PEOPLE are being urged to comment on a proposed route to improve access to the coast in Hartlepool and East Durham.
Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the environment, is currently consulting on its proposals for a new national trail around all of England’s coast.
People are being asked to comment on the proposed route through Hartlepool, Seaton Carew and Easington.
The deadline for responses to the England Coastal Path is 5pm on Friday.
A report by Natural England states: “This is a significant opportunity to improve public access to this stretch of coast with benefits for residents, businesses and visitors.
“The path would provide important strategic links between Hartlepool, Seaham, Sunderland and the open coast to either side of them.
“For the first time, there would be secure statutory rights of public access to significant areas of beach, cliff and other coastal land on this stretch of coast.”
Natural England has a statutory duty to improve access to England’s coast by securing a long-distance route around the coast and land off it where people can explore, rest or picnic in.
Existing routes would be linked up to create a continuous way-marked coast path.
Natural England has worked closely with Hartlepool Golf Club to identify a route through the course, striking a fair balance between the interests of the public and the management of the course.
The trail between North Gare and the golf club would generally be close to the sea on promenades and pavements, but move further inland to avoid the commercial areas of the port.
The draft report says some parts would benefit from work to make them safer or easier to use.
After the consultation Natural England will recommend where the route should be to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Local councils will consult with land owners and residents affected about the new signs and infrastructure once the Secretary of State has given a decision.
For full details about the proposals and to submit comments go to www.natural england.org.uk/coastalaccess