CELEBRATIONS!!! The Steam Coast Trail wins £637,050 from the Coastal Community Fund!
January 26, 2015
In fact, it's been a record funding week for half a dozen projects across the South West to benefit from £36 million Government investment to boost jobs and growth in coastal communities.
The Steam Coast Trail is the vision for a breathtaking network of multi-user paths around West Somerset. It will weave walkers, cyclists, runners and wheelchair users through 36km of glorious countryside and in and out of picturesque heritage towns and railway villages. Benefits include road safety, sustainable transport, health benefits, and economic benefits from attracted tourism.
The CCF funding will enable The Steam Coast Trail to build a dedicated path (‘The Bridge Path’) to bridge the 2km gap between two existing networks of safe B-roads and existing A-road-side cycle paths (‘Safe Networks’). Signs will mark the network, informative plaques will draw attention to heritage sites of particular interest, and a digital app will enhance navigation, information and integration with other local initiatives. As a valuable resource for locals and tourists, the Steam Coast Trail will require sustained management, upkeep and marketing. Conservative figures drawn from local and regional market research demonstrate The Steam Coast Trail will, in time, create around 140 direct and indirect jobs and generate around £7 million of economic benefit every year (figures based on comprehensive studies conducted on similar initiatives such as the Tarka Trail in Barnstaple and the Camel Trail out of Padstow).
Since the conception of the Steam Coast Trail in 2005 by Western Somerset Forum 21 Limited, a local environmental group, it has had over 220 statements of support from local residents, letters of support by many local businesses, encouragement and fundraising efforts from local schools, and support from Somerset Countryside - National Trust and Exmoor National Park Authority to name but a few other organisations.
Beyond the scope of this CCF funding, plans to extend the network are already under way, as are initiatives to increase the accessibility and safety of the existing networks. This further work will extend the network and bridge other gaps in the existing network for more direct routing. The benefits of this additional work will be vastly enhanced by the construction of The Bridge Path, the positive effect of which are explored in more detail here soon.
The Friends of The Steam Coast Trail would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their continued support, including the Driftwood Cafe, Maitland Walker LLP, Blue Anchor Bay, West Somerset College, the The National Trust, The Crown Estate, West Somerset Council, Somerset County Council, West Somerset Railway, Natural England, Exmoor National Park, Exmoor Tourist Association, Minehead Development Trust and Dunster Beach Holidays. Not to mention scores of other local business who have already pledged donations or kind words. We would especially like to thank the Blue Anchor Chalet Association for their fantastic input regarding ongoing challenges faced at the shingle bank at Blue Anchor. We are particularly grateful to West Somerset Council who signed up officially to our original vision of what could be achieved in 2013, and then provided us latterly with some dedicated officer support and financial resources to help us submit our successful bid. And would like to reiterate our thanks to the Driftwood Cafe and their money-raising efforts by way of a gruelling bike ride on their 80-year anniversary!
Quote from Dr Harry Singer, MD of Singer Instruments and the Chairman of The Friends of The Steam Coast Trail: "I can't tell you how awesome it is to have received the grant. It means such a great deal to the local schools and many local businesses who have been campaigning really hard for the Trail, and all of the obvious health, economic, safety and sustainability benefits that will come with it. A very happy day for West Somerset."
Quotes from Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway, General Manager: “We are delighted that this project has now got the green light to start, this is very good news for West Somerset, and the wider issue of attracting day trippers and tourists to visit Somerset". “After a Cycle along the Steam Coast Trail, what better way to return home, than by using our Railway to get you back home”
Quote from Jenny Lennon-Wood, Chair of Minehead Development Trust: "Minehead Development Trust has volunteered to host the Project Officer, as they welcome the link that this project provides with the wider tourism offer for Minehead and West Somerset. Making these essential links will ensure that this community-led project adds value to other community-led regeneration initiatives. All of our community focussed activity is strengthened by being joined up - working together, we can add value, avoid duplication and become a far greater sum of the constituent parts"
Quote from Karen Mills, Lead Member for Economic Regeneration at West Somerset Council: “We were extremely impressed with the Friends of the Steam Coast ambition and professionalism in wanting to make this project a reality, their enthusiasm and commitment was so compelling, that we just had to be as creative as they are to find some small pump priming funds and officer resource to help them with their bid. We are delighted it has paid off, and will continue to make sure we corral as much help as we can, to see this project through to fruition”