Hopes that public inquiry can be avoided

The prospect of a new walking and cycling route in Harrogate has moved a step closer, as the date for the public inquiry into the Bilton to Ripley bridleway has now been set for February 16 next year.

 The inquiry will allow a planning inspector to decide whether the proposed new bridleway should be built or not. The new route will connect Bilton, on the northern edge of Harrogate, to Ripley an historic village 4km north of the town, providing a fantastic new route for local residents and tourists to enjoy the countryside and access the major tourist attractions of Ripley Castle and Nidderdale.

 The scheme is being developed by Harrogate Borough Council and Sustrans, the charity that enables people to make more of their every day journeys by foot, bike and public transport. It is part of the Connect2 national project, creating new walking and cycling routes across the UK, and funded by part of a £50million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, awarded to Sustrans after a public vote in 2007.

 Scheme Manager for Sustrans, Claire Wright, said, "We are looking forward to being able to get this scheme off the ground and provide an excellent new walking and cycling facility that will be of major benefit to people in the Harrogate area."

 Supporters of the scheme are hoping that negotiations with objectors will be successful in avoiding the expense of a public inquiry

Cllr Michael Harrison, of Harrogate Borough Council and chair of the Connect2 Steering Group, added, "Assuming we get a positive result from the inquiry then we are well on the way to seeing this project completed."