A new 700-metre woodland path has been created through Weston Woods – and it’s already proving to be a big hit with schoolchildren, dog walkers, and people going to work or exercising.

The project has provided a safe off-road path that brings people closer to nature, and links to employment and education sites for residents and schoolchildren in the Weston Coyney and Meir area. The permanent path is based on existing public right of ways through the woods, connecting Weston Coyney Road – opposite Cinderhill Industrial Estate – to the footpath outside Abbey Hill School and College.

The work, which took 12 weeks to complete, was managed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and funded by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The path has been built using ‘no dig’ construction methods in the wooded areas to protect tree roots, with a mix of timber sleepers and concrete edgings, and a non-slip, easy-to-maintain surface. Bins for litter and dog waste have also been installed at the start and end of the path.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said: “We recently reviewed public right of ways in the city with a focus on where we could make improvements which would offer the greatest benefits, and this scheme ticked all the boxes. The path gives residents the opportunity to access nearby employment sites at Cinderhill Industrial Estate and Park Hall Business Village without using a car. It also provides a safe route for children going to school in the area and benefits residents who can use it for dog walking and exercise, so it’s a real win-win on all fronts. Before the path it could get quite muddy for people trying to follow the right of way through the woods, but dirty trainers and clothes should now hopefully be a thing of the past.

We are one of the greenest cities in the UK and it’s fantastic we have great amenities like Weston Woods on our doorstep. One thing the pandemic has shown us is the benefit of open spaces, and that’s why it’s important that we maintain access to our public footpaths and public right of ways that allow our residents, and their families, to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors to stay physically and mentally active and healthy. The path looks great and the response from the community has been very pleasing. It’s been welcomed by everyone from dog walkers, to cyclists and joggers and I am in no doubt it will be a well-used path for years to come.”Weston-woods-SOT

Alun Rogers, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said: “Our Local Sustainable Transport Fund was created to encourage active travel across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, particularly to help people safely get to jobs and employment opportunities by foot or by bike.

“This year more than ever, we have seen people make the most of their local outdoor spaces and the mental and physical wellbeing benefits of outdoor exercise. As the construction works at Weston Woods come to a close, in time for the spring and summer months, we are looking forward to people using the new pathway for commuting purposes, to get to local schools and for exercise and wellbeing reasons.

“This has been another great partnership project with the council and evidences how the LEP is both driving growth in the region and helping to create the right economic and social environment to support local people.”

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