Next step to encourage walking and cycling and reduce traffic impact in two National Parks
Working with the New Forest and South Downs National Park Authorities, Hampshire County Council is proposing to set up a formal agreement between all the partners to take forward a programme of initiatives to reduce the impact of traffic in both National Parks.
Funded by a share of a £3.8 million grant from the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the programme aims to develop sustainable transport programmes including cutting traffic congestion and lowering carbon emissions.
- The grant awarded to the authorities will enable them to focus on:
- improving key public transport services into the two National Parks;
- making it easy to reach visitor attractions within the parks;
- promoting travel by cycle, bus and rail to and around the parks;
- and managing traffic effectively with the parks, so it does not detract from visitors' experiences.
This will be achieved through a combination of infrastructure improvements, together with the promotion of public transport, walking and cycling. Work will include creating cycle and walking routes to stations, upgrading bus and rail facilities and schemes to increase safety for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
- Funding has already been approved for this year for a number of improvements, including:
- resurfacing the bridleway between Owslebury and Bishops Waltham;
- construction of sections of new cycleway between Petersfield Station and Queen Elizabeth Country Park, together with improved signing for both pedestrians and cyclists;
- replacement of visitor information name plates, and provision of lighting, at stations in the New Forest.
In addition a wide range of other improvements are under consideration for the remainder of the programme, such as:
- traffic management schemes for routes in the National Parks' areas that are unsuitable for traffic;
- improved walking and cycling routes;
- improved facilities for visitors to tourist attractions;
- enhancement to railways stations and public transport facilities at gateways to the National Parks.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said:
"While the County Council is the lead authority for this programme, we will be working in partnership with both the National Park Authorities and neighbouring councils, to develop and implement schemes. The programme aims to reduce the number of vehicles travelling in the National Park areas as well as encouraging more people to use public transport. Hopefully people will get more out of their visit by walking or cycling around these unique and beautiful areas of countryside.
"As part of this work we also want to identify new and innovative ways of reducing the impact of traffic on narrow, rural routes across the New Forest and South Downs areas, so we will be looking at a number of potential sites under this transport objective and working with communities to seek and explore local views."
Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said:
"This is a once-in-a-generation funding opportunity. We now have a real chance to make a difference to sustainable transport in the New Forest for the people who live and visit here. We are looking forward to working with communities and organisations to explore ways of reducing the impact of traffic and improvement of transport facilities."
Barry Lipscomb, the South Downs National Park Authority Lead Member for Transport said:
"As the closest National Park to London in the most populous part of the country, it's vital that we enable more people to use public and sustainable transport to get to, and around, the beautiful South Downs National Park. This partnership and funding means we can join up with the local transport authorities to promote and support buses, trains, walking and cycling to both our most welcome visitors and the people who live here."