Plans for 4k cycle route through Plymouth woodland are approved
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a café and 4km of cycle trails at Plymbridge Woods have been given the go-ahead.
Mountain bike enthusiasts have clashed with locals over the National Trust's plans for a Plym Valley Cycle Trail.
But after months of campaigning and after hundreds of signatures were scribbled on petitions, councillors have given the scheme the green light.
It will see a £400,000 off-road cycle trail created in the woods, as well as increased car parking.
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Members of Plymouth City Council's planning committee voted in favour of the charity's proposals on the condition a full site management plan is drawn up.
Several critics of the plans voiced concerns at last night's meeting.
Led by the Friends of Plymbridge Woods group, around 500 people put their name to a petition opposing the cycle trails.
They fear an impact on the environment, driving away people such as dog walkers who already use the historic woods, and the potential for accidents between cyclists and pedestrians.
Friends of Plymbridge Woods chairman Arthur Ainslie said: "There's a world of difference between recreational cycle paths and off-road mountain bike trails zig-zagging through woodland."
Local councillor Mike Fox said statistics showed mountain bikers only made up five per cent of people who visited the woodland.
"A substantial number of the other 95 per cent will stop using Plymbridge Woods," he warned.
Fellow Moor View councillor Alison Casey warned of "noise and harm" to wildlife.
But planning officer Alan Williams told the committee there was "unprecedented support" for the plans from cyclists.
National Trust assistant director John Longworth Krafft said afterwards he was "thrilled" councillors had granted the scheme approval.
He added: "We believe that this off-road cycling trail at Plymbridge will really add to the enjoyment of these beautiful woods for those that cycle there already and for new audiences too."
The work will be funded by the charity and the Rural Development Programme for England.