Nidderdale Greenway: Harrogate council pledges support to 'exciting' plans to extend popular cycling and walking route
Harrogate Borough Council has pledged its support to the growing momentum behind ambitious plans to extend the Nidderdale Greenway by up to 23 miles.
The authority has agreed to join a steering group leading on the plans which would see the four mile cycling and walking route from Harrogate to Ripley extended through the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Scar House Reservoir.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting last night, councillor Stanley Lumley, who represents the Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale Moors ward, said: "These plans have been approached on several occasions, but this is the first time it has got real credence.
"The first part of the Nidderdale Greenway has proved to be an enormous success creating a safe cycling and walking route.
"The ambition to extend it through Nidderdale to Pateley Bridge would have great benefits for businesses and residents. It would also be a great asset to Nidderdale and the district as a whole."
Councillor Phil Ireland, cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, added: "Sustainable transport is a key priority of this council and opportunities such as this should be supported.
"We do need representation on the steering group otherwise we would have no input into the development and delivery of the project."
Councils, campaigners and residents will make up the steering group which could be officially formed by this autumn.
It is being led by cycling campaigner Malcolm Margolis who long before the greenway opened in 2013 has always held an ambition of extending the current route which is used by an estimated 200,000 people every year.
Mr Margolis worked with Sustrans, a national charity which lobbies for and helps build infrastructure, to produce a feasibility study for the extension plans before the pandemic struck and caused some delays in moving the project forward.
The steering group will oversee the next stages of the project, including route planning and further talks with landowners. The aim is for the route to follow disused railway lines or existing rights of way wherever possible.
Mr Margolis previously said he hoped the route would be "substantially built" within the next five years and be funded by government grants and fundraising.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter