CYCLING ROUTE: Former Somerset railway line could become route to Shepton Mallet
Part of a former Somerset railway link could be brought back into use to provide a vital pedestrian and cycling link to Shepton Mallet town centre.
Mendip District Council is attempting to make it easier to travel between the district’s key settlements without a car by connecting up ‘missing link’ cycle routes.
The council identified 14 such routes in June 2020 and is currently negotiating with landowners on five routes which could help to complete the ‘Somerset Circle’ route, enabling uninterrupted car-free routes in the northern half of Somerset.
New the council has put forward plans to fill in a small ‘missing link’ section in Shepton Mallet, using the path of a dismantled railway line to connect a communal green space to local shops.
Shepton Mallet had a railway station as part of the Cheddar Valley Line, with trains running via the town between Bristol and Witham before its closure in 1963.
Part of the former line runs alongside the A361 Cannard’s Grave Road through a car park near the council’s current offices, and then continues under a bridge towards the Townsend shopping centre.
The plans would see a short section of cycle path created along this stretch, connecting the Tesco supermarket to the Collet Park green space.
The western end of the path will link up with existing paths around Station Road, while the eastern end will allow access to the A37 Whitstone Road via existing paths to the north of Nightingale Close.
A total of 22 car parking spaces will be removed to allow pedestrians and cyclists to move through the existing paved area unimpeded.
A spokesman for Clark Landscape Design (representing the council) said: “The cycle path is 2.5 metres wide to allow for two-way cycle traffic.
“The new cycle path will run along the centre of the old track-way, leaving space either side for drainage.”
New trees will be planted along the former railway line section, in line with both the council’s strategy for dealing with the climate emergency and an effort to combat ash dieback across the county.
The council recently carried out new tree planting at Binegar Bottom, Tor Hill in Wells and Pomparles Bridge in Glastonbury, and is working with the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to plant more than 500 new trees in Ebbor Gorge and Rodney Stoke National Nature Reserve.
A decision is expected to be made on the plans later in the year.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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