£79m set to scope sustainable travel options on the south coast


A JOINT bid by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and Dorset Council, has been awarded £79 million by the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund to make the area’s local transport more sustainable.

The funding gives the green light for the largest sustainable travel programme of change to transport infrastructure ever seen in the area, helping to transform local transport options, connecting local people and local jobs and education.

It means that significant changes can be made to the travel network to help meet the challenges of congestion being experienced and support both Councils’ climate and ecological change ambitions.

Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, commented on the news: “I’m delighted that our bid with Dorset Council has been awarded this money for our Transforming Cities project.

“As part of our Climate and Ecological Emergency declaration, we set an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“This funding is huge and means that we can create so many opportunities for how people access different travel and leisure options.

“With the climate emergency upon us, it’s vital that we give people new options to rethink how they get around, now and for the future.”

Based on the Department for Transport requirements, three bid options were submitted for different funding amounts, each supported by partnership funding from key stakeholders including Dorset Council, Dorset Public Health as well as local bus operators Morebus and Yellow Buses and sustainable transport operators, Beryl Bikes, who will contribute funding towards the overall £98 million programme.

Councillor Andy Hadley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and Dorset Council, said: “The Transforming Cities project will enable us to make key transformations in our local transport options for people who travel by car, on foot, by bicycle or people with mobility assistance needs.

“As well as tackling congestion hotspots that create harmful emissions that blight the health of many people, we’ll be introducing a series of new, better-connected walking and cycling routes so that people can get around much more easily.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the individual projects taking shape – I passionately believe in a vision for a better-connected area.”

Working together, the transport partnership will:

  • Create a series of local transport corridors with improvements to bus, cycle and walking routes, to connect homes to places of work and children and young people to schools and education centres more easily
  • Create a larger and improved network of cycle routes complementing the corridors, connecting homes to work and children young people to schools and education centres more easily
  • See the expansion of a local community bike share scheme
  • Enable access to grant funding for businesses and organisations to create workplace facilities, to encourage sustainable commuting
  • Look at congestion hotspots to see how they can be reconfigured in order to speed up journey times, decrease time spent in traffic queues and improve air quality in the locality

Details about the grant funding scheme for employers for workplace facilities will be publicised shortly.

Dorset Council Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, Councillor Ray Bryan, said: “Our ambitious project with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and Dorset Council, Council will make greener travel significantly easier for residents in east Dorset and encourage more people to leave their cars at home for short journeys to work and school.

“Drivers will often bemoan congested roads and commutes taking longer, but there is no additional capacity to squeeze out of these busy routes – there are simply too many cars on the road. These transport infrastructure improvements will give residents a real choice in travel options and an opportunity to make a new travel plan for their journeys.

“We all have a role to play in reducing emissions by making even a small change in the way we live, work and travel – I’m hopeful that Dorset residents will take up the challenge to think differently about how they travel.”

The programme will have several individual schemes in different areas that will roll out over the next three years.

Each project strand will look to improve transport links across the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole areas, as well creating better links and connectivity between the north to south of the area, from Wimborne, Ferndown and other Dorset outlying areas into the major city hub of Bournemouth.

Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local councils to provide our residents with real transport alternatives that will tackle the climate and ecological emergency and help people get around more easily.

“By working closely with our colleagues at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, we can make a positive impact both in the short-term by easing traffic congestion and also in the longer-term by cutting down carbon emissions from vehicles.

“Improved transport links across the county will better connect the communities we serve, which can only be a good thing for our local economy.

“A renewed focus on active travel via cycling and walking will have obvious health benefits through improved air quality and possibilities for exercise.

“Dorset Council is excited to be part of such an ambitious project that will benefit both the people who live here and visitors to our beautiful county.

“I’m looking forward to working with partners and watching these plans take shape.”