Flitch Way could ‘help improve public health’ in Uttlesford
- Credit: Stuart Withington
The Flitch Way – a 15 mile decommissioned stretch of railway track – could get people more exercise and help them get to work by walking and bicycles, if organisations are willing to fund improvements, an action group says.
Dr Stuart Withington, the deputy chair of the Flitch Way Action Group, said more than 220,000 people live within two miles of the Flitch Way. There are more than a dozen schools and colleges and dozens of small and medium-sized firms that people commute to in cars. Stansted Airport, with 12,000 workers, lies less than a mile away.
But there are parts of the route that do not easily connect with homes, retail, education or work place and Dr Withington and his colleagues would like Essex County Council and other organisations to take action.
“Our vision for the Flitch Way is a near-continuous, safe, off-road track linking Bishop’s Stortford, Great Dunmow and Braintree forming an important east-west route for Essex. This could connect with the north-south route from Cambridge to London as well as to Stansted. Such a network would create a major off-road transport and recreational facility.”
Much of the track is already in place but Dr Withington said the footpath from Buttley’s Lane to The Brambles estate needs to be designated as a bridleway and resurfaced.
In Great Dunmow a new bridleway bridge is needed over the river Chelmer near Langleys, safe road crossings are needed over the B184 and the B1256 and improvements are needed to the bridge over the B1256.
The group said a spur from the Flitch Way to Stansted could encourage employees to switch to sustainable transport.
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An Essex County Council spokesperson said a section of the Flitch Way linked with Great Notley Country Park is maintained, with sections designated as a public bridleway.
And the Country Park links into an extended bridleway network that offers mainly off-road access from Braintree to Stansted Airport Bishop’s Stortford.
“The council has taken advantage of developments in the area to secure funding for improvements and will continue to do so.
“We welcome all offers of partnership working to support improvements to strategically important routes such as the Flitch Way.”