New cycling and walking routes in County Durham towns will make it easier for residents to travel around after a significant investment boost 

Durham County Council has announced plans to create Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) for Bishop Auckland, Consett, Crook, Peterlee, Seaham, Spennymoor, Shildon and Stanley to improve active travel across the region. Barnard Castle, will become the first LCWIP Lite town, with its plan including proposals better suited to the rural nature of the area.

Similar projects have already been adopted in Durham City, Chester-le-Street and Newton Aycliffe and were first introduced in October 2021. The success of those schemes has now led the authority to expand it to include the other nine remaining major towns in the county. 

Around £178,000 has been secured from the government's Active Travel Capability Fund to continue the work across the nine other main centres. The money will also allow the authority to develop an 'LCWIP Lite' methodology, which is a streamlined approach to developing plans for rural routes and smaller settlements.

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Cllr Elizabeth Scott, cabinet member for Economy and Partnerships, told Durham County Council’s cabinet meeting: “The plans are an important part for the future of active travel across the county. The plans give us the evidence that we need to source funding to build better paths for people to travel on foot or by bike for everyday journeys to school, work, the shops, and other key destinations without the need to get in the car. 

“Not only will increasing participation with active travel help support and improve individual mental health and wealth, it also brings wider benefits which contribute to measures to tackle the climate emergency and which provide a more accessible network for more people to use.

“Further consultation will be carried out as part of the delivery of each scheme - and we welcome the continued input of local users, key stakeholders and partner organisations.”