Ambitious plans to use the Bennerley Viaduct as a cycling and walking route are on hold until funding comes along, the Advertiser has learned.
The charity Sustrans, which owns the Grade-II listed structure, says its plan would bring tourists in to the area in droves and provide a place for the community to have fun and exercise.
But it would need potentially millions of pounds from bodies, such as local councils, the Heritage Lottery funding pot or another source of cash for the plan to go ahead.
Sustrans development manager Martyn Brunt said: “If the Bennerley Viaduct was transformed into a walking and cycling route it could be a fantastic asset for the Ilkeston community, giving residents and tourists the opportunity to explore the Erewash Valley on foot or by bike.
“Sustrans would love to see the viaduct developed into the centre piece of a network of leisure routes throughout the valley, but has so far been unable to secure funding for the project.
“Walking and cycling are fantastic ways to get the exercise we need and developing the Bennerley Viaduct would preserve a piece of national heritage and provide a healthy and fun way to explore the local area.”
The viaduct, which straddles the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, has been out of use since the 1960s and regularly appears on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register of landmark buildings in danger of falling into disrepair.
Of late, it has not been far from the news after a teenager committed suicide there in October last year and a woman was seriously injured in a fall earlier this year.
Cotmanhay councillor Brian Lucas called for councils to ‘get round the table’ to come up with a plan to fund the project.
“It’s definitely time to look at the geography, look at where link-ups can be made to join this monument to the cycling network so it can be saved from further deterioration,” he said.
“There are two communities in both counties that can benefit from this.
“Let’s get interested parties round the table and seriously look at costings and then maybe it can be taken as a serious application.”
He said the plan was mooted as long as 10 years ago when it was found to have some ‘merit’ but was ‘put to bed’.