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Cycling trail a 'scandalous' waste of money

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 14, 2012

The National Trust has plans for a cycle route in Plymbridge Woods

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Scaled-down plans for a cycle trail through a cherished Devon woodland will cost a "scandalous" £100,000 per kilometre, campaigners have claimed.

The National Trust had originally proposed 15km of trails through Plymbridge Woods, Plymouth, but shelved the plans after a covenant prevented plans for a cafe. It now intends to submit plans for a 4km route without the cafe, for which it is trying to find another location.

Arthur Ainslie, chairman of the Friends of Plymbridge Woods, said the trust's plan would ruin "beautiful ancient woodland" which the group was "desperate to preserve".

Mr Ainslie said: "It is a scandalous waste of public money. There is an awful lot that could be done with £400,000 to improve the life of the majority.

"It is all a bit of a disaster. The Friends of Plymbridge woods are hugely disappointed that the trust is continuing with this project when it should just have cut its losses. We will continue to fight it."

Yesterday, the trust confirmed the £400,000 cost and said it would be submitting a planning application for the scheme to Plymouth City Council within a week. It said the moderate cycle trail would be "ideal for people looking for a more adventurous leisure ride exploring the woodlands alongside the River Plym".

Public consultation exercises, it said, had "helped the trust pull together what it strongly believes are the most appropriate plans for Plymbridge, balancing the needs of different users of the site".

The application includes re-shaping the car park on the Plympton side of the river to increase car parking spaces. In the longer term, the trust is looking to build "gateway" facilities such as a cafe, toilets and cycle hire at Coypool.

The development, with 1 South West Cycling, is part of the trust's "Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature" programme to widen accessibility to its land through walking, cycling, kayaking, camping and other recreational activities.

It will be funded through the Rural Development Programme for England and the National Trust.

National Trust regional director Mark Harold said: "Enabling people to explore and enjoy our properties more fully and in different ways is a real priority for us in the South West and we believe that this off-road cycling trail at Plymbridge will really add to the enjoyment of these beautiful woods for those that cycle there already and for new audiences too."

The trust has run into similar controversy in Cornwall, where it recently submitted plans for 10km of cycle trails, hire facilities and a cafe on land at Lanhydrock House, near Bodmin. It has described them as an "absolute priority for the region", however the plans have attracted significant local opposition, including from the family which gifted the historic house to the National Trust almost 60 years ago.

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