A major project to create a series of new multi-user trails in Cornwall is now making “significant progress” councillors have been told.

The Saints Trails are set to provide a new set of routes which can be used for cycling and walking in Cornwall. Under the plans there will be four trails – one from Perranporth to Newquay, another from St Newlyn East to Carland Cross, one from Idless to Trispen and the last from St Agnes to Truro.

However the project, which is budgeted at £19.1million, had been called into question after it was forecast that it could go as much as £6million over budget and not be delivered on time.

Phil Mason, strategic director for economic growth at Cornwall Council, has provided an update to the council’s audit committee.

He said: “We have made some substantial and significant progress.” He then explained that work was underway to secure land needed for the trails and that the council had also reduced the costs of the project to bring the forecast spend down to £19.7million.

Mr Mason said that while this was still currently over the budget for the project he was confident that the entire scheme would be delivered on budget and on time.


He told the committee that one “significant” land acquisition had been completed this week which would help to bring costs down and also improve the overall scheme.

The director admitted that the council may still have to use compulsory purchase orders to acquire other parcels of land which are required.

He added: “We are only using compulsory purchase orders where we think we won’t make headway with negotiations for the land.

“I apologise that we haven’t made as quick progress as I would have liked but we have made progress with the forecast cost.”

Mr Mason explained that the forecast cost had been reduced thanks to a review of construction costs. However he admitted that the land acquisition costs were still a significant risk. But he said that risk would reduce as the council secured more heads of terms for the land.

Councillors had previously expressed concerns about how the maintenance of the trails would be paid for. Mr Mason said that there would be some funding from Highways England, which is already providing £17m for the project, and said the council would also create “commercial opportunities” such as cycle hire schemes which could generate funds.

He also said that the overall maintenance of the trails would be underwritten by the council’s highways maintenance budget.

When questioned by councillors Mr Mason said that one substantial land purchase had been completed and three more were “virtually ready to complete”.

He said that a further “35 or 36” land deals were at an advanced stage and that the council was “confident that we will follow that through”.

Another 15 land acquisitions are “further back” but Mr Mason said that progress was being made. It is hoped that the entire project could be complete by March 2023.

The audit committee requested that a further update on the project is provided in three months’ time.