WORK looks set to start on a major expansion of Rugby's Park Connector Network.
The council has secured a £75,000 grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust to push ahead with plans to create a pathway network linking Lower Hillmorton Road to Lansdowne Place and Fleet Crescent, Whinfield Recreation Ground, Whinfield Wood and Whinfield Cemetery.
The work includes raising, resurfacing and widening existing paths which have been prone to flooding, forcing walkers, runners and cyclists to navigate boggy conditions.
The expansion also includes building new paths leading to - and through - Whinfield Wood, linking to the existing pathways.
Funding for the work was secured following a public consultation earlier this year, when the plans received support from residents and a range of community groups, including Rugby Parkrun, Rugby Disability Forum and Rugby Cycling Forum.
Cllr Howard Roberts, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing, said: "We're delighted to have secured the grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust to push ahead with this latest expansion to the Park Connector Network.
"The feedback we have received from residents suggests strong support for the network, and we're keen to identify further opportunities to expand it across the borough in the future."
The Park Connector Network aims to improve access to open spaces and create a series of 'green' travel corridors to encourage walking and cycling.
In 2020, the council repaired and laid more than 2,000 metres of pathways across the borough.
The Veolia Environmental Trust awards grants through the Landfill Communities Fund to support community and environmental projects.
Andrew Brown, executive director at the Veolia Environmental Trust, said: "We were pleased to support this excellent initiative from Rugby Borough Council.
"The project will not only improve biodiversity by protecting habitats from damage, but will also reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality by promoting walking and cycling."
Over the summer, work to improve flood-prone paths near Whinfield Rec took place in preparation for the Park Connector Network expansion.
The drainage works were supported by a £2,500 'community donation' from EEM, the not-for-profit organisation which drew up the procurement framework for the demolition of Biart Place on behalf of the council.
Supported by council funds, the work included the installation of drainage pipes and improvements to a ditch running alongside the paths, with water now channelled to new drainage crates under the car park at Fleet Crescent.
The car park itself has been relevelled to increase its capacity.
Rebecca Dermody-Simmons, chief executive of EEM, said: "It is our great pleasure to make this donation to Rugby Borough Council.
"As a not-for-profit organisation, we distribute our running surplus to our members based on their usage of our services, and this donation is a direct result of the council's collaborative approach to procurement.
"We are pleased to see the donation used to benefit local communities, with the project delivering long-term results for residents in the area."
The expansion works looks set to be completed by the end of year, weather permitting.
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