PLANS for a new cycling route linking the town with one of the Halstead area’s most popular visitor destinations in an idyllic village are set to be drawn up.

Halstead Town Council is working with parish councils in Earls Colne, Colne Engaine and Chappel on the project, which could see the old railway line brought back into use after more than 50 years.

The new cycle path would connect Halstead to Chappel - a distance of more than six miles - along the railway line, which used to connect the two until Halstead Station closed in 1962.

It is hoped the move will help improve air quality in the area, with commuters as well as leisure riders able to use the route to get to work or the popular East Anglian Railway Museum, which is based at Chappel Station.

The councils are working together to draw up proposals. They would need to be rubber stamped by Essex County Council, which manages cycling infrastructure across the county.

It is hoped grants will be available to help fund the project.

County councillor for Halstead, Jo Beavis (Ind), is supporting the proposal.

She said: “I’m looking forward to learning more about this project. It’s being locally led and I hope it gains gravitas.

“We need to improve air quality in Halstead, we need to reduce congestion in Halstead and the surrounding villages and we need to reduce our carbon footprint and so the project ticks a lot of win, win boxes.

“We also need to live well and fresh air and cycling lends itself to supporting healthy lifestyles.

“Halstead and the surrounding rural landscape has a long history of cycling initiatives for physical and metal wellbeing and again the project supports this.”

The proposals were discussed by members of Halstead Town Council during a public meeting on Monday.

Councillors were interested in the idea but said further planning and meetings needed to take place over the coming months.

Andrew Munday, Halstead mayor and town council chairman, addressed the proposals at the meeting.

He said: “This report is just to say that we are taking the initiative forward and it will come back as an agenda item at some point, so I’m going to propose that we note the report and it comes back to the council.

“I’d like to see some costs so while I’m quite happy to agree to initial meetings I certainly don’t want to burden our council with unnecessary costs.

“The council agrees to initial meetings to explore this item and cost should come back to the council for its approval in the future.”