A visionary project to deliver a new Greenway from Evesham to Alcester and Broom to Stratford.

Route 1 – Evesham to Alcester

Salford Priors Parish Council made a brave and far sighted decision in early 2018.  Through their Neighbourhood Plan process they called a meeting of adjoining parishes extending to Alcester Town Council to the north and Evesham Town Council to the south.  Their purpose was to investigate the potential of developing pathways for walkers and cyclists across parish boundaries with the following objectives.

  • To promote safe and responsible leisure routes (e.g. cycling, walking) within and across Parish boundaries thereby improving the health and well-being of the local population.
  • To provide a forum for neighbouring communities establish links with safe cycle and pathway routes.
  • To champion and seek funding for the development of an improved infrastructure cyclists and walkers in the area
  • To provide a source of information and advice to local and visiting cyclists and walkers.
  • To promote tourism and encourage visiting cyclists and walkers to use local businesses.
  • To reduce dependency on the motor car, reduce pollution and so improve our environment.

It soon became clear that there was enthusiasm for such a project among the parishes. The route would be based on the old railway line between the two towns that closed in 1962. And would run along a 10 mile spine route between Alcester and Evesham   As a result of that first meeting it was agreed to set up a group and take the challenge on!

That group was comprised of representatives from the parish and town councils of Alcester, Bidford on Avon, Cleeve Prior, Evesham, Exhall, Harvington, North and Middle Littleton, Norton and Lenchwick, Offenham, Salford Priors and Wixford. It was originally called the Cross Parish Cycle and Pathways Project (CPCPP) but this was changed soon after to the Avon to Arrow Greenway Project (AAGP).

An early decision was taken to commission and fund a Feasibility Study for the project from ‘Sustrans’, the National Sustainable Transport Charity. This excellent comprehensive study has formed the basis for the work of the group since then.

We have made very significant progress over the last two years or so since then. We have properly established the organisation, gained charitable status and worked hard to start the implementation of the Sustrans Feasibility Study. From the start the AAGP’s strategy has been to progress through forming positive  partnerships and we now have all Town and Parish Councils along the proposed route supporting us both in principle and financially  . We are in discussions with major local landowners and have the strong backing of organisations such as the Heart of England Forest and the Avon Navigation Trust.

Broom to Stratford-upon-Avon

Adding the Broom to Stratford upon Avon Route.

Early in 2020, an approach was made by a representative of the Bidford Health Centre Patient Participation Group (BHCPPG) about extending the AAGP route from Bidford Village to the Health Centre.  The Health Centre is located close to the old railway line which used to run from Broom to Stratford upon Avon and closed in 1960.  It is located about a mile from the centre of Bidford on the B439 which has no footways so walking the Health Centre is not an option.  The BHCPPG representative felt using the old railway line from Bidford village was an option to provide a good route with health benefits.

AAGP Officers have met with BHCPPG and subsequently held a site meeting.  Initial investigation of land ownership and other enquiries have shown that there seems to be a very good prospect of a continuous route to Stratford upon Avon being possible along the old railway line.  This route, around 7.5 miles, would link up with an existing shared pedestrian cycle way within Stratford town along the old railway line, past Stratford Racecourse and join to the existing very popular Stratford Greenway.

Parishes and Communities

This route passes through the parishes of Bidford on Avon, Binton, Temple Grafton, Luddington and Stratford upon Avon and close to Welford on Avon.
The route is wholly contained within Stratford upon Avon District Council and Warwickshire County Council areas. Contact has been made with senior officers and politicians including the sitting MP and a close working relationship established with Luddington Parish Council who are particularly active regarding their footpaths and cycleways.

There is widespread support in principle and a key part of the AAGP’s strategic approach is to establish the project as an element of future infrastructure planning at all political levels. This approach is vital in order to open up the opportunity for substantial funding via government grants.

The Broom to Stratford upon Avon spine route matters because:

  • The link will be an important part of the off road network being developed in the area and would link up with both the AAGP spine route and the existing Stratford Greenway.
  • The link will allow longer journeys to be made to between the three historic towns

Alcester, Evesham and Stratford and would have massive tourist potential.

  • The inclusion of Stratford upon Avon will substantially increase the profile of the AAGP and could become a key tourist amenity as well as having massive local benefits.

As a result the AAGP is now commissioning a further Feasibility Study from Sustrans to identify potential routes and their costs so we can build an evidence based business case to take to our politicians and landowners.

Like everything else the project has been hit hard by the consequences of Covid 19 since the first lock down in March 2020. Despite this we have mad positive progress through regular Zoom meetings and updated the wider working group with virtual meetings and regular Newsletters. We believe that with the exciting partnership we have with Salford Priors Parish Council and the three landowners involved, it is possible we will see work on the section from Salford Priors to Wixford begin before the end of 2021. The opening up of a significant stretch of the route will undoubtedly give the AAGP a huge boost in terms of both profile and credibility.

The potential is enormous – consider the impact of opening up such an ambitious network of paths and Cycleways giving access to the rich environment that surrounds us. It offers the opportunity to build on the new enthusiasm for walking and cycling which is one of the few good things that the pandemic has given us. It will accelerate the situation where children and adults alike rely less on cars and public transport getting to school and to work respectively. That the route crosses District and County boundaries only increases its already huge potential value and offers the opportunity for a wider partnership of those working to see this project succeed.

It really is something worth fighting for – a new Greenway with spines from Evesham to Alcester and Broom to Stratford linking to the existing and well used Stratford Greenway from the Racecourse.

For further information:

Community Consultation (April 2022) including survey questions, survey data and charts
https://www.harvington-pc.org.uk/aagp/

Avon and Arrow website:
https://aagp.org.uk

History of the railway along which most of the route will follow:
https://aagp.org.uk/history/