SUSTRANS NATIONAL Cycle Network could be forced to abandon large sections of its UK-wide network if a 1km stretch of promenade at Walmer, east Kent, fails to win approval for dual use as a cycle path.
A decision on whether to grant planning consent for the cycle path on Wellington Promenade - earmarked as part of Sustrans' Dover-John O'Groats route and already in use by cyclists - has been held up for nearly two years.
Dover District Council, which made the application, fears that any precedent set by refusing permission to create dual use on a promenade could have a knock-on effect on Sustrans' plans to convert promenades.
Objections from local pedestrians and residents forced the scheme to a public inquiry in September 1996. It has been in limbo since, despite referral to the local MP, the Home Secretary and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. A date for a decision has still not been set.
Dover DC's Tim Ingleton said:'If the proposal is overturned it could lead to conflict on a larger scale.' The precedent for denying conversion, he added, 'will call into question proposals for consideration elsewhere.' The National Cycle Network would be forced to re-plan routes around such no-go zones.