Coastal route plans on show

PLANS to transform a coastal route are to be put on display.

Natural England is to set out its proposals for an improved coastal access route between Seaton Carew, in Hartlepool, and South Bents, in Sunderland.

Bosses from Hartlepool Borough Council, along with Durham County Council and Sunderland City Council, have met with Natural England, and landowners, to walk the course and discuss the 34-mile stretch, which at present has been affected by erosion.

Coastal Access legislation will enable the footpath to automatically move inland or “roll back” on around half of the length of the stretch, which means that the new route would be secure into the future.

But now it needs members of the public to have their say on their ideas which they hope will provide greater access for local residents and visitors where they can rest, relax and admire the view.

Draft proposals for the route are now open for public consultation and Natural England invites comments from all interested parties including land owners, farmers, residents, organisations, businesses and people who use the area for recreation.

Adrian Vass, Natural England’s area manager said; “We have had detailed discussions with landowners and key organisations. This has been essential and we thank them for their time.

“For the next 12 weeks we are inviting farmers, local residents, visitors and businesses to have their say on how we secure this landmark route.

“It’s important that all responses are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.”

Niall Benson, heritage coast officer who works on behalf of the three councils covering the stretch, said; “This is an exciting opportunity to improve access to the North East Coast.

“It will help to safeguard public access in the future and provide a continuous stretch for people to walk and enjoy.

“The consultation is about people being able to have their say on the draft proposals to make sure Natural England and ourselves get things right.

“We encourage anyone with an interest in coastal access to take a look at the plans, talk to us if there are questions or concerns, and send in views.”

The public consultation period will last 12 weeks, closing at 5pm on Friday, August 3, when the proposals will be finalised and submitted to the Government’s Secretary of State for approval.

Copies of the plans and comment forms will be available online at www.naturalengland.org.uk/coastalaccess and will be displayed in libraries and tourist information centres along the stretch.