Agenda and minutes

Local Countryside Access Forum - Tuesday, 11 October 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Zoom Meeting. View directions

Contact: Joanna Gibbons  01344 352044


No. Item




The chair welcomed the forum to the meeting.  Nicholas Ballard was welcomed as a new member of the forum.  Rory Kerr was also welcomed as an observer in his role as forest warden at The Crown Estate.




Apologies were received from David Warren and Jenny Yung.  It was noted that Jane Rimmer had left the forum.


Minutes of Last Meeting and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 7 June 2022 were approved as a correct record.


A summary of progress on the action points from the meeting was included in Appendix 1 of the agenda reports pack.  Colin Bird noted that the actions were progressing well.


Arising from minute 224, Colin Bird highlighted the action for Graham Pockett and Colin to discuss facilitation of a planning subgroup.  This was discussed but had not yet been activated.  Colin requested an action to progress setting up a meeting of the subgroup.  (Action: Colin Bird and Graham Pockett)


PRoW Improvements/Issues pdf icon PDF 154 KB


Drainage work along Winkfield FP6

Rob Solomon explained that the drainage issue had been rectified, improving access along the footpath.


Surface improvements along Sandhurst FP14

BFC gained consent from Natural England for works on the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) to make surface improvements to the footpath.  It was hoped that this would make it more accessible when conditions were wet. 


New boardwalk on Warfield FP7

A new boardwalk had been installed to improve access to a seasonally wet section of Warfield FP7.  Funding came through the South East Berks Ramblers, and it was installed by Bracknell Conservation Volunteers (BCVs).  The path was becoming increasingly important, being part of the Bracknell Forest Ramblers’ Route and linking the new Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANGs) at Frost Folly and Windmill Farm.


Surface improvements along Sandhurst FP15

Surface improvements have been made to Sandhurst FP15.  This is a narrow footpath linking Branksome Hill Road to College Road, providing a useful route for school children and residents accessing local shops. 


Winkfield FP10

Colin Bird thanked Rob for arranging the footbridge to be fixed on the same day as reporting it.  Rob explained that it was prioritised as a health and safety issue.


The Crown Estate

Rory Kerr introduced himself and his role as a forest warden at The Crown Estate.  The vast majority of Crown Estate land had public access.  Rory was invited by Colin Bird to raise any issues of access and the forum would be happy to discuss.  Furthermore, the forum would like to better understand The Crown Estate’s intentions for public access to Whitmoor Bog from access points following some representations from the public, other than the section where the fence was repaired by BFC.  Rory replied that he was not aware of any issues of access.  There had been some issues around antisocial behaviour, but these issues seemed to have been resolved since the fence line had been repaired. 


Colin also asked about the part of the site used for Lapland UK and whether it was still acceptable for members of the public to use the walking route around the south side of the houses.  Rory confirmed that they would always make sure there was some sort of route around.  One difficulty this year had been that South East Water was still repairing a large leak and this had limited some access. 


Colin asked whether all the “walkers welcome” signs were still displayed around the entrances.  Rory replied that they were all still there except one which was removed by the timber yard on the Swinley Park site due to a safety concern. 


Graham Pockett highlighted that Crowthorne Forest had been taken over from the Forestry Commission and it was unusual in having Public Rights of Way (PRoW) whereas elsewhere the forest paths had permissive access.  Richard Mosses asked whether the 3 Castles Path could be made a PRoW.  Graham replied that it was not possible to create a new PRoW on The Crown Estate land as there was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 235.


RoWIP2 Mid-Term Review


Rose Wicks updated the forum on the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP2) mid-term review.  RoWIP2 was created as a 10-year plan to improve access to RoW and recreation routes.  Rose thanked members for their feedback, and comments had been incorporated into the review.  For example, it had been made clearer that PRoWs and access were already good in the borough, and that the work was to improve this even further and make routes more accessible to even more people.  Also, information had been added about landowner responsibilities.  This was limited in RoWIP2 and was an important consideration alongside users’ responsibilities.  The mid-term review document was due to be finalised in 2022 following submission to the Executive Member for decision.  Good progress had been made on the action plan, with over 50% of actions already fulfilled or on target for completion.


