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Connect2 project bags £50 million Lottery prize

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The winner of the much-anticipated Big Lottery Fund's £50 million People's Choice prize is charity Sustrans' Connect2 – a UK-wide project to create new cycling and walking routes across the country.

The scheme, which will involve a number of architects and engineers, will aim to improve local travel in 79 communities across the country.

Chief executive and founder of Sustrans, John Grimshaw, said: ‘To say I am delighted is such an understatement – this is fantastic news for Sustrans. But, more importantly, it is fantastic for the 79 communities and many other partners and local authorities across the UK with whom we have been working for the last two years.

‘We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported us, but the hard work starts now to build those bridges, tunnels, crossings and networks of paths.’

The Sustrans team saw off high-profile competition in the shape of Grimshaw Architects’ Eden Project extension, The Edge; Make’s Sherwood Forest visitor centre; and Moxon Architects and Knight Architects’ Black Country Urban Park.

A Make spokeswoman said: ‘We are immensely proud to have been part of such a fantastic proposal. Even though it was not in the end the winning bid, we hope that the Sherwood Forest: The Living Legend project has brought this amazing part of our country to the public’s attention.

‘Sherwood Forest is a natural resource of immense historical and ecological significance; we hope that the fantastic aims of this project can be realised in some other way so that this natural treasure can be protected and preserved for future generations.’

Martin Knight of Knight Architects said: ‘I am delighted for Sustrans – their Connect2 project will improve physical access and communications for many, many people, although I feel their work should be right at the heart of government transport policy and not in competition with one-off ‘good-cause’ projects for development funding.

'The decision is obviously very disappointing for the Black Country Urban Park team and we will have to wait and see what the future of the [scheme's subterranean] Strata project will be.’

Jolyon Brewis, partner at Grimshaw, said: 'We are disappointed that the Eden Project has not won with The Edge. It is a remarkable project, with the potential to have a very positive impact and we hope that it will be realised in the future.

'We would like to congratulate Sustrans on its success and wish them all the best with the ongoing development of the project.'

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