Plans for Local Landmark Unveiled
At an open meeting in Shawford Parish Hall lat week, local people were able to hear about emerging plans to safeguard the much-loved Hockley Viaduct.
Leader of Winchester City Council George Beckett chaired the gathering, to ensure that residents and local organisations such as the Ramblers, the Friends of Hockley Viaduct and Winchester Cycling Touring Club, could offer their comments and suggestions.
Winchester City Council is working with Sustrans – who oversee the National Cycle Network – and Hampshire County Council on a project which will ensure that the Viaduct is repaired, and that it has a long and useful future ahead forming an integral part of the final stretch of National Cycle Route 23.
Route 23 joins Reading to the Isle of Wight, but it currently comes to a halt either side of Winchester.
By working together, the three bodies seek to complete Route 23, providing a very memorable pathway across the Viaduct for leisure walkers and cyclists, with plenty of heritage charm, lovely views and some interesting wildlife. It will also offer a low-carbon means for commuters to head into central Winchester from the South Winchester Park and Ride, by using a bike rather than a bus. The funding promised by Hampshire County Council would see the introduction of a bike loan scheme at the Park and Ride site as part of the plan.
The Council has engaged Sustrans to manage repair works to the Viaduct starting next summer, drawing on the Council’s own contribution of £500,000 for the project. Negotiations with landowners and funders are now underway, with a helpful early contribution of £50,000 from the LEADER Rural Development Programme received to support feasibility work on designs for the missing part of Route 23.
Nick Farthing from Sustrans commented after the meeting,
I have never attended a public meeting of this kind where absolutely everyone was in favour of the scheme. It really is a ‘win win’ plan, and I’m delighted to see a good turning into reality.”
Cllr George Beckett, Leader of the Council said,
I have for many years been trying to find a funding stream and programme to maintain and use this major local feature. I am delighted to see we now have a way ahead.”