The RoW routes due to be delivered in and around the Abingworth Meadows development are set out in the map below. The surface of Strawberry Lane is due to be improved (at least the muddiest parts – the detail of what WSCC have required can be seen here; items A +D remain to be completed as at August 2020). As the map shows, there will be other new permissive paths (shown in orange) and the surfaces of existing footpaths will be brought up to WSCC-set standards.
But the main new feature is that walkers, cyclists and equestrians are due to benefit from a major new east-west bridleway route through central Thakeham. The eastern section will link Strawberry Lane to the B2139 through the new development. This will be continued by a further western section that crosses the B2139 and then runs along the north bank of the stream (south of the Monaghans site) before rejoining High Bar Lane next to the existing playground. These works are being undertaken by Abingworth Developments, under planning consents from Horsham District Council and WSCC Rights of Way team (not under the direction of the Parish Council). After considerable delays relating to the need for legal agreements, as at July 2020 the situation is:
- The existing new bridleway route through the Abingworth development has finally been ‘dedicated’ as part of the WSCC rights of way network, and is therefore now open to equestrian and cycle traffic;
- In relation to the bridleway extension on the west side of the B2139, initial clearance of vegetation has been completed and further work is to complete the new section is expected to follow by autumn 2020, followed by dedication of this new route by WSCC.
The route of the western bridleway extension (dotted green line) and how it relates to the rest of the Abingworth rights-of-way scheme, is shown below.
The extended bridleway route will provide a new safer place for users to cross the B2139 (using the traffic calming build-out), and for walkers, cyclists and equestrians to travel separated from traffic for most of the length of High Bar Lane. It will also involve upgrading the surface of the footpath next to the playground, which will benefit walkers and allow cyclists and equestrians to travel northwards through the Monaghans site, and onwards via the bridleway network, avoiding the dangerous narrow section of the B2139 around the junction to The Street. The approved route is shown in more detail below.
Although the new pathway runs through the existing wooded area at its east end, efforts will be made to avoid unnecessary tree loss. Unfortunately a number of ash trees on/close to the route are suffering from dieback, and the worst affected near the path route need to be removed. The scheme does however involve replanting some semi-mature trees to protect the screening of neighbouring gardens. Works access to construct the bridleway will be off High Bar Lane, near the playground. The need to avoid mud on the roadway is appreciated. Some noise disturbance to neighbouring residents is also unfortunately inevitable, particularly during the initial tree clearance phase, but we understand that it will be completed as quickly as possible.
The works will proceed very soon, as weather and ground conditions permit. The contact route for any issues arising during the construction process is: firstname.lastname@example.org
The timeline for full opening of this route, including to equestrians (which involves removing the wooden chicane structure that currently restricts use of the path near the Village Hall), awaits completion and formal dedication of the whole route (Strawberry Lane to High Bar Lane playground) as a new bridleway.
In relation to the recently-created path north of the Abingworth cricket pitch (not coloured in the general scheme above), the status of this path remains permissive only (as at May2020) but the intention is that it will also be dedicated as a right of way, subject to WSCC approval of some other minor rights of way amendments in this area. The legalities for this are moving forward, and the way now seems clear for this new path to become a dedicated right of way. In the meantime, permissive use continues and the landowner has kindly agreed to mow this path periodically on a temporary basis. The PC will continue work to facilitate a good long-term arrangement to control vegetation.