PLANS to improve paths along the Sunderland and East Durham coast will be put forward this week.
Proposals for an improved coastal access route from South Bents are published for consultation tomorrow, marking the first stages of the England Coast Path project.
Natural England will set out ideas for an enhanced pathway to be created along the 34 miles of coast from Sunderland to Hartleppol that will provide greater access for residents and visitors where they can rest, relax and admire the view. Much of the current footpath along the Wearside coast has been affected by erosion.
The new plans see the footpath move inland or “roll back” on about half of the stretch, which means the new route would be secure in the future.
Natural England, Durham County Council, Hartlepool Borough Council and Sunderland City Council have in the last few months met landowners to walk the course and discuss where the new route could go.
Proposals for the route are now open for public consultation and Natural England is hoping to hear the views of Wearsiders.
Adrian Vass, Natural England’s area manager said: “For the next 12 weeks we are inviting residents, visitors and businesses to have their say on how we secure this landmark route. It’s important that all responses are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.”
Niall Benson, Heritage Coast officer who works on behalf of the three councils covering the stretch, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to improve access to the North East coast.
“It will help to safeguard public access in the future and provide a continuous stretch for people to walk and enjoy.
“The consultation is about people being able to have their say on the draft proposals to make sure Natural England and ourselves get things right. We encourage anyone with an interest in coastal access to take a look at the plans, talk to us if there are questions or concerns and send in views.”
The public consultation will close on August 3. The proposals will then be finalised and submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
l Copies of the plans and comment forms will be available online at www.naturalengland.org.uk/coastalaccess and will be displayed in libraries and tourist information centres along the stretch.