South Yorkshire awarded only 20% of Active Travel Funding due to rejected bids

Of the £11,493,770 in Active Travel Funding Tranche 3 that South Yorkshire bid for from the Department for Transport (DfT), only a fraction – £2,669,947 – has been awarded. One scheme was approved each in Sheffield and Doncaster but the majority of proposals were rejected, with Rotherham and Barnsley not receiving a penny. This is an incredibly disappointing and avoidable situation. 

Compare and contrast this to Liverpool and Manchester city regions who gained £11.7 million and £13 million in funding respectively. Up the road in West Yorkshire, they received £7 million for active travel from this round of funding. 

A package of much needed business grants did not make the cut, neither did e-bike loans or safer school crossings or a series of upgrades to the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT). A major theme is that while the off-road green routes are popular, the money for upgrades was not approved as it was not seen as “ambitious” enough. Active Travel England and the DfT made it clear, they want all new schemes to follow 5 key principles:

Many of the proposed schemes, especially by Barnsley, failed to provide direct and coherent routes, favouring bids for off-road routes. The two successful schemes in Sheffield and Doncaster involve reallocating road space to provide safe, direct and high standard cycle paths, separated from pedestrian space. 

Approved schemes:

Doncaster – Jossey Lane to Highfield Connectivity 

Sheffield – East Bank Road

“This scheme builds an active travel route enhancement from Granville Square along East Bank Road to connect into the communities of Heeley, Arbourthorne, Meersbrook, Gleadless Valley and more.  The route will feed into the proposed Sheaf Valley Cycle Route which is currently progressing and onward to a number of TCF proposals.   

The area contains major employment sites and educational institutions including Sheffield College and connects to Sheffield Midland Railway Station.  The route identified in this scheme is largely free from bus movements to avoid conflict with heavier vehicles.  The route also connects with the Sheaf Valley via a spur from Queens Road to Duchess Road.  ”

(Quote from ATF3 Bid)

‘Mini-Holland’ feasibility study

The South Yorkshire allocation includes £78,947 for mini-Holland feasibility study funding for Darnall. 

Rejected schemes:

Rotherham – Broom Road Extension

The proposed scheme contained several design flaws, such as protection ‘giving up’ at junctions which is contrary to modern cycle design standards and likely the reason for refusal. Even though this was an “on-road” scheme.

TPT/green route upgrades:

Lastly, in Sheffield, the route from Darnall to the Advanced Manufacturing Park seems to have been rejected as it was to upgrade a largely off-road and unlit route. The route also failed to provide a direct enough route.

The final disappointment was that DfT refused to pay for much needed safer crossings of Abbey Lane within Ecclesall Woods & between Crookes Valley/Weston Park and the Ponderosa. 

However, all is not lost.

We urge the new Mayor, Oliver Coppard & the 4 local authorities to work with Active Travel England to submit a much stronger and more ambitious bid for the next deadline in August 2022. There is around £10 million up for grabs in the next round of funding and we would be happy to meet with the mayor and councillors to talk about suggestions for this.

The East Bank Road, Great North Road schemes and Connecting Sheffield schemes show that South Yorkshire can get funding for high quality active travel schemes from the government. Any new bid from South Yorkshire should meet the standards and ambition of these schemes. There are still several easy wins active travel routes in Sheffield including routes to the hospitals, a comprehensive low traffic neighbourhood plan and major potential cycling routes including Penistone Road, Ecclesall Road and Abbeydale Road. These interventions are required to start creating an active travel network in Sheffield.

We look forward to the response from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority who have thus far been silent on the failure of the Active Travel Fund 3 bid and who have not yet celebrated the success of the Mini-Holland feasibility study money for Sheffield.

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