL scheme is part of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) programme which aims to enable travel choices by delivering interventions that encourage public transport and active travel – walking, wheeling, and cycling – across the region.

To access full funding for delivery, the council will now begin the process of developing a Full Business Case (FBC) and detailed design for the project. This will include further public consultation during 2024 with construction anticipated to start in 2025.

The Midsomer Norton & Westfield WWCL project is a part of the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement, secured by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, and funded by UK Government.

More information on the Somer Valley Links consultation that took place last year can be found here.

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