Agenda and minutes

Local Countryside Access Forum - Tuesday, 28 September 2010 7.00 pm

Venue: Function Room, Fifth Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell. View directions

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

No. Item




The Chairman welcomed all members to the Forum. In particular, Rose Wicks, who had replaced Sally Coulson as the new Parks and Countryside Project Officer.


Election of Chairman


Diana Pidgeon advised Forum Members that she would be stepping down as Chairman of the Forum. Diana had been involved with parks and countryside work since 1984 and had been Chairman of the Local Countryside Access Forum in Bracknell Forest for seven years. Diana thanked everyone who had contributed over the years.




  1. Michael Abbott be elected as Chairman of the Forum
  2. Mike Gates be elected as Vice-Chairman of the Forum


Minutes of Last Meeting and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 113 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2010 were agreed as a correct record subject to the following amendments:


Mike Gates, Vice-Chairman, was acting as Chairman of the meeting in the Chairman’s absence.


Minute 21, Higher Level Stewardship and Signage


The final paragraph should read ‘The area of Shepherd Meadows in Hampshire was owned by Bracknell Forest Council’ and the reference to the meadows in Wokingham would be removed.


Matters Arising


A meeting of the Mid and West Berkshire Local Access Forum (LAF) would be held on 29 September 2010. Any Forum Members wishing to volunteer to attend the next Mid and West Berkshire LAF meeting on 19 January 2011 in Reading as an observer should contact Rose Wicks on or 01344 354118, who would then send an e-mail round with further information regarding the meeting.

(Action: Rose Wicks/ All)


A date for the next Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead LAF meeting and the next Hampshire Countryside Access Forum would be checked and further information regarding the possibility of Bracknell Forest LCAF members attending as observers would be circulated to Forum Members.

(Action: Rose Wicks)


An update on the Local Transport Plan 3 would be circulated to Forum Members with the minutes.

(Action: Rose Wicks)


There was no update at present regarding the rejuvenation of the signage at Shepherd Meadows. The first payment had been made and there had been three stages of revisions with regard to the development of interpretation signage.


Thames Basin Heath and SANGs


The Thames Basin Heath was a particularly significant area in Bracknell Forest and the surrounding local authorities. SANGs were suitable alternative natural green spaces. Strategic access management measures would be co-ordinated across eleven planning local authorities with regard to SPAs (Special Protection Areas) in relation to the impact of recreation use in areas where there was an increase in the population due to housing developments.


Housing targets in the South East Plan were no longer applicable as the plan had ceased. The target of the Local Development Framework included lower figures of housing allocation than those in the South East Plan. Contributions would be reviewed based on the revised housing targets. Consequently, there was a further time delay in housing development. More focus would be given to support existing time management measures.


Improvements had been made within Bracknell Forest due to six SANGs and developer contributions would aid in funding this. The Cut Countryside Corridor was a group of green spaces which included Shepherd Meadows, Garth Meadows, Englemere Pond, Longhill Park, Horseshoe Lake, and Ambarrow Court and Hill. Agreement had been secured from the National Trust for Bracknell Forest Council to manage the two adjoining sites of Ambarrow Court and Ambarrow Hill.


Housing growth had slowed due to the recession. £80,000 had been spent on improving sites in Bracknell Forest and £10,000 was being used for projects in progress. £200,000 would be used for long term management. The SPA was protected under National and International Law. SANGs were a mitigation measure to protect this important area.




Playbuilder projects in Year 1 of the government initiative to improve play areas had been completed involving twelve sites in Bracknell Forest. Sandhurst Memorial Park was near to completion and Sandhurst Town Council had contributed some funding for this site. A ribbon cutting ceremony had been held at Ascot Recreation Ground in June.


The first of the Year 2 sites, Locks Ride, now had a water spray park, and other conventional play equipment would also be installed later in the year. In July 2010, non-contractually committed schemes began to be cut. Contracts were individually considered in case of a penalty for withdrawing from contracts. The second year of the Playbuilder Scheme would involve a reduced package of improvements to sites due to funding being cut.


