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South Yorkshire awarded only 20% of Active Travel Funding due to rejected bids

Sheffield and Rotherham have lost out on money to deliver walking and cycling improvements, say campaign group CycleSheffield.

Of the £11,493,770 in Active Travel Funding Tranche 3 (ATF3) that South Yorkshire bid for from the Department for Transport (DfT), only a fraction – £2,669,947 – has been awarded. One scheme was approved each in Sheffield and Doncaster but the majority of proposals were rejected, with Rotherham and Barnsley not receiving a penny.

This is an incredibly disappointing and avoidable situation.

Compare and contrast this to Liverpool and Manchester city regions, who gained £11.7 million and £13 million in funding respectively. Up the road in West Yorkshire, they received £7 million for active travel from this round of funding.

A package of much-needed business grants did not make the cut. Neither did e-bike loans or safer school crossings, or a series of upgrades to the Trans Pennine Trail. A major theme is that while the off-road Trans Pennine Trail routes are popular, the money for upgrades was not approved as it was not seen as "ambitious" enough.

Active Travel England and the DfT made it clear that they want all new schemes to follow five important principles:

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Many of the proposed schemes – especially in Barnsley – failed to provide direct and coherent routes, instead opting for off-road routes. The two successful schemes in Sheffield and Doncaster involve reallocating road space to provide safe, direct and high-standard cycle paths, separated from pedestrian space.

Approved schemes

Doncaster: Jossey Lane to Highfield Connectivity

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Sheffield: East Bank Road

The ATF3 bid said: "This scheme builds an active travel route enhancement from Granville Square along East Bank Road to connect into the communities of Heeley, Arbourthorne, Meersbrook, Gleadless Valley and more. The route will feed into the proposed Sheaf Valley Cycle Route which is currently progressing and onward to a number of TCF proposals.

The area contains major employment sites and educational institutions including Sheffield College and connects to Sheffield Midland Railway Station. The route identified in this scheme is largely free from bus movements to avoid conflict with heavier vehicles. The route also connects with the Sheaf Valley via a spur from Queens Road to Duchess Road."

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‘Mini-Holland’ feasibility study

The South Yorkshire allocation includes £78,947 for a mini-Holland feasibility study in Darnall.

Rejected schemes

Rotherham: Broom Road Extension

The proposed scheme contained several design flaws, such as protection 'giving up' at junctions. This is contrary to modern cycle design standards and is likely to be the reason for refusal – even though this was an ‘on-road’ scheme.

Darnall to the Advanced Manufacturing Park

In Sheffield, the route from Darnall to the Advanced Manufacturing Park seems to have been rejected as it was a proposal to upgrade a largely off-road and unlit route. The proposal also failed to provide a direct enough route.

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Abbey Lane and Crookes Valley crossings

The final disappointment was that the DfT refused to pay for much-needed safer pedestrian crossings at Abbey Lane within Ecclesall Woods and between Weston Park and the Ponderosa.

Crossings

However, all is not lost.

We urge the new mayor Oliver Coppard and the four local authorities to work with Active Travel England to submit a much stronger and more ambitious bid for the next deadline in August. Around £10 million is up for grabs in the next round of funding and CycleSheffield would be happy to meet with councillors and the mayor to talk about suggestions for this.

The East Bank Road, Great North Road and Connecting Sheffield schemes show that South Yorkshire can win funding for high-quality active travel schemes from the government. Any new bid from South Yorkshire should meet the standards and ambition of these schemes.

There are still several ‘quick win’ active travel routes in Sheffield. These include routes to the hospitals, a comprehensive low-traffic neighbourhood plan and major potential cycling routes along Penistone Road, Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road. We need these interventions to start creating an active travel network in Sheffield.

We look forward to the response from the mayor’s office, who have so far been silent on the failure of the ATF3 bid and who have not yet celebrated the success of the ‘mini-Holland’ feasibility money for Darnall.

On behalf of Cycle Sheffield.

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