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East Herts Council and Herts County Council finally agree new Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)

The wheels are finally in motion for a cycling and walking infrastructure plan in the Bishop's Stortford area after it was agreed by council chiefs – but although campaigners welcome the news, they says it's long overdue.

The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) is being developed by East Herts district and Hertfordshire county councils with the aim of enabling a long-term approach to improving networks in the district for cyclists and pedestrians.

It forms a vital part of national and local government strategy to increase the number of trips made on foot or by bike and will set out preferred routes and core zones for development and a prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for investment.

A cyclist using a cycle path. (picture: iStock/Alvarez) (62985621)
A cyclist using a cycle path. (picture: iStock/Alvarez) (62985621)

While hoping the new initiative will finally lead to a mushrooming of routes in and around town, Graham Oxborrow, from Cycle Stortford, said the process should have been started years ago as it was launched by the Government in 2018.

"Other districts in Hertfordshire have completed LCWIPs and already received funding from Government and started to install cycling facilities," said Graham.

He said that Cycle Stortford was keen to engage fully with the process.

A section of one of the Bishop's Stortford North greenways, for pedestrians and cyclists, awaiting its surface layer. Picture: Cycle Stortford
A section of one of the Bishop's Stortford North greenways, for pedestrians and cyclists, awaiting its surface layer. Picture: Cycle Stortford

"We recognise that the LCWIP is now regarded as the key document to unlock funding for improvements to cycling and walking facilities," said Graham.

"We've already lobbied hard to be actively involved in the LCWIP process from the outset, given there are ‘shovel ready’ schemes ready to be installed. Many of these have been developed for years, but funding constraints and a lack of genuine support in EHC and HCC have frustrated actual installation."

Graham cited the Meads route which links north Bishop's Stortford with Rye Street and which he said was "ready to go but both councils are wrangling over the cost and responsibility for maintenance".

He also highlighted a cycle route laid out by the St James' Park developers in Stortford South, although after reaching Whittington Way it was the councils' responsibility to extend it into the town.

The delay in achieving an LCWIP led to Sustainable Sawbridgeworth devising its own one in August 2018 and identified potential routes between the town and Harlow and Stortford.

David Royle, of Sustainable Sawbridgeworth, asked HCC's executive member for highways and transport for an update in February and was told staffing vacancies had held up the process, but he insisted: "We are on it now and things will be done.”

That was echoed in the joint press release from the councils as they announced that walking and cycling routes were "set to improve across East Herts".

Cllr Graham McAndrew, EHC's executive member for environmental sustainability, said: “The plan will focus on routes with the greatest demand and, therefore, the greatest potential to enable increases in walking and cycling.

"We have a beautiful district to explore by bike or on foot, and by having a joined-up plan in place, we can attract the investment needed to fund vital improvements.”

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