The Exe Estuary Trail, officially opened last November, is to be extended into the centre of the coastal town of Dawlish thanks to £1.3 million from the Coastal Community Fund operated by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
The route, which took a decade to develop, currently covers 16 miles from Exmouth to Dawlish Warren and was officially opened last November. The new extension, which will be completed in phases between autumn 2015 and late 2016, will link it to Dawlish railway station.
Environment minister Dan Rogerson visited the Devon town today to see first-hand works carried out since it hit the national headlines when it was buffeted by storms early last year.
He said: “Dawlish already has so much to offer and this new path for walkers and cyclists can only build on this – linking the town to the Exe Estuary trail and helping to make the town a year round destination.
“We want to see our seaside towns flourish and this money will enable Dawlish to develop its tourism, create jobs for residents and so build a stronger local economy.”
The funding was secured by Devon County Council, which had the support of Teignbridge District Council, Dawlish Town Council and Sustrans, with the project first proposed by the Transition Dawlish group, which campaigned for the route to be brought into the town centre.
As part of the scheme, which it is hoped will encourage more visitors, cycle hire facilities will be set up at Dawlish Warren, and there will be new cycle parking facilities at Dawlish railway station and elsewhere in the town.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member with responsibility for cycling said: “This funding is vitally important for the benefits it will deliver to local businesses in Dawlish, and along the entire length of the Exe Estuary Trail, by encouraging visitors into the town centre and at Dawlish Warren.
“The scheme is also important as part of the infrastructure needed to enable the planned growth of Dawlish, and for the increased levels of recreation, fitness and health, for local residents.”
Sustrans regional manager Paola Spivach commented: “We’re delighted to have secured funding to extend the Exe Estuary Trail as part of Sustrans National Cycle Network 2 through the Warren into Dawlish.
“Cycling infrastructure offers outstanding value for money, and one of the best aspects of this new route is that it will be a great resource for both local commuters and new visitors alike. We look forward to getting stuck in with the local community to make this happen.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.