Ambitious plans to enhance cycling and walking along the North Tyneside coast could receive a multi-million pound boost in March.
The council ran a consultation in October 2021 asking people to have their say on proposals for a permanent segregated, two-way safe space between the North Shields Fish Quay and St Mary’s Lighthouse, to encourage sustainable and active forms of travel.
The Sea Front Sustainable Route (SFSR) will build on the popularity of a temporary pop-up route that was implemented in summer 2020, while also seeking to address some issues that were identified.
The route along the seafront will be reduced to 20 mph and have additional traffic calming measures, including new raised crossings making it easier to access the coast.
It will make the seafront a safer and more pleasant place to walk and cycle and increase the number of people using sustainable forms of transport for a healthier lifestyle, while also helping to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality.
Footpaths will be resurfaced along the length of the route to enhance the experience of taking a stroll along North Tyneside’s award-winning coastline, as will large sections of the highway.
The council is now reviewing 11,000 comments and is awaiting a decision on funding from Active Travel England, having submitted a bid for £3.5 in August 2021. A decision was deferred until March 2022 to allow the newly formed Government agency, Active Travel England to give their verdict on the proposals.
Confirmation of funding will allow detailed design work to proceed, and the council will carry out further consultation on the preferred option in the summer.
Councillor Sandra Graham, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “These proposals will ensure the council is able to provide a scheme of the highest quality, one that we can all be very proud of, in keeping with our previous investment at the coast.
“We place a high priority on encouraging sustainable and active travel and making it safer, easier, more attractive, and inclusive for people to walk and cycle on their journeys in support of our ambitious 2030 net zero carbon target.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation. Our officers are analysing the feedback now and we are optimistic about receiving the full £3.5m that we bid for in August 2021. Active Travel England have been very impressed with our proposals, and we hope that we will soon be able to push ahead with the detailed design work.
“It’s important to stress that no final decisions have been made, and we will consult all stakeholders again this summer over the preferred options.”
In July 2019, the council declared a climate emergency and set a target to reduce the carbon footprint of the authority and the borough by 50% by 2023. But the council has already achieved a 52% reduction and brought forward its carbon net-zero target by twenty years to 2030.
The new route will support those aims even in the construction phase by using materials with highly recycled elements and a minimal carbon impact.
Carbon offsetting measures such as planting and soft landscaping will be implemented along the route.
Construction could begin as early as September 2022 and will be carefully phased to avoid disruption during the busiest periods.