By our editorial team
The South Downs National Park, together with Brighton & Hove City Council, East and West Sussex County Councils have been awarded ‘Linking Communities’ funding from the Department for Transport to improve access to the national park.
More than £5 million will be invested across the region as part of a vision to establish a network of cycle routes into and around the South Downs National Park area which includes Hampshire, as well as Sussex.
The money will be spent on helping people access all the National Park has to offer in sustainable and active ways.
Brighton & Hove City Council is to receive £337,000 to improve the route along Ditchling Road for adjacent communities and people from the city centre to access the National Park by bike, foot and bus.
Councillor Pete West, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “We’re delighted to be a successful partner in the bid with the South Downs National Park. The park is a wonderful place, and a real breathing space for all the city’s residents.”
Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, commented on the grant: “This is a great success for the South Downs National Park and for all those who love to walk or cycle through it. The South Downs is England’s most visited and most densely populated National Park and this investment is designed to provide a high quality cycling experience for cyclists of all abilities, and to complement and give access to the existing network of advisory and off-road routes.
The National Park Authority has many plans to create new and safer routes, both for commuters and for people cycling for pleasure. Now we have the money to put those plans into practice. We will be working closely with the local highways authorities and other organisations to take full advantage of this major new funding.”
From 19 August, communities around Ditchling Road will be invited to take part in consultation about improving cycle and pedestrian facilities along Ditchling Road which will also benefit the many runners who use the route.
The proposals cover a 2.5km length along Ditchling Road, across Coldean Lane and into Stanmer Park.
A separate shared cycle and pedestrian gravel path is being proposed along with a speed limit reduction.
Councillor West added: “This new safe and attractive route would complement our improving city cycle network and help meet the growing demand for cycling from people of all ages particularly children. What a wonderful way for them to get out to our fantastic new national park!
“We also anticipate that these proposals will have a positive impact on reducing speed and crucially, road casualties in the area.”
The council is emailing interest groups and stakeholders this week and residents can take part in the consultation at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ditchlingroadSDNP from Monday, 19th August, or call the transport planning team on (01273) 290487 for more information.
Closing date for responses to the consultation is Sunday, 8th September.