The Parish Council is aware of various needs for improvement to right-of-way (RoW) routes through the parish, and their accessibility and condition. The main focus of these developments is currently in the central area of the parish, around (and largely financed by) the Abingworth Meadows development. Thanks for continuing to bear with the occasional glitch while all this goes forward – it will be good when it’s done!
Abingworth Rights of Way improvements
The RoW routes due to be delivered in this area, according to the consents relating to phase 2 of the scheme, are set out in the map below.
The surface of Strawberry Lane is due to be improved (at least the muddiest parts). 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. This will allow safer crossing of the B2139 and benefit both residents in the Linfield Copse area and through-travellers along the existing bridleway to West Chiltington.
The eastern section of this new bridleway (Strawberry Lane to the B2139) has existed on the ground for some time, with permissive access for walkers. Unfortunately (as of November 2019) it has not been dedicated as a proper WSCC bridleway and there is a wooden chicane arrangement by the Abingworth sales office preventing equestrian use. This is because legal agreements between the developer, HDC and WSCC linked together the dedication of the existing eastern section with the further delivery of the new section due on the west side of the B2139. The delivery of the new western section is also due by now, and a detailed route design exists, but construction has been delayed by complications around land ownership and (as usual) finance. Which is doubly frustrating as the delayed western section is also holding up dedication of the eastern section. The PC is doing all we can to get the developer, other landowners, HDC and WSCC to resolve the legal and financial issues and get the whole length of this route completed and dedicated as a WSCC bridleway, as soon as possible.
In relation to the recently-created path north of the Abingworth cricket pitch (not coloured above), the status of this path remains permissive only (as at November 2019) 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. Some legal glitches with this have recently moved forward, and in due course 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.
Link to West Chiltington
Update – October 2019: further to the position outlined below, we have continued to pursue options to finish the ~120m unimproved section, and the good news is that West Chiltington PC have recently confirmed their willingness to equally share the cost of this. We have also found scope within the Thakeham PC current year budget to cover the balance. So, quotes are currently awaited with a view to commissioning this work to be done by Easter 2020. (It is more expensive and disruptive to try to do this kind of work in mid-winter.) So, thanks for continuing to bear with the current situation this winter, but from 2020 this path should finally be fully accessible.
August/September 2019: recent resurfacing work (jointly funded by the Parish Council and WSCC Rights of Way Team) has brought the surface of the eastern end of bridleway 3676 up to a good standard. We are very conscious that upgrade is still needed for the section of the bridleway that runs beside the wood between the recent resurfaced eastern end, and the older hardcore surface at the west end. We don’t yet have a timeline for this. Although Thakeham PC agrees it is a high priority, WSCC PRoW team don’t view the condition of this section as particularly bad (relative to most other bridleways), and can’t offer further financial contribution. Also, this section is outside the Thakeham PC boundary, with ends at the east side of the woods, so we are exploring possible cooperation and joint funding with West Chiltington PC. We will update residents on progress with this as soon as possible.
Safe walking/cycling route from central Thakeham to Rock Road Schools
The 2017 move of Thakeham Primary School to the Rock Road site, combined with the fact that the B2139 is extremely dangerous for cyclists, underlined the urgency of creating a new route for children living in central Thakeham to be able to get to and from the Rock Road site on foot, or by cycling, if they and their parents so choose. Within the constraints of limited funding the best solution that the PC and WSCC Rights of Way team could identify is set out in the map below. By autumn 2019 most works have been completed to upgrade the surface of Strawberry Lane and the element still to be put in place is the new footway on the east side of the B2139, which currently looks like being delivered in early 2020. Meantime, WSCC Highways have implemented signage works to extend the 40mph speed limit on the B2139 to include the section from the Merrywood Lane junction northwards over Jackets Hill, to meet the 30mph zone starting by Abingworth Hall. This was originally going to involve an additional vehicle-activated speed limit sign, but WSCC have now decided against this.