Venue: Room 8 Ground Floor South - Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD. View directions
Contact: Greg O'Brien 01344 352044
The Chair welcomed members to the meeting. He was pleased to announce that David Warren had joined the forum. David introduced himself as a member of the Trail Riders Fellowship.
The minutes of the last meeting of the Forum held on 2 October 2018 were approved as a correct record.
The following updates on action points were noted:
(Action: Graham Pockett)
It was noted that Bracknell Forest Homes has changed its name to Silva Homes.
Rose Wicks briefly explained the purpose of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2 (ROWIP2) and the mechanisms of how the actions being delivered would be monitored and reported on. Parks & Countryside (P&C) officers would update members on actions delivered at LCAF meetings, as well as prepare a report by the end of March to present to Bracknell Forest Council’s Departmental Management Team (DMT). Members were invited to share any updates to be included in that report.
Graham Pockett and Rose Wicks presented examples of ROWIP2 actions delivered since the last meeting. These were centred on some of the main policies put forward in the document
Policy 1 Rights of Way for all
Action 10 concerned providing and maintaining an up-to-date online web-based map which was to include detail of potential impediments to access such as gates and stiles. It was confirmed that once the mapping work was complete, that this information would be made available to the public so that they could use this to better plan their recreation/work/school routes.
Work was progressing well to record and map Public Rights of Way (PRoW) furniture such as stiles and gates, with the valuable assistance of volunteer path wardens
Sandhurst was the latest parish being mapped, with an example given of footpaths which were deemed as having only moderate access owing to the five kissing gates along its length.
Work needed to be continued in Crowthorne and the rest of Winkfield once the mapping of Sandhurst had been completed.
A Borough-wide map of PRoW furniture would be used to prioritise resources to improve the network by removing obstacles to access. Consideration will be given to including this type of project as part of future planning obligations.
Members discussed the accessibility of kissing gates to all users, but particularly to wheelchair users, and the need to only provide furniture where it was necessary. BFC were asked to look into the possibility of depicting on the map where animals reside, so this can be used to inform decisions about if furniture was necessary on PRoW, in consultation with the landowner. Rose Wicks proposed to add this detail as part of attributes within the GIS data i.e. not as a symbol on the map, which was already very busy with other symbology.
The focus would be to finish this mapping work, quality check the information and then prioritise removing/updating what’s deemed the least accessible furniture first. Members would be kept informed and involved in this project.
It was proposed to provide volunteer path inspectors with copies of the furniture map for them to check and use in future inspections.
(Action: Rose Wicks, Rob Solomon and Volunteer Path Inspectors)
Policy 2 Fulfil legal duties
Action 17 concerned responding to issues with PRoW. Graham Pockett updated members on the agreed new restriction to come into force to motorised vehicles along a section of the Devil’s Highway, and which was due to coincide with the closure of The Crown Estate car park
New Cabbage Hill path link
It had been proposed to seek a permissive path between Cabbage Hill and Hazelwood Lane to avoid the need to walk along the busy Forest Road.
Thames Water who own the land have indicated their support in principle for the proposed path. They are progressing evaluations of how it might be implemented.
Colin Bird and Rob Solomon met with Ian Crump – the Biodiversity Officer at Thames Water – to discuss the proposal. There was enthusiasm on both sides to move forward.
Thames Water had indicated that they might like to transfer the land to the Council, which prompted Graham Pockett to check if this could be treated as a delegated decision. If the value of the land was under £400,000 then this could be a Director delegated decision i.e. by Andrew Hunter. The Hedgerow Regulations also wouldn’t be a problem due to the small size of the opening required to access the land from Forest Road, opposite Cabbage Hill.
Colin Bird informed the Forum that there were lots of overhanging trees along the route. Members also considered the mast at the top of the hill.
It was suggested that creating a path along the boundary would be simple and inexpensive to do, but that there may be further costs associated with this work; for example Thames Water require a new stock-proof fence to be established along the line of the path.
