Strawberry Line’s extension boost
PUBLISHED: 15:04 01 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:04 01 June 2016
A long sought-after extension to the Strawberry Line could be a step closer, according to one of the men behind it, after a dispute with Somerset County Council came to an end.
The council has this week given the organisers of the Strawberry Line Project its endorsement to extend the line – which currently runs from Yatton to Cheddar – so it would reach as far as Wells.
There had previously been friction between the council and the Strawberry Line Association, which has been planning the extension, after the authority refused to submit a planning application before the association could raise sufficient funds to extend the path.
A petition was set up last year to gauge public opinion for the extension and attracted 5,100 signatures in total, before it was presented to councillors at a meeting last week.
Richard Jones, the association’s secretary, told the Mercury it would be much easier to apply for grant funds now it has the council’s backing, and that more concrete positive news could follow.
He said: “When we apply for funding the body will always look at what kind of support there is.
“Originally there had been disappointment on a large scale a few years ago when it was insisted money had to be in place before permission was granted.
“It was a bit of a deadlock with the council, and it was important to move on and become friends again.
“We had to demonstrate the overwhelming public support for the project. When it was launched I didn’t know how many people would sign it but it was humbling to hit that 5,000 barrier.
“Anyone we apply to will see the petition and the support from the council, which will allow us to attract more money and will make applications a lot easier.”
Mr Jones added the next step would be to approach landowners along the proposed stretch about leasing sections of the path along to Wells.
And if proposed extensions on other paths are completed, this would create an 85-mile stretch of pathway running as far as Bristol in the north and Bath to the east, while the Strawberry Line would also be lengthened to the west to run as far as Clevedon.
Mr Jones said he was confident that section of the line would be completed in the coming years, with Yatton’s significant housing development plans including provisions for cycle paths.
He said: “The development at Arnolds Way will have a cycle path from the existing Strawberry Line entrance and North Somerset Council are very pro-active on encouraging cycling, so we are concentrating our focus more on the Somerset side as this is progressing nicely.
“It’s all looking promising, and hopefully we will have some very exciting news to announce in the near future.”