Chew Valley walking and cycling trail plans move a step forward

Chew Valley lake in West of England

Plans to create a new 2.7km walking and cycling trail around Chew Valley Lake are set to take a step forward if councillors approve a funding proposal.

Joint cabinet members for Transport Services, Councillor Joanna Wright and Councillor Neil Butters, are being recommended to agree to change the provisional capital programme item for Chew Valley Recreational Trail.

A single member decision report says the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has agreed £1,005,800 from its Investment Fund to deliver this project, which is one of several schemes under a regional Green Infrastructure programme, to support the West of England Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy. Bristol Water which owns the reservoir has allocated funds and the council has secured a £506,685.00 Rural Development Programme for England grant.

The project would include:

  • The construction of new 840m off-road shared use path between Woodford Lodge and Walley Lane.
  • The realignment of the road over the dam which will widen the existing footway to provide a segregated cycle/pedestrian path and reduce the road width and speed improving road safety.
  • The construction of a shared use path between the dam to the north and Hollowbrook Road including replacing an existing narrow footbridge (total length 1.5km).
  • The proposed route surface is an all-weather route that would allow year-round use.
  • Creating a trail that links to existing cycle and walking routes and is a safer route between communities with the reduction of traffic speeds on the dam.

Councillor Joanna Wright and Councillor Neil Butters said:

We welcome this report and will consider the recommendations before us. The report before us is the next step towards making this project possible. There are other milestones to be achieved before the trail construction can be confirmed. However, if all goes to plan construction work could start later this year.

The Chew Valley Recreational Trail would give greater access to wonderful green space and has benefits both for people’s health and the natural habitat. The scheme encourages more sustainable leisure activities – walking and cycling in a very special landscape that we want to protect.

Councillor Joanna Wright and Councillor Neil Butters

The Chew Valley has international designation status and is a Special Protection Area and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said:

Tim Bowles, Mayor of the West of England profile photo

I want to see more people cycling and walking in the West of England and creating enjoyable places get outside is a great way to start the habit. So I was very pleased that the Combined Authority was able to pledge more than £1m to support the Chew Valley Lake Recreational Trail.

It may also help with our region’s recovery from Covid-19; the mental health impacts of the pandemic have shown how much people need to access recreational facilities and nature, especially in the rural areas.

Tim Bowles West of England Mayor

The report says consultations have been carried out. As part of the project Sustrans organised Community Consultation in June 2018 and produced a consultation summary report July 2018 that showed 92% of respondents supported the scheme. The two reasons given for supporting the proposal were enabling access to lake and natural resource and enabling more active travel.