National and Regional LCAF Work


LAF views had been sought from Duncan Graham, Chairman of the England Access Forum, and Rob Cooke, Director of Environment Advice and Analysis, on Natural England and the England Access Forum’s future working arrangements. Feedback had been requested by 30 September 2010.


Forum members queried whether Natural England should have a statutory remit to consult with Government and non-governmental bodies. Natural England’s government funding originated from DEFRA which was currently in the process of revising its status after the new coalition government was elected. LAF’s would likely not be directly affected by this.


Feedback would be gathered at a national and regional level. Forum members queried whether government funding was essential to the running of the England Access Forum (EAF).


Forum members decided that the two points they would like to feedback on were logical structure from local through regional to national representation and secure funding. Draft wording for the feedback would be circulated to Forum Members for agreement and then forwarded to Natural England by 30 September 2010.

(Action: Graham Pockett)


Mid Term Review of Improvement Plan (Definitive Map Review)


A review would be undertaken of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) 2006, now midway through the plan, to review performance against actions and targets. There would be further information on this at the next meeting of the Bracknell Forest LCAF.


Work on the new definitive map was in progress. The original plan had been produced by BABTIE but for the first time the new definitive map would be produced internally by the Parks and Countryside and GIS mapping teams. The aim was to complete work on the map by the end of the year. Work would depend on the highway authority approach. Bracknell Forest was a small unitary authority with a small management network.


A ROWIP issues and actions paper would be circulated to Forum Members in advance of the next meeting for members to comment on.

(Action: Richard Walton/ Graham Pockett)


Green Flag


Three Parks and Countryside sites in Bracknell Forest had been awarded the Green Flag again in 2010: Lily Hill Park, a joint entry from Shepherd Meadows and Sandhurst Memorial Park (Bracknell Forest Council in partnership with Sandhurst Town Council), and Pope’s Meadow. Carnation Hall, owned and managed by Winkfield Parish Council was also awarded a Green Flag.


To be eligible for Green Flag Awards, local authorities needed to make improvements and respond to detailed feedback from Keep Britain Tidy. Senior Parks Officers decided which areas received Green Flag Awards but they could not judge their own area.


The criteria for a Green Flag included maintaining standards, signage, safety, how welcoming an area was, community engagement, and environmental sustainability amongst others. There was a need to demonstrate that the standard could be delivered.


Lily Hill Park and South Hill Park had both received funding for improvements and South Hill Park would be entered into the Green Flag process in 2012.


LCAF Leaflet Review


Parks and Countryside leaflets were being reviewed. There would be leaflets on Pope’s Meadow, Sandhurst Memorial Park and Shepherd Meadows, and Lily Hill Park. The Lily Hill Park leaflet was in the process of being re-drafted. The colour theme of the leaflets would be influenced by the place or activity they were advertising and would be design led to provide clarity. Forum members suggested making the leaflets simpler and easier to read with the use of bold colour.


Site Visits

Please bring ideas for the LCAF winter site visit.


The new Chief Forrester at the Crown Estate, John Deakin, would be consulted on a possible date in October for a site visit to the Cranbourne Chase area of the Crown Estate. Suggested dates included Saturday 9 or 16 October at 11am.

(Action: Rose Wicks)


A winter circular walk would be undertaken at Horseshoe Lake on Saturday 19 February 2011 at 11am to see migrating birds and links to the Blackwater Valley Corridor.


Reports from Officers


Rose Wicks reported that restoration works had been completed at Queen Anne Gulley to restore the footpath banks using timber locally sourced from the Crown Estate. Forum Members were shown before and after photographs of the gulley. Funding had been secured from Natural England to restore the historic site and four new interpretation panels had been installed.


Richard Walton reported that an interpretation panel which had been missing from Caesar’s Camp for between two and three months had been returned by a member of the public who had found it in the Crown Estate. The panel was still in good condition and had been re-installed at the site.


