Cyclists at a seaside resort in North Kent will soon be able to enjoy a new traffic-free route after full planning permission for the project was granted by Kent County Council this week.
The route will link All Saints Close and Northwood Road in Whitstable, including sections of a disused railway line, and will help complete a 12-mile shared use cycling and pedestrian promenade and greenway around the coastal town, famous for its Whitstable Native oysters, and which has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years as a bolt-hole for London’s art set.
The project, being developed jointly by Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council, Sustrans and The Crab and Winkle Line Trust, will also tie into the Crab and Winkle Way, the Viking Coastal Trail, and provide a coastal path from Whitstable to Reculver, to be known as the Oyster Bay Trail. As part of the scheme, a green corridor will be provided, with thousands of shrubs and trees planted to provide a habitat for local wildlife. Plans also include two new bridges, subject to planning permission, to link sections of the route, which will go over Teynham Road, Old Bridge Road and the railway line..
David Young, Project Coordinator at Sustrans South East, said that the organisation was “delighted” at the planning permission, “ as this will help complete a virtually traffic-free walking and cycling route on the Crab and Winkle Way from Canterbury to Whitstable and the coast,” adding, “we will be shortly lodging a planning application for new bridges spanning Old Bridge Road, the Railway Line and Teynham Road”
He continued, “Whitstable residents will have an opportunity to review the new bridge designs and comment and have input prior to the planning application being lodged with Canterbury Planning Department and a public exhibition of the Bridge designs is being planned for Feb/March".
Nick Chard, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, also welcomed the scheme, saying: “The county council is keen to encourage residents who are cycling and walking for good health. This new route makes good use of the old Crab and Winkle Way. It will help residents and visitors alike to discover more of our special Kent countryside."
The project will be part funded by £500,000 made available by Sustrans from the £50 million Big Lottery Fund it won following a public vote in 2007.
One of the aims of the project is also to promote sustainable transport by giving locals a traffic-free means of travelling to school or work, a point emphasised by Simon Pratt, Regional Director South East for Sustrans, who said: "We are very pleased to be able to improve this land for local residents and to make it accessible for all. It is only one part of this scheme but a vital part of the wider aim to complete the historic Crab and Winkle Way and make it easier for people in Whitstable to make everyday journeys by foot or by bike."
Marcial Boo, Chair, The Crab and Winkle Line Trust, claimed that the new route would also provide a figurative link between the town’s past and future, commenting: "This has been a long time coming but is a great step forward - the Crab and Winkle Way is a piece of Whitstable's history and this will not only help us celebrate our past but will benefit the current and future residents of our town."
Local cycling campaigners were similarly enthusiastic, with Steve Fawke, Chair of SPOKES East Kent Cycle Campaign, adding: “I am delighted with the success of this application and I'm looking forward to the great benefits this will bring to residents, visitors and the environment. I also see this as a wonderful example that I hope will be copied in many more places."
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