Proposed Abbey Fields cycle route revealed

The current cycle path to the east of Abbey Fields by Bridge Street.
The current cycle path to the east of Abbey Fields by Bridge Street.

The likely route of a proposed cycle path through Abbey Fields in Kenilworth has been revealed by Warwickshire county councillor John Whitehouse.

He also said a study into the feasibility of the path through the Fields is set to be published ‘imminently.’

I’m very keen for an informed public debate on the report to start as soon as possible.

Cllr John Whitehouse

The study, sponsored jointly by Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council and undertaken by cycling charity Sustrans, aims to ‘explore options for provision of a safe, accessible, convenient and attractive cycle route through Abbey Fields.’

It proposes that the best route through the park is from the end of the existing cycle route to the east under Bridge Street, along the north side of the Finham Brook before crossing on a new bridge near the swimming pool.

It then continues west to meet Castle Road, where a new crossing would provide a safe link to the existing cycle path to Castle Farm Leisure Centre.

The most expensive part of the scheme is likely to be the bridge, although it is not known exactly how much it will cost before the report is made publicly available.

The scheme to build the cycle path has not yet been funded, but Cllr Whitehouse believes if the details of the plans are in place then it stands a good chance of being funded in the future.

He said: “Opportunities for funding could crop up at short notice. Although the detailed works have been done we haven’t publicised it generally and made sure we’ve got community backing.

“The right thing to do would be to go back to a community forum to see what people thought.

“I hope the report will deal with the concerns some people might have with the cycle path.”

The issue of cycling in Kenilworth was brought up at a previous community forum in 2011, and a dedicated cycling issues group was made in the wake of the forum, which sought to find out whether townspeople supported a cycle path though Abbey Fields . Cllr Whitehouse chaired the group.

The group found that many people supported the idea provided it could be done sensitively without conflicting with the safety and enjoyment of other people using the Fields.

A study from Sustrans was then commissioned jointly by Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council about a year ago.

Cllr Whitehouse added: “Having seen a draft copy of the Sustrans report, I believe that a sensitive cycle path can be achieved, and I’m very keen for an informed public debate on the report to start as soon as possible.”

Funding could come from a variety of sources, be it through Sustrans, central government grants or even HS2 Cycleway, a project which aims to link communities near to the proposed high-speed rail line.

The Friends of Abbey Fields voiced their neutrality on the addition of a cycle path through the Fields in last week’s letters section of the Weekly News.

And a letter from Ed Franklin published a fortnight ago claimed a cycle path through the Fields was “overdue”.

If built, the cycle path would connect to Route 52, a 50-mile cycleway linking Warwick and Loughborough.