RYEDALE District Council has secured more than £628,000 to develop a new cycle route linking Malton and Pickering.

The route will open up more routes to support cycling tourism and is expected to deliver a £75,000 a year boost to the local economy.

It has has been a long time in development, with the first feasibility work taking place in 2014.

At a meeting of the council's policy and resources committee on Thursday, members unanimously agreed the funding and approved the appointment of contractors to deliver it.

The council said that the route will attract more visitors and benefit the hospitality and service sectors, but also provide greater leisure and recreational opportunities for local residents.

The new paths will fill a missing link between the existing Yorkshire Wolds National Cycle Network and routes through the North York Moors National Park.

Gazette & Herald: The approximate proposed route for the new cycle route between Malton and Pickering. Picture: Google MapsThe approximate proposed route for the new cycle route between Malton and Pickering. Picture: Google Maps

The plan is for Malton to become a 'hub' for sustainable cycle tourism, with cycle tourists coming to the town by train having a choice of routes: south to the Yorkshire Wolds or north to the moors, Dalby forest and the coast.

Addressing the meeting, Cllr Mike Potter welcomed the new route and said: "We've got so little cycling provision in Ryedale but it's got to happen, in terms of air quality, congestion and climate change."

The proposed route follows existing country roads and bridleways, with bridleway sections to be improved using good quality crushed stone to provide a surface suitable for families and less confident cyclists, and to ensure that existing equestrian users are not disadvantaged.

It will pass tourist destinations such as Eden Camp and Flamingo Land.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council and chairman of its policy and resources committee said: “This is a major success for Ryedale District Council and one to celebrate. Delivering sustainable growth is a top priority for us, and this project contributes to that by developing our infrastructure and promoting a strong economy.

"This missing link will not only be well used by locals, but attract tourists too, help keep traffic off our roads and promote physical activity. There is still lots of work to do, but it will definitely be worth it."

The council bid for the money as part of its work to support tourism and to help traders in Ryedale’s market towns through increased visitor numbers.

The money comes from the Rural Development Programme for England (which is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development).

Paul Hepworth from the North Yorkshire committee of the national organisation Cycling UK said: "We are delighted to read of the successful bid by Ryedale District Council to the Rural Development Programme for England.

"The grant application was strongly supported by ourselves plus colleague organisations which constitute the Ryedale Cycle Forum. More inward cycle tourism, residents leisure cycling and short distance shopping plus work journeys in Malton, will contribute to the area's economy.

"We hope that the new route will act as a catalyst for development of longer distance links to York, the Moors and Coast."