Stowmarket: Dispute continues over National Cycle Route 51 at the Museum of East Anglian Life

John Matthissen and Poppy Robinson at the strip of land near Crowe Street in Stowmarket which is a n

John Matthissen and Poppy Robinson at the strip of land near Crowe Street in Stowmarket which is a no cycling footpath. The national cycle path has to divert and cyclists often go the wrong way up the one-way high street. - Credit: Archant

The only missing link in an important cycle route through the Suffolk countryside is a small plot of land in Stowmarket, according to councillors.

National Cycle Route 51 includes a stretch between Newmarket and Felixstowe and goes through Bury St Edmunds, Needham Market and Ipswich.

But when riders travel through Stowmarket they are being left bewildered as they are told to dismount on the cycle route before a small section of land called The Camping Land, near the Museum of East Anglian Life.

Mid Suffolk district councillors Poppy Robinson and John Matthissen said the cycle route dispute – involving the landowner Abbot’s Hall Trust, Suffolk County Council and transport charity Sustrans – had been going on for about 20 years.

Mrs Robinson said: “For people who do not know the area there’s nothing to tell them where to go and they can go up through the town the wrong way which is very dangerous. It’s not fair on the people who cycle – they need to know where they are going.”

A new cycle path was created outside the museum as part of Route 51 which runs adjacent to Abbot’s Hall. But the councillors argue the path should then take cyclists through The Camping Land instead of being re-routed into the town centre. Currently a sign instructs cyclists to dismount if they want to go through The Camping Land. Nicholas Longe, chairman of the Abbot’s Hall Trust, said he would back any decision the museum, which has a 125-year lease of the site, makes over the land.

He said: “Sustrans has not been in touch with me for donkey’s years. The onus for dealing with this lies with the museum.

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“We have asked them to provide their views, which we will support. They have got to decide what they want.”

But he said the land was meant to a “peaceful area” for the community and building a “highway” through the land would be against that.

The director of the museum, Tony Butler, said he was adamant it was the landowner who had the power to make the decision.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Previously the county council has attempted to discuss improving this stretch of the route with the landowners but have been unsuccessful. We will however continue to look into this.”

Anthony Wright, area manager for Sustrans, said the charity would continue to offer support to the county council in developing the cycle route.