Ian Crump was due to cost up these works and provide a quote. Members discussed options for funding these works outside of what could be provided by Thames Water.
Rose Wicks has been investigating whether this type of project would likely qualify for funding from S106 developer contributions for open space and recreation enhancements, It would increase the number of people able to access the countryside and rights of way routes and therefore help mitigate the impact of the local developments. A discussion followed re CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) money which would involve liaising with Parish Councils and if the need arose to look at securing development monies then S106 funding might be a simper solution.
Colin Bird proposed setting up another meeting with Graham Pockett, Rose Wicks and Ian Crump to go through the particulars.
(Action: Colin Bird, Graham Pockett, Rose Wicks)
SPA and SANGs
Rose explained that SPAs are Special Protection Areas and SANGs are Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces.
Horseshoe Lake SANG
Rose Wicks provided an update on the Horseshoe Lake proposal which sought to enhance the visitor experience, providing a welcoming place and removing barriers to access.
Councillor Brossard updated that the Executive unanimously agreed in principle to allocate money to this project. It would be necessary to undertake surveys (highway, wildlife, stakeholder consultation).
LCAF members were invited to form a working consultation group. Colin Bird, Jenny Yung, Simon Yates and Councillor Brossard expressed an interest in joining this consultation group.
Amen Corner North – Piglittle Field SANG
Graham Pockett informed members that this site was currently managed by Bellway Homes but due to transfer to Bracknell Forest Council from January 2019. This SANG, which was linked to a neighbouring Wokingham SANG (Stokes Farm), was now open to the public but was difficult to access through the adjacent construction site, although there are public footpath links from Murrellhill Lane and the Coppid Beech roundabout
Broadmoor Farm Meadows
Graham Pockett advised that this site was now open to the public. The site was part of the historic landscape surrounding Broadmoor and included the Butter Stream, wet meadow areas, woodland and a man-made knoll.
Peter Radband expressed regret that the kissing gate was inaccessible to wheelchair users. It was noted that livestock would be grazed there.
Action 22 concerned providing links to circular / multi-use routes in existing and future SANGs with the PRoW network. Rose Wicks informed members that BFC’s Implementation and Infrastructure Team were keen to engage with LCAF and in particular to receive requests for improved links for recreational routes. A spreadsheet has been created which will be distributed to members in order for them to make suggestions for creating new routes and recreational links and send these back to Rose Wicks to then liaise with Planning.
(Action: Rose Wicks
All – to consider any suggestions)
Members discussed the need for better signage for these routes and links and suggested that paths should be formally named. “The Hooks” was suggested as a name for the new Thames Water path as this is the name of the woods on the adjacent Warfield Hall land.
Graham Pockett presented the following examples of securing links, which had been provided by BFC Planning. Each one showed maps and descriptions:
(Action: Rose Wicks)
There was an existing route running through ... view the full minutes text for item 107.
It was requested that members be more proactive in proposing ideas for site visit. It was suggested that members could develop a “SANG tour” programme of evening visits during the summer months. The next visit after TRL would be Frost Folly Park (Wellers Lane) which was being managed by BFC although hadn’t yet transferred to BFC. Members suggested visiting Horseshoe Lake to develop a clearer understanding of the proposal to turn this into a country park.
Members discussed the need for greater publicity of new open spaces. Rose Wicks informed that there were mechanisms in place for publicity including a SANGS webpage on the BFC website and a SANGS leaflet pack which was regularly distributed to libraries and council offices. Rose Wicks would bring copies to the next meeting of LCAF. It was proposed that new SANGS could also be added as news items on the BFC website.
(Actions: Rose Wicks)
Members questioned whether LCAF had contact with Thames Valley Heath Partnership. Rose Wicks advised that P&C and the rangers had contact details and indicated she was looking to invite Sarah or another representative to a future LCAF meeting.
