A NEW walking and cycling route will be created along the disused Bolton to Bury railway, after councillors gave plans the green light.

The Bolton East Cycle Way will run from Gorses Road, along the New House Farm playing fields in Breightmet down to the old railway line, along the Bury boundary and inside green belt territory.

The path will be shared by pedestrians and cyclists, with the council also looking to create ‘link’ sections on Harpford Drive, Harpford Close and Willand Drive.

A second application is due in the summer, which, if approved would take the route over the Darcy Lever viaduct and back to Gorses Road.

Residents had sent objection letters to the council ahead of Thursday’s meeting, arguing that by opening up the land, it could mean the return of off-road motorcycles and a rise in anti-social behaviour.

However Breightmet councillor Lynda Byrne applauded the scheme.

She said: “I think a cycle track through Breightmet will be of significant benefit not just to cyclists, but for pedestrians making their way from Bury to Bolton.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said the cycle route was part of a strategy that recognises cycling can offer economic and health benefits, as well as an alternative way to travel.

He said: “As part of this strategy, Bolton to Bury cycle route forms part of Regional Cycle Route 80.

“The Bolton to Bury off-road cycle route will offer a safe, traffic free route for walking and cycling enabling access to Bolton town centre and Bolton interchange, as well as the existing off-road cycle network to enable access to employment and residential areas to the south and west of the borough. It will provide a safe route for recreational cycling, walking and horse riding for all ages and abilities.”