Funding boost for greenways routes

Funding boost for greenways routes

15 August 2018

AMBITIOUS plans to create new traffic-free routes for walkers and cyclists across the district have secured a £200,000 funding boost.

The Department for Infrastructure and Public Health Agency are making the cash available to develop new routes linking Downpatrick with Newcastle and Comber which are among a group of eight new greenways sharing the funding.

The local routes will each receive £25,000 to help advance them towards the design stage, with the schemes being backed by Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

News of the investment has been welcomed by South Down MP Chris Hazzard, South Down MLA Colin McGrath and Downpatrick councillor Dermot Curran.

Mr Hazzard, a former minister at the helm of the Department for Infrastructure who launched the Greenways project, said he was delighted with the cash boost.

“This investment will mean better opportunities for walking and cycling for children and adults,” he said. “Having launched the strategy at a section of the the old Belfast and Co Down railway line in Dundrum, I am delighted to see the route is again included in the list of areas receiving additional funding at this next stage.”

The MP added: “The potential of linking the highly successful Comber Greenway to the kingdom of Mourne is really exciting and I will continue to work with local council to ensure this project advances in the months ahead.”

Mr McGrath said: “Greenway development is to be welcomed, supported and encouraged where possible. Every one of us should be getting fresh air, exercise and going on foot or bike where possible.

“We all know that life can become very sedentary especially as we get older, so it’s vital that projects such as this are nurtured and developed so we can strive to improve our mental and physical wellbeing whilst enjoying the beauty that is around us.

“I appreciate that schemes such as this are early days and depend on many variables however they have to start somewhere so I commend the PHA and he Department for directing finds in this fashion and I look forward to supporting these projects as they progress and develop.”

Cllr Curran said traffic-free routes encouraged people to “get out and get active” and he hoped work on the new routes linking the town with Newcastle and Comber can start soon.

He said it was his understanding the routes will utilise disused railway lines, riverside paths and flood embankments.

“The new greenways have the potential to regenerate parts of the district, particularly rural areas, which are not being utilised and create new public areas for people to enjoy,” he said.

“Getting people out of the car and walking and cycling will help them lead healthier lifestyles which there is major focus on at the moment. More significantly, the new greenways will provide important new traffic-free routes people can explore at their leisure.”

A number of local councils are backing plans for greenways in their respective areas, with Cllr Curran delighted Newry, Mourne and Down Council has also weighed in with its support. He said he had no doubt the new links will be popular with locals and visitors alike.