Footpath Secretary (West) Report
Presented at the AGM held on Friday 17th November 2017 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 Neal if you can't find them).
My report starts with a proposal to divert a Bridleway at Whatcombe, near Fawley. Whatcombe is well known for its race horse training by Paul Cole Racing.
The proposal is to divert bridleway Fawley 10 from one side of a hedge to the other side of the hedge, a distance of about. 5m. The current route seen on the plan is in black and runs from point A to point B. This route is also a vehicular driveway. You will note that there are existing electric gates across the Public Bridleway!
The new route seen on the plan is coloured with red dashes and will run from point A to point B via point C where a new bridle gate will be installed. This route is also used by racehorses from point B to point Y to gain access to gallops elsewhere.
Paul Cole Racing say that they get an average of around 100 plus vehicles a day on the public bridleway/vehicular drive. This is the reason for requesting a diversion. My only concerns are that between point B and point Y members of the public could be mixing with expensive racehorses.
You will note that at point X public footpath Fawley 1 will need extending to join into the new route.
Another diversion of note is at Easton Farm House near Welford. Footpath Welford 15 currently runs from point A to point E via X. This route runs near to Easton Farm House and even nearer to some accommodation buildings. Members of the public have said they find this intimidating and use the tarmac road shown on the plan in small black dots.
Several years ago, there was a proposal to divert the footpath along this tarmac road to which the Ramblers Association had no objection, however the Open Spaces Society did and proposed another route which is shown in black dashes on the plan, A, B, C & D. The section between A and B is along the bank of part of the River Lambourn.
The section between D and E is where the public currently walk as the definitive route is across a field occupied by horses.
We have no objection although I personally think members of the public will still use the tarmac road.
I would now like to turn to an outline planning application for up to 119 dwellings on land at Salisbury Road, Hungerford.
Firstly, I have to say that I have an interest in the application as my house borders the proposed area. I therefore have restricted my comments as Footpath Secretary to the footpath that runs through the site and the fact that the proposed site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
I objected to the application on the grounds that an A.O.N.B has a high level of protection and should not be built on other than in exceptional circumstances. The footpath itself will become just another tarmaced path, the applicant describes this as being upgraded!!
Despite my and many other objections the Western Area Planning Committee have accepted the proposals. My fear is now that an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty does not really have any protection at all, indeed what does exceptional circumstances actually mean!?