Rose Wicks expressed apologies that the draft had been delayed. The draft annual report would be distributed to members once it has been completed for members’ feedback before being finalised and published online.
Rose Wicks informed the Forum that there had been no request so far from Natural England about the need for LAFs to submit an annual review form for 18/19 financial year. This reflected last year’s stance, whereby LCAF will upload their own annual (calendar year) report to Huddle unless Natural England suggest otherwise. Members expressed regret that the annual LAF conferences had stopped and that national and regional support had been cut, as it was important for LAFs to maintain the network of contact at a regional and national level.
Hugh Fitzwilliams advised that there had been a vast rush of development applications in Warfield. Colin Bird added that these were not always on designated sites on the Local Plan and expressed regret that there had been three applications north of Forest Road in this year alone.
It was suggested that a member of the planning team e.g. Simon Cridland be invited to the next LCAF meeting to give an overview on development applications and the work being done by BFC to mitigate for the impact of local development.
(Action: Rose Wicks)
Any Other Business
David Warren advised the Forum that the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) was set up to promote responsible riding. TRF would be able to offer assistance to councils to clear overgrown vegetation along byways or potentially donate funds for resurfacing works. It was suggested to talk to Rob Solomon regarding the schedule of works.
(Action: Rob Solomon)
David Warren informed that TRF could assist at horse events. Jenny Yung offered to put David in touch with the British Horse Society.
(Action: Jenny Yung)
Jenny Yung advised that the British Horse Society would like to know if there are any unclaimed bridleways.
Councillor Brossard praised the rangers for an excellent job during the snow.
Peter Radband expressed that he was perplexed by the new Crowthorne Forest sign as it was listed as Crowthorne Woods on the OS maps.
It was noted that the Horseshoe Lake bridleway was not showing on the Definitive Map and this should be looked into.
(Action: Graham Pockett)
Councillor Finch expressed a willingness to publicise things for LCAF in his capacity as Borough Mayor.
It was suggested that rangers could run a series of events “introducing you to our new SANGS”.
Members agreed that this style of room was preferable to meeting in the Council Chamber.
Public Question Time
(Maximum 10 Minutes)
Jennie Green asked when the new SANG development at Wellers Lane was due to open. Graham Pockett advised that he was not sure. Hugh Fitzwilliams added that Warfield Council were responsible for the car parking provision for this new SANG in addition to the existing one at Frost Folly. Jennie expressed regret that all the bins at Frost Folly were in the car park at Frost Folly, whereas they were distributed right across the Cabbage Hill SANG.
Future Chair of the Forum
To note that Peter Radband will be stepping down following this meeting. In order to enable officers to plan the next meeting in conjunction with the Chairman, the Group is invited to appoint his successor.
It was noted that Peter Radband would be stepping down from the Forum following this meeting. In order to enable officers to plan the next meeting in conjunction with the Chair, the Group was invited to appoint his successor.
Expressions of interest had been received from Richard Mosses (current Vice Chair) and Colin Bird. Rose had provided members with an overview of the time commitment required to deliver the role of LCAF Chair. Richard felt that he couldn’t always commit this time and was happy for Colin to step forward as he felt that his interest in cycling as well as walking would make him more qualified
A motion to nominate Colin Bird as Chair of the Local Countryside Access Forum was moved by Councillor Brossard and seconded by Hugh Fitzwilliams and a recorded vote was requested. On being put to the Forum the voting on the motion was as follows:
For (10) Councillors Brossard and Finch, Peter Radband, Mike Abbott, Colin Bird, Richard Elsbury, Hugh Fitzwilliams, David Warren, Simon Yates and Jenny Yung
It was therefore
RESOLVED that Colin Bird be elected Chair of the Local Countryside Access Forum.
COLIN BIRD IN THE CHAIR
The forum expressed their thanks to Peter Radband and he was presented with a gift from the forum in recognition and appreciation of his sixteen years’ service to the Forum.
Date of Next Meeting
11 June 2019
The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 11 June 2019.