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Funding pledge to help bike track get started

A plan of the proposed bike track in Alnwick.
A plan of the proposed bike track in Alnwick.

Alnwick Town Council has agreed to bridge the gap if there is a funding shortfall to ensure the long-awaited bike track project goes ahead.

The scheme, whose origins date back many years and which received planning permission in August 2015, is for land by the sewage works to the east of Allerburn Lea.

Developed by the Gallery Youth project with support from Groundworks North East, just under £90,000 of the estimated £109,000 project costs have been secured, with the result of a bid to Sport England for £22,000 still awaited.

The council already agreed to take on the 20-year lease for the land at a cost of £100 per year as well as paying the previous tenant farmer compensation for his loss – £1,250.

And at last Thursday’s meeting of the town council, members agreed to be named as the applicant for the Sport England bid, due to it being the leaseholder of the site.

The sporting body also wanted the council to offer assurances that it would not give up the lease within seven years, as there is a break clause requiring just 12 months’ notice in the contract, which the council also agreed.

Finally, while these requests suggest that Sport England is looking favourably on the bid, it is still to be decided.

With this in mind, town councillors agreed to provide up to £10,000 to meet the shortfall, with county councillor Gordon Castle offering another £5,000 on top if required from his 2018/19 small schemes allowance.

While the bike-track project – and the town council’s support – has to proceed on the assumption that it will cost £109,000, the recently-submitted plans for new homes in the area may change things.

Northumberland Estates lodged its application – for 270 homes on land at Windy Edge, with 87 in the first phase – last month.

A key aspect would be that the scheme would be accessed via a widened Peter’s Mill Lane, from Alnmouth Road, which would negate the need for the passing places on that route currently included in the bike-track plans. However, at this stage it is not known whether the homes will be approved or what the time-scale would be for development.