The remedial works at Priory Field had been completed. The site was up and running and had already had two to three weeks of football there. The grass was looking good and initial feedback of the site was good.


Graham Pockett reported that there was a new hoggin path to improve links between Lily Hill Park and Longhill Park. Fingerposts would be erected with a bigger font size to make them easier to read from a greater distance. The posts would be made of European oak and the letters would be engraved into them.


A consultation process would be undertaken on the Footpath 15 diversion which would run across open grassland. There were green spaces and wildlife corridors surrounding the site. The big open space could be a future SANG. The Footpath could be linked up with Footpath 18 but there were concerns over the longer route. The preferable route would be more scenic rather than being embedded in road. The consultation would be circulated later in the week and would be published in the newspaper.


There would be a possible new footpath dedication in Sunninghill in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, involving a short length of footpath opposite Ascot Gate into the Great Park. The length of footpath would be back from the road to improve the pedestrian link for new occupiers in the area. A range of different options were being explored for the dedication.


Reports from Members round the table


  • Michael Abbott queried whether any funds from the sale of council properties in the area could be used towards access schemes. It was reported that this money had already been used for affordable housing in the borough, amongst other schemes.
  • Innes McEwen reported that he had been offered HLS funding for educational access enhancement to the farm. Mr McEwen received over thirty school visits to the farm per year at present and was working with the charity LEAF. It was hoped to make the Jealotts Hill Bird Race an annual event. Keen bird watchers would spend time at the farm and report what they had seen, which was useful information for the farm. The neighbouring farm would possibly be opened one day a year with a focus on the livestock.
  • Steve Searle reported that there was an open day in July at the Crown Estate. Measurements were being taken at present in order to make improvements to disabled access. Felling and thinning had been undertaken in the area going up to the Fernhill roundabout on the A332; with felling on the east side of the road and thinning on the west side of the road.
  • Peter Radband reported that cows had been too close to the gate over the bridge and dog walkers had been unable to get through the gate. There was a need for interpretation aimed at informing walkers (particularly dog walkers) about how to behave at sites where there were cattle grazing. It was reported that a first draft of an information sheet had been produced, which could be adopted at other sites.


Public Question Time

(Maximum 10 Minutes)


Mrs D M Smith, an observer from Mid and West Berkshire LAF, commented on the South East Region Forum where people did not know about the LAF. An event was held in West Berkshire where Parish and Town Councillors were invited. The event had proved to be very successful.


John Warren, an observer at the meeting, reported that the designation of the dry valleys site south of The Lookout was on hold. Mountain bikes were welcome in this area as people could then see the geology of the area.


Mr Warren commented that Be Heard had requested to be consulted on Shepherd Meadows’ new interpretation panel. Bracknell Forest Council’s Parks and Countryside service had incorporated feedback from David Putt of Be Heard regarding the accessibility of the new interpretation. Be Heard would welcome the opportunity to provide their consultation feedback on drafts of new interpretation signs. The dark background of the Caesar’s Camp sign with the Dartford Warbler on made it difficult to see the bird. Mr Warren suggested that the colour scheme for any leaflets could take into account any colour blind people reading them.


Mr Warren also suggested that Be Heard be involved in public rights of way issues. Be Heard would be included in the e-mail circulation regarding the ROWIP issues and actions.

(Action: Rose Wicks)


Mr Warren commented that the military training area near to Swinley Forest would be fenced by February 2011 as Surrey Wildlife Trust would introduce banded galloway camps. Access points used by the public would be gated. There was another area in the process of becoming a designated site in Finchampstead in Wokingham. A route for a site visit would be considered.

(Action: Rose Wicks/ Hugh Fitzwilliams)


Date of Next Meeting

Tuesday 29 March 2011, 7pm, Function Room, 5th Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell.


Tuesday 29 March 2011, 7pm, Function Room, 5th Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell.