Wheels in motion at last as Saffron Walden cycle path gets final sign-off

Supporters of Access Walden gather with Councillor Alistair Walters outside the Uttlesford District

Supporters of Access Walden gather with Councillor Alistair Walters outside the Uttlesford District Council offices in December, when the cycle path was granted 'in principle' approval. - Credit: Archant

A long-awaited cycle scheme in Saffron Walden has finally been given the green light.

Work can now go ahead on the Wenden Road cycle path between Saffron Walden and Audley End station after it was given the final sign-off by Essex County Council (ECC) yesterday (Tuesday).

The scheme has been campaigned for since the 80s, and was finally granted ‘in principle’ approval last December - but the final sign-off by ECC was still needed.

“Let’s hope this is just the start of a new era in active travel in Uttlesford,” said a spokesman for Access Walden, which was founded four years ago to implement the cycle path and campaign for better provisions for cycling in the district.

“However it has taken over thirty years, two failed processes before this one, and a popular public campaign over the last four years, just to secure the scheme.

“So, if Uttlesford District Council and ECC are serious about investing in creating a cycle culture in the district, as stated with their recently published cycle strategy, and truly creating a legacy to the Tour de France, they need to draw up an ambitious delivery plan for it.”

“We are pleased to see this project move forward,” said Councillor Eddie Johnson, ECC’s cabinet member for highways maintenance and small scheme delivery, who signed off the scheme.

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“It will enable residents and visitors to Saffron Walden to enjoy cycling and benefit from the partnership between Essex County Council and Uttlesford District Council.”

Cllr Alastair Walters, Chairman of the Local Highways Panel, added: “We are delighted that at long last this project has been signed off by the relevant portfolio holder at County Hall.

“Cycling is becoming increasingly popular and this safe and accessible cycle path I am sure will be of great benefit to the community.”

No date has been set for work to start, but Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has agreed to make a £200,000 repayable fund available so that work on the cycle path can start as soon as possible.

UDC leader, Cllr Howard Rolfe, said it was a “significant moment”.

“The Wenden Road cycle and pedestrian path has been discussed for years and finally it has the go ahead.

“UDC has also recently published its cycle strategy for the district and this scheme is a founding piece of that plan. We are underway and look forward to having the opportunity to develop further options for cyclists in the district.

“Cycling is a popular recreational and sporting activity and we must keep building on the legacy of the Tour de France.”