Furniture had been improved in at least 35 instances and there had been at least 29 surface improvements.  Rose highlighted that many of the improvements had been made possible by partnership-working, the Rights of way team working with the Bracknell Conservation Volunteers, the South East Berkshire Ramblers, and volunteer path inspectors.  Colin Bird expressed how well this had been supported by BFC which had organised path inspections as most local authority areas relied on voluntary organisations to organise path inspections.


Definitive Map Consolidation


Graham Pockett explained that there was a big strategic project to review the rights of way maps and the Definitive Statement to check they were still accurate.  They were last updated in 2013 and the revised documents would be published next year.  The Definitive Map would provide a legal basis for all PRoW.  Graham encouraged the forum to look at the online maps and note any changes required to the line of the RoW. 


Graham had been checking the old Berkshire County modification orders as some of them included widths, whereas the widths were not recorded on the Definitive Statement.  Graham was looking to add widths into the new Definitive Statement.  The forum expressed that this would be useful, especially when new hedges and fences were added which make the paths narrower. 


Rose Wicks offered to send the forum links to the online map and Definitive Statement.  (Action: Rose Wicks)


PROW and Local Developments


BR26 Hedge Lane

Graham Pockett advised that Hedge Lane was a bridleway which ran through two linked planning application sites: 22/00578/REM for 175 properties and 22/00314/REM for 46 dwellings.  The intention was to retain the bridleway in its current alignment.  The plans included two new road crossings across the whole site, but more work was needed on the design of the crossings to segregate horses from pedestrians and cyclists; BFC was pushing for that via the consultation process. 


Regarding the part of Hedge Lane covered by the smaller development application, some new hedging had been proposed and the ditch would be enlarged to improve drainage.  However, this would result in some loss of vegetation.


The north crossing would potentially link with further developments so there was a need to keep potential future road links open. 


Graham shared that there was an intention to create a permissive route between the playing fields and the proposed community hub as a traffic-free route.  Colin Bird added that the final route would go from the Jocks Lane junction area of Berkeley Homes to Westmorland Park. 


Buckler’s Forest Masterplan

Graham Pockett explained about the planned route 300m west of the Golden Retriever pub connecting Buckler’s Forest with the new Great Hollands SANG.  This would be a promoted pedestrian entrance into the site.  There would need to be a new crossing near the junction to assist crossing the road safely.  Subject to planning, there may be a new SANG at Beaufort Park which would link to Buckler’s Forest and the Great Hollands SANG. 


Colin Bird shared that Natural England had concerns about having an entrance there as it would be giving a route from south Bracknell to the SPA; however, Graham thought that was referring to the route behind the Golden Retriever where people had been breaking through the fence to get from the SANG to the footpath. 


Jealott’s Hill and the proposed new garden village

Colin Bird explained that the proposal was still going through assessment by examiners.  The proposal would create quite a lot of new green spaces including a new public bridleway which Colin felt would be an excellent addition.  Colin reminded the forum that, if this proposal was included in the local plan, the forum would need to engage with developers about access. 


Claimed Rights of Way


Track from Forest Road to Warfield Park

Graham Pockett updated that at least 42 user evidence forms had been submitted to BFC, showing over 20 years of uninterrupted claimed use, individually and collectively.  The landowners disagreed and claimed that there had been signage in place; however, the signage had been noticed by very few people until recently when it was updated with an additional private road sign in 2020.  Even taking into account the signage that could be seen on historic Google Street View photographs, prior to 2014 there was no documented evidence of signage that the landowners claimed was in place throughout the period in question.


The user evidence and the evidence from the landowners had been objectively analysed by the RoW team.  A report had been prepared to go to the Director for a decision and the recommendation was to apply to dedicate this track as a bridleway.  If the decision was appealed by the landowners, it would need to go to the Inspectorate.


