Here is a link sharing the agenda of the Waverley Committee on Friday. All are welcome to attend.
I have sent apologies as I am attending a family funeral on Friday.
I would be very grateful if this statement could be read out on Friday at the LAC- item 8.
The proposed Cycle Tracks Order on a section of Footpath 19 is an initiative that has support from Haslemere Town Council, Haslemere Vision, Haslemere Community Rail Partnership (in partnership with the Surrey Hills and Cycling UK) and Transition Haslemere. It is identified as one of the “opportunities” in the submission draft Neighbourhood Plan.
There is a growing community desire to improve the conditions for cycling in Haslemere and this is borne out in some specific ways:
- Haslemere Vision, the town’s neighbourhood plan steering group (www.haslemerevision.org.uk), carried out an extensive public consultation in 2016 that identified very strong public support for better walking and cycling provision in the town. The public opinion was strongly in favour of improvements being introduced to encourage more “active travel” to access Haslemere train station.
- Haslemere Community Rail Partnership commissioned a Station Travel Plan in 2016 that also identified a public desire for safer routes to and from the station in order to reduce the dependency on the private car.
- Transition Haslemere partnered with a local cycling group in the summer of this year to organise several mass bike rides, involving a wide cross-section of cyclists, including families with younger children; associated press releases called for improvements to Haslemere’s cycling infrastructure.
- Haslemere Town Council has recently declared a Climate Change Emergency and one of its stated aims is to promote more sustainable transport modes.
Cycling in Haslemere is extremely challenging for all but the experienced, confident cyclist. The main routes through the town are in many places narrow, with no space to accommodate a separate cycle lane. Key pinch points include: Fosters Bridge near the station; the Wey Hill shopping area; and the high pavement section of Lower Street. These are all particularly hazardous for cyclists. Very significant funding would be required to address these challenges – funds that are currently not available to members of this committee.
A creative approach is therefore needed if we are to improve cycling in Haslemere within the existing physical and financial constraints, to encourage wider and safer participation. An opportunity does exist in the form of the network of paths – both formal and informal – that criss-cross the town. The strategic vision of the groups supporting the proposal today is to use these paths, linking up with some quieter roads where gaps exist, to create a safer, integrated network of cycle and walking paths. This network would provide links between and among residential zones and key community assets, including our schools, health centre, sports centre, library and shopping areas. The plan is to work with the Surrey Highways and Countryside teams to direct funds, as they become available, to upgrade sections of path and the linkages to create this network.
The proposal for consideration today and set out in the committee papers, is to upgrade a section of Footpath 19 via a Cycle Tracks Order. This marks the first piece, so to speak, in this ‘jigsaw’ of a town-wide cycle and pedestrian network. The route is already used by cyclists informally as it provides a back-route link from Lower Street near the station, through to both Lion Lane Green and Shottermill Infant and Primary school, and up to the National Trust Devil’s Punch Bowl where cyclists can connect to the extensive Cycle Surrey Hills cycle network, with 90km of off-road tracks.
A criticism of the proposal that has been received by Officers is that the Cycle Tracks Order creates a small isolated section of cycle route. As explained above, this is intended to mark the first section of a wider strategic network of interlinking paths, which will be improved and upgraded as and when funding amounts become available. The vision would then be to upgrade the next section of route from the end of the proposed length of path, to link it with both Shottermill Infant and Junior schools as the next piece in the ‘jigsaw’ once funding is secured. Both Heads are working hard to promote ‘Safer Routes to School’ and more active travel by pupils and parents so as to reduce parking and congestion as well as to improve air quality and safety issues around their schools.
The scheme’s cost (£7,000) represents good value for money as it improves the off-road path for current users of the path, be they pedestrians, disability scooter users or cyclists. The scheme will upgrade the path surface, widen the existing path and replace a rotten wooden barrier over the small stream which the path crosses.
The Surrey Highways and Countryside teams have assessed the scheme thoroughly and confirm that when upgraded the path will accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians, with signage to encourage mutual respect by all path users and “cyclists dismount” signs will be installed in front of the bridge over the stream. The path will remain on the definitive map retaining footpath status, and the proposal is not opposed by the local rambler group.
Looking ahead, Waverley have plans for a housing development on the current Youth Campus site adjacent to this proposed upgraded section of path, which would therefore be directly accessible to residents in the new homes.