The Glastonbury Town Deal has secured £23.6 million investment for the town, representing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver the objectives outlined in the Town Investment Plan

The Robert Richards Initiative

Lead Organisation: Somerset Council

To deliver 2.5 kms of walking and cycling paths, with infrastructure to be agreed, and to provide opportunities for business and skills support.  The aims are to connect people with nature and to better link with the Somerset Levels & Moors.


  • Towns Fund:  £2.68m
  • Co-Funding:  Potential funding being explored


  • Number of start-ups and/or scaleups:  10
  • Other:  improved health from cycling and walking:  800 people
  • Other:  visitors to demonstration website:  12,000 PA

Key Project Themes

  • Help tackle Climate Change
  • Grow the Economy
  • Reduce Deprivation
  • Improve Health and Wellbeing
  • Green infrastructure


  • Will act as a focus for solutions to address climate change and ecological decline, as well as health and wellbeing.
  • Addresses need in Glastonbury to provide outside space to mitigate virus issues.
  • Addresses need for skills training to attract good green jobs
  • Recognises that climate change and pandemic issues necessitate the need to change the way we live and work

Project Summary

Named after and dedicated to the first Chair of the Glastonbury Town Deal Board, the Robert Richards Initiative is a multi-strand sustainability project that encompasses education & training, sustainable builds and green infrastructure.

A new website and learning platform has been created in collaboration with the Open University. This provides a comprehensive range of courses around sustainability, skills development and wellbeing, most of which are free.  The partnership with the Open University is the first of its kind nationally.

There are two projects (Baily’s Buildings and The Life Factory) which are being funded to deliver sustainable build solutions that showcase what can be achieved when redeveloping derelict buildings.

Improving green infrastructure is an important aspect of this project, with the creation of 2.5km of paths for use by walkers and cyclists. These will link with existing pathways and Town Deal projects.  It is anticipated a new affordable electric bike hire scheme can be introduced.

Overall, the Robert Richards Initiative aims to boost awareness of sustainability issues, raise knowledge and skill levels for local residents, and support Glastonbury in becoming a carbon neutral town by 2030.


Project FAQs – Paths

How will the Town Deal funding improve walking and cycling in Glastonbury?
The Robert Richards Initiative aims to improve both utility routes (journeys taken for essential trips such as work, school and shopping trips) and recreational routes (leisure trips for pleasure such as running, dog walking or learning to ride a bike) by creating or improving access routes around the town.

Where will the paths be?
The first paths were installed in 2023, these go around the edge of the playing fields at the Tor Sports & Leisure site. We will install a second path at Beckery in 2024.  Other paths are still being agreed.

What surface will the paths be?
Paths will be unsealed limestone dust or hoggin (a mix of gravel, sand and clay) which allow for drainage.

Will the paths be a new right of way?
The paths will be permissive paths which will enable the landowner to carry out any maintenance works without having to apply for a formal closure or diversion. This will be agreed via a legal document to protect the access.

When will the works be completed?
The paths will all be delivered at different times and all will be completed by March 2026.