Footpath Secretary (East) Report
Presented at the AGM held on Friday 11th November 2016 in the Mencap Hall Newbury. Documents shown at the meeting are not included due to questions of copyright - most may be viewed on the West Berkshire Council website (contact Doug if you can't find them)
This area takes in the parishes of West Ilsley, East Ilsley and Compton to the North in a fairly broad band with Winterbourne in the West and Hermitage in the East. to Enborne, Newbury and Thatcham in the South.
There is much activity from the Planning Department who inform us of all Applications which may impact on the footpath network in the area. These Applications are filtered out so that each Footpath Secretary only receives material that is relevant to their particular zone. Many of them involve house renovations, changes in commercial signage, new conservatories etc which can be dismissed for our purposes.
I have chosen a few of these Applications for this meeting which may be of most interest.
Plantation Farmhouse Free Range Egg Laying unit
Last year I mentioned that the proposed boundaries for this project encroached on Footpath BEED/21/4 and would have needed some sort of gate arrangement to allow walkers through but stop chickens escaping. (See Beedon original)
A new application has been submitted (17/01235/COMIND) which has changed the boundaries of the development to take into account this footpath.
The access road to the site still crosses footpath BEED/16/1 and no comment has been made in the revised application about the risks to walkers from HGVs. At a site meeting arranged by the Planning Committee on the 3rd of August, to which interested parties were invited, the landowner explained that the surface of the access road would support heavy loads and would not present a broken path to walkers. There would also be warning splays installed to alert both drivers and walkers of crossing traffic. (See Beedon revised map).
The Application was approved on August 30th this year subject to Conditions.
Proposed Diversion of Public Footpath at Honeybottom, Shaw-cum-Donnington
One of the challenges we have is when Applications are made to close or divert footpaths. In the case of closing footpaths we robustly object to any such plans. The footpath network is protected by law for good reasons and we need the accessibility that it provides whatever explanation a planner would put forward.
In the case of footpath diversions we do not accept plans that are put forward if they are only beneficial to the landowner. We try to look for compromises that enhance the walking experience for path users as well as help the landowner to remove a possibly challenging situation from their property.
Such a situation exists at the above property where footpath SHAW/20 passes within metres of a property called Walnut Cottage (see photo Honeybottom diversion). This issue was first raised back in 2008 when Neal was footpath secretary and a diversion was proposed. This is labelled A – D – C on the drawing. This takes the path around the edge of a field a few hundred metres to the West of Walnut Cottage . It did not add any complications to the path but did open up a scenic vista to the west. After carefully considering this new layout for the path Neal wrote to the owner indicating that the Ramblers would raise no objections to this plan.
The plan was then considered to be of low priority by the Council until this year when the Countryside Group at West Berks Council elevated it to high priority. After re-confirming our acceptance of the plan they have sent a report to Head of Service giving it approval to proceed with the diversion. We don’t know when it will be invoked but the landowner will be paying for the administration and advertising costs.
So we believe this will be a win-win solution that should give all parties satisfaction with the outcome.
This completes my report and hopefully gives a flavour of the work we do.