A DISUSED railway viaduct in Winchester is a step closer to becoming a cycle path.

A city council planning committee unanimously granted permission for the Hockley Viaduct to become Route 23 of the National Cycle Network connecting Reading to Southampton.

The route begins at the South Winchester Park and Ride and leads into the city centre, incorporating the viaduct.

Essential repairs are need for the structure to join the route and planning permissions was one of the last obstacles standing in the way.

Cllr Therese Evans said: “I think this is a very important development and a long term cycle route will be very beneficial to the area and Winchester.”

Cllr Ray Pearce added: “It’s always been a sad thing the viaduct was in such a bad state. I’m highly delighted something is being done at last. The only thing is I hope they can put a plaque up there to highlight it was the old Great Western Railway there.”

Plans have already been approved by the council cabinet to spend around £400,000 to bring the Victorian structure up to standard.

The council have brought in transport charity Sustrans to oversee the repairs which are set to begin in July.