The Forum noted that the Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2 (ROWIP2) had now been published and made available in hard copy and online. Initial publicity had been by way of a press release and promotion at an outdoor cinema event during the summer. Further publicity would be arranged through an article in the next edition of Town and Country, with copies of the Plan to be circulated to Natural England, neighbouring authorities and LAFs. A great deal of work and activity had been put into producing ROWIP2 and co-ordinating the work to begin delivering the actions set out.
Graham Pockett and Rose Wicks gave a presentation of ROWIP2, centred on the main policies put forward in the document, with some examples of how these would be implemented.
Policy 1 Rights of Way for all
Work was progressing with the help of the voluntary wardens to identify and map stiles and gates across the rights of way network, with a view to identifying those causing a hindrance to access, in need of improvement or removal if no longer required. An example was given of a footpath in Warfield which could be rated as having only moderate access owing to the three kissing gates on its length. Modification of stiles or gates on some paths was more complicated where agreement with multiple landowners was required. Binfield Parish had expressed interest in an audit of its RoW as well as paths across its open spaces being carried out.
Mapping work had been completed for three Parishes in the Borough. This now needed to be continued, for priorities to be set for where improvements were required and for more information on paths and routes to be uploaded to the website.
Policy 2 Fulfil legal duties
This entailed, for instance, responding to issues or faults reported. A case in point was the Sandhurst 13 path (Calvert Walk) where tree roots had caused an uneven surface in the path. A solution had been proposed which would involve raising the level of the tarmac surface. Members also discussed if this urban footpath should be turned into a cycleway, as it provided a valuable link to Uplands Primary School. It was decided that the works to resurface the affected section of the footpath should be implemented, as it would take time to explore and implement the cycleway option.
Other actions concerned the processing of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs), for instance an Order to close Avery Lane had taken effect on 3 September 2018. This was to enable the continuation of work on the Redrow development at Newell Green. When the RoW re-opened it would be provided with a horse crossing and segregated cycle/pedestrian routes and include effective measures to prevent use by motorised vehicles. Notices were being prepared for the temporary closure of Warfield 17 (Pendry’s Lane) and the alternative route to be provided. The contractor would be required to take measures to ensure tree roots weren’t significantly damaged during the works, and to restore the route following completion of the works. This included, providing a surface that followed guidance by the British Horse Society and re-instating the gulley at the side.
Policy 3 Routes and links
Work on the design of a new logo for LCAF was being finalised and it was hoped to share the design with Forum members shortly. The logo would initially be used for the LCAF letterhead and then for publicity leaflets and other documentation.
Action under the heading of new routes or improvement to existing routes included the proposal put to Thames Water regarding a permissive path between Cabbage Hill and Hazelwood Lane (to avoid the need to walk the busy Forest Road). It was hoped that further approaches would bring about this improvement.
Policy 4 Information and marketing
The Forum noted some of the information and publicity undertaken:
· Pre-roll video before an outdoor cinema event, which advertised LCAF membership, publication of ROWIP2 and the 100km of traffic-free cycle routes in the Borough.
· Public Health publicity about the benefits of walking/exercise, through Self-care Week and other media.
· Website information on rights of way updated to make it more accessible to the public.
Reference was made to the action to review and update the three Accessible Rural Route Guides (Jock's Lane and The Cut, Larks Hill and West End, Frost's Folly and Warfield Church), each of which had been rendered out of date by recent development and other changes. It was proposed to remove the guides from the website with a view to replacement with a series of new leaflets with suggested walks across the Borough. Robert Solomon volunteered to lead an LCAF working group to assist in the development of a number of suitable routes, which could be graded with a difficulty rating. A review of intermediate routes on the website was also necessary, and the information coming through from the mapping of gates, stiles etc could inform the process. It was proposed to circulate an email to members following the meeting outlining ways to volunteer assistance.
(Action: Rose Wicks, Robert Solomon
All – to consider volunteering)
Policy 5 Responsible use
This included working with the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership to encourage responsible use of the PRoW in the Special Protection Area, particularly during the nesting season (especially important for the 3 protected species - Dartford warbler, nightjar and woodlark). It was suggested that the Warden be invited to come to speak at the next LCAF meeting (or if not available provide an update for members).
(Action: Rose Wicks)
Policy 6 Preserve Rural Character
This was about trying to preserve the nature and appearance of ancient paths and byways in the context of surrounding new development and other recent changes. This would include the preservation of surfaces and hedgerows alongside RoW, for example the proposals for Avery Lane at Newell Green.
Policy 7 Sustainable benefits
The importance of this policy was supported by statistics from a recent report from Monitor on Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE). This showed increasing numbers of people are choosing to visit the natural environment, are doing so more regularly, and that the most frequent visitors are from the 16 – 24 year old age group. Also, the Council’s website received a very high number of hits on its cycling pages.
With health and exercise being the main motivation, this emphasised the importance of working with Public Health; a link to the relevant Public Health website pages would be included in the minutes when circulated.
(Action: Rose Wicks)
Policy 8 Working in partnership
Members were informed of the dates of meetings of neighbouring LAFs which were open to anyone to attend. Interested members were asked to contact Rose Wicks.
Policy 9 Raise strategic profile
This included such matters as the new logo design and the recruitment of new members to LCAF.