A plan for a new cycling and walking trail connecting Exeter and East Devon has been given the go-ahead. It will provide a route for leisure and commuters working in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone.

East Devon District Council has given a ‘thumbs up’ to a plan for the Clyst Valley Trail.

The plan was endorsed by East Devon’s Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday 20 March 2018.

The 8-mile Clyst Valley Trail will be used by commuters and for recreation by walkers, cyclists, mobility scooters and where possible, horse riders. It will link the Exe Estuary trail with the historic Killerton House and Park, via an existing trail from Broadclyst. There is future potential to reach Ashclyst Forest and the Exe Valley Way. On the way, it passes through historic parklands at Winslade, Bishops Court and Poltimore, forming the backbone and first step towards a new Clyst Valley Regional Park.

The route aims to provide a direct and safe way for people travelling to work in the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone at Exeter Science Park and Skypark.

Cllr Phil Twiss, East Devon’s Strategic Planning Committee Chair, said:

Providing an efficient and congestion-free route for people to get to work, as well as desirable leisure facilities is important for us.

This stimulating environment will go hand in hand with innovation and a healthy, vibrant workforce for a prosperous local economy.

By providing a direct link to the Science Park, the Clyst Valley Trail will provide more options for people to cycle and walk to the park safely, while experiencing at first hand the outstanding environment in which we are fortunate to work and live.

By reducing car dependency and raising the profile of healthy, active and low carbon transport modes, the Trail will contribute positively to reducing congestion, a major constraint on economic growth and prosperity. The Clyst Valley Trail will mean that a rush-hour trip by bike from new homes at Hillside Gardens, West Clyst to Skypark will only take 14 minutes.

Evidence from studies shows that for every £1 invested in walking and cycling projects, £13 is provided in economic benefits to an area.  For example, the Tour of Britain cycle race brought over £4.2 million to the Devon economy in 2016.

The trail will benefit existing schools at Clyst St George, Clyst St Mary, and Broadclyst and future schools at West Clyst and Mosshayne, increasing the number of pupils able to cycle or walk to school, which currently only stands at 2-3% nationally. In Exeter, where direct cycling links to school have been built and promoted, and accompanied by training such as ‘Bikeability’, more than 20% of children are regularly cycling to school.

The next step to bring the plans to fruition will see East Devon District Council submit a bid to the Rural Development Programme for England to fund part of the trail in the Clyst St Mary/George area. This will enable people to cross some busy A-roads safely to access school, Topsham station and local businesses such as Dart’s Farm.