We support and respect the South Devon Railway as an excellent local business, that enhances our local community.
Our hope, is that we can work with the railway to find a consensus on how to share the footbridge, thus improving the transport links for cyclists and walkers and helping to ensure that the National Cycle Network does not bypass Totnes. We believe that if the security concerns of the railway can be addressed then in the long term, the cycle path will benefit both the railway and the Rare Breeds Farm.
Access to both attractions from Totnes is over a footbridge that runs parallel to the main line railway bridge over the river Dart.
The footbridge was completed in 1993 with substantial funding from various local authorities and is now the property of the South Devon Railway. Our route would need SDR to provide permission for the footbridge to be shared between cyclists and walkers.
We recognise that SDR management has real concerns about the prospect of opening the bridge to a new cycle and walking route. We urge SDR to work with us to find a way to address the security concerns and make this proposed route a reality. To kick-start the process, we have attempted to formulate our own solutions to the concerns set out by SDR – please see SDR concerns and our proposals
The South Devon Railway has issued an official statement, through its newsletter to members in their Spring 2011 edition of “Bulliver” which reads as follows…
“Some of you will be aware from various sources, not least media reports, of a proposal to link Totnes with the National Cycle Network with a new cycle path to Littlehempston village. The initial plans show a route via our footbridge and the narrow private lane owned by South West Water. I recently met the local MP, Sarah Wollaston, and reaffirmed to her that whilst supportive of the principle of cycle paths we were concerned that the planned route was less than ideal on both safety and security grounds. The bridge was designed only for pedestrian use some 15 years ago and we do not believe a mix of cyclists and families, particularly those with young children, in high volumes on the narrow deck during our peak season is a workable option. We are also concerned that the bridge would have to open 24 hours a day, or at the very least extended opening hours, which runs the risk of increased vandalism already a problem for us and the Rare Breeds Centre. The alternative of high security fencing surrounding the site would, we believe, present an unacceptable prison-like image. We have suggested an alternative route alongside the river with a new crossing further towards Woodville which would give an altogether more pleasant cycle ride whilst still meeting the objectives of the route. It is important to emphasise that we are not anti-cyclist and we do want to support green tourism particularly in Totnes but we want a route that is complementary to existing residents and business and not detrimental to the local economy.”
Alan Taylor – South Devon Railway Trust – Bulliver no 191 Spring 2011
The bridge cost £173,000 to build in 1993 which was made of payments from the following…
- Devon County Council
- South Hams District Council
- Dartmoor National Park
- South Devon Railway Trust
- Rural Development Commission
- Countryside Commission
- British Rail Community Unit
£50,000 came from the Rural Development Commission and £37,000 from Devon County Council, South Hams District Council, The Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon Railway Association. The rest of the funds came from the South Devon Railway Trust.
(Source of funding information: Totnes Times 15/7/1993)
You can see from the blog that there have been a great many comments about the sharing of this footbridge with cyclists. In response to this the South Devon Railway issued the following statement from their Board – click here
At the same time the sharing of the footbridge has attracted the attention of the Department of Transport who have written the following letter to the Board – click here
Please feel free to discuss your support or opposition to the shared use of the footbridge with cyclers and walkers on our blog (click here), or just sign up to our e-petition (the orange button at the top).