City Council plans to buy land for new walking & cycling pathway

Sign for a shared walking and cycling route

Worcester city councillors are to be asked to consider making a Compulsory Purchase Order to help acquire land for the creation of a new walking and cycling route linking the city centre and Shrub Hill railway station.

The Shrub Hill area is undergoing a multi-million pound regeneration, turning it into a major new centre for residential, business and entertainment use.

Now the City Council's Place and Economic Development Committee is to be asked to support proposals to build a new route from Shrub Hill to Pheasant Street and the canal bridge at the western end of Cromwell Street. This will create a new walking and cycling link from Shrub Hill to St Martin's Quarter and the city centre beyond.

A report to be considered by the committee on Monday 23 January notes that building the new foot and bike path will involve the City Council buying land which is currently part of the bus garage and Shrub Hill Retail Park.

The ownership of some of the land in question is unknown, and the committee is being asked to support the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order to ensure that the project can go ahead.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of the Place and Economic Development Committee, said: "The Shrub Hill regeneration will create a major new quarter for homes and employment, and the railway station could also deliver a big boost to arrivals in the area, with the number of passengers expected to double over the next 20 years.

"It's therefore essential that we have improved links between Shrub Hill and the city centre, and we don't want that to mean a big increase in car journeys. Encouraging walking and cycling between these two locations will be essential to meeting our sustainability goals, so I hope the committee will support the next steps to making this new route a reality."

If the Place and Economic Development Committee supports the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order, the Policy and Resources Committee will then be asked in May to authorise the making of the order.

The creation of the new pathway will be financed from the City Council's £19.6 million share of the Government's Towns Fund, with £10 million allocated for investment in Shrub Hill.

The City Council will also work with Worcestershire County Council to refurbish Isaac Maddox House on the Shrub Hill industrial estate for use as an Enterprise Centre.

Additionally, the City Council is awaiting the result of its £8 million bid to the Government's Levelling-Up Fund for investment in the refurbishment of the historic grade II listed Engine Works building, one of the main Shrub Hill landmarks.

The Shrub Hill industrial estate is now owned by Worcestershire County Council, which is leading on its broader regeneration.

At its meeting on 23 January, the City Council's Place and Economic Development Committee will also be asked to agree to the two councils entering into a collaboration agreement, setting out how the overall project will be run.

Additionally, the committee will be asked to support the City Council engaging with landowners, businesses and other stakeholders in the Shrub Hill area to agree a long-term vision for the area. This would be set out in a Supplementary Planning Document, which could form the basis for future funding bids. 

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