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Active travel priorities agreed

Published Tuesday 15 November, 2022
Last updated on Tuesday 15 November, 2022

Councillors have agreed their priorities for cycling and walking improvements in Swale which can now be used to bid for funding from the Government’s Active Travel Fund.

Swale Borough Council’s proposals for improving cycling and walking infrastructure in Faversham, Sittingbourne and Sheerness town centres were discussed at the council’s environment committee meeting earlier this month (3 Nov).

In Faversham, the new infrastructure could better connect the more isolated areas of North Preston, West Faversham, Love Lane, Millfield and Lower Road to the schools, businesses, shops, train station and doctor’s surgeries near the town centre.

In Sheerness, the traffic free path that runs from Barton’s Point, along the outskirts of Sheerness and down towards Brielle Way, could be used to build a walking and cycling network that connects the town centre, seafront, Queenborough, Halfway and Minster.

In Sittingbourne, a walking and cycling network would better connect the town centre with nearby residential and industrial areas.

Cllr Julian Saunders, chair of the environment committee at the council, said:

“At this early stage, we’re looking into how we can create cycling and walking networks that connect our more deprived areas, reduces carbon, and saves money by giving people the opportunity to move around our towns without the use of a car.

“Improving infrastructure could include town wide 20mph, bus gates, roundabouts with segregated cycle and pedestrian lanes, increased pavement space, raised crossings, pedestrianisation, safer crossing points, cycle tracks and parking, better wayfinding, and station accessibility.

“The concept of more active travel in Swale is an exciting one, and these draft proposals are very much community-led.

“We’ve been talking with town and parish councils all year about what would benefit their residents, and earlier this summer we carried out a survey that mapped out 400 everyday trips that could be car-free.

“An everyday trip could be leaving home to pick the kids up from school and then visiting the high street before heading home.

“We’ve seen that the key to a successful bid is to design ambitious, high-quality schemes that are safe for everyone to use, activate change, and create a connected network that reallocates road space in favour of walking and cycling.”

Cllr Tim Valentine, vice chair of the environment committee at the council, said:

“The Government has allocated £460 million for this round of their Active Travel Fund which gives local councils the opportunity to bid for the funding needed to make these priorities a reality. However, we have a long way to go.

“Once we’ve finalised our plans, we’ll submit them, along with other borough councils in Kent, to Kent County Council for consideration. They will then decide which proposals to take forward to bid for this round of funding.

“The good news is that, even if we’re not chosen this time, once we have our plans finalised, we can apply for funding in the future.”