Plans to boost cycling and walking access on canal towpath around Hebden Bridge progress

Wheels are in motion for a £2.1m scheme to improve cycling and walking access on a 6km section of the Rochdale Canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, as part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot.

At a meeting of the Combined Authority on Thursday 14 February, approval was given to progress plans for the scheme, which will form part of the Calder Valley cycle route.

The plans include resurfacing and widening the canal towpath, building on improvements to a 10km section between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, and providing communities along the Calder Valley with a traffic-free, flat and attractive alternative route to the A646.

The scheme, which will use Department for Transport funding secured by the Combined Authority and Calderdale Council, with additional contributions from both organisations, will be delivered in partnership with Canal & River Trust.

The route will add to those already constructed and under construction in the area which will ultimately provide of a continuous off road cycle way across Calderdale, from Brighouse to Todmorden.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Calderdale Council and Canal & River Trust to improve this section of the Rochdale Canal, which will provide people travelling by bike or on foot through the valley with a safe, scenic traffic-free route all year round.

“As well as providing missing links in local cycling and walking infrastructure, these improvements – alongside other schemes across the region – are helping open up access to some of our best countryside.

“Through our CityConnect programme, the Combined Authority is working in partnership to connect people to opportunities for employment, training and leisure, and encourage more of us to travel in a way which benefits our health, the environment and our economy.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Cllr Barry Collins, said: “This is another step forward in the development of our canal towpaths providing safe and convenient options for cycling or walking.

“By improving the canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, it will enable us to provide a safer, traffic-free option for this busy route, and help us achieve better outcomes for air quality and reduced congestion.

“Improving facilities and increasing options for active travel is also an essential part of our Active Calderdale mission, encouraging people to be more active however they choose.”

The works between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden are due to start in the spring with the scheme completed by autumn.

The project is part of a wider package of canal towpath improvements being delivered across the region through the CityConnect programme, including between Huddersfield and Milnsbridge on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and between Silsden and Riddlesden on the Leeds Liverpool Canal as part of the Airedale Greenway.

Improvements to a 2km section of the Calder and Hebble Navigation Towpath between Sowerby Bridge Basin and Hollas Lane Bridge, linking to the existing Calder Valley Greenway, provide a traffic free cycling and walking route towards Halifax, Elland and Brighouse.

Find out more information about this and other CityConnect projects.