Hugh Fitzwilliams suggested that the RoW team could investigate what rights BFC acquired when it bought plots in Hayley Green woods.


Broadmoor Estate

Colin Bird explained that several deterrent notices had been erected on the Broadmoor Estate on part of the Three Castles Path.  The route was first published 30 years ago in 1992 and has been used by walkers since then.  The forum felt that there would be sufficient evidence of continuous use and therefore it should be possible to put together a reasonable case for this to become a PRoW.  Graham Pockett added that the section was on the edge of the Broadmoor Estate land so any application to make it a PRoW was unlikely to interfere with their future use.  The track was labelled as a footpath on old OS maps but for some reason was not included on the first Definitive Map for East Berkshire when it was reviewed in the early 1950s.  It was agreed that the first port of call would be to discuss the matter with the North West London Mental Health Trust.  (Action: Graham Pockett and Colin Bird).


Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces


New paths and car park improvements at Horseshoe Lake

Rob Solomon highlighted a new path which had been established around the back of Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre, providing a quiet route through the grazed meadow, and improving access from the junction of Lower Church Road.  The compacted gravel surface would allow for year-round access.  Pedestrian friendly wide kissing gates (with access keys) and stock-proof bridle gates had been installed at each entrance. 


Colin Bird added that it was part of the wish list to add a PRoW so that the access from Lower Church Road would appear on OS maps.  It was felt that this would increase safety so that members of the public did not feel that they had to walk along narrow roads to the car park entrance.  Now that the improvement works were completed, it was felt that it was the right time to progress this.  Graham Pockett explained that he did not feel it would be difficult to progress; however, he did not know the original reasons why it was set up as a permissive path as opposed to a PRoW and would need to check that.  Graham added that there was a planning application out for a decision, for car park improvements at the Horseshoe Lake activity centre. 


Moss End Farm SANG update

Graham Pockett explained that the 3 years’ planning approval was due to expire on 14 November 2022.  Agents and planners had been working on discharging key conditions so that work could commence to avoid the need for a new application. 


Hugh Fitzwilliams expressed that there ought to be connections to the Frost Folly sites.  Graham agreed to follow up on opening up the links.  (Action: Graham Pockett)




Membership and recruitment

The forum felt that it would benefit from disabled representation.  The forum expressed its thanks to Rory Kerr from The Crown Estate for attending the meeting. 


The forum discussed ways to promote LCAF and expressed an interest in holding more group activities such as site visits.  Rose Wicks added that this could be helpful in adding to the promotional material such as including photos of site visits in the Parks and Countryside newsletter.  It was suggested that Buckler’s Forest may be an interesting site visit.  Rob Solomon agreed to share dates when the rangers would be working at weekends.  (Action: Rob Solomon)


The forum discussed that a disadvantage of weekend visits to popular sites such as Buckler’s Forest was difficulty in parking.  An earlier start may alleviate this, or a request could be made to park in the contractor’s car park. 


Annual report

Rose Wicks advised that she had incorporated the suggested changes and the Chairman’s foreword.  Rose requested members to send feedback for the 2022 copy by the end of the year.  (Action: forum members)


Hugh Fitzwilliams suggested including a list and map of SANGs, particularly drawing attention to new SANGs and when they were likely to open.  (Action: Rose Wicks to include)


Any Other Business


Hugh Fitzwilliams requested a meeting about Hayley Green track with Colin Bird and Graham Pockett.  (Action: Colin Bird, Graham Pockett and Hugh Fitzwilliams)


Geoff Paxton and Colin Bird offered to join Graham Pockett on a site visit to the polo field.  Graham to set this up.

(Action: Graham Pockett)


Public Question Time

(Maximum 10 Minutes)


There were no comments or questions.


Date of Next Meeting


The date of the next meeting would be Tuesday 31 January 2023 at 7pm.