Background

Lighthorne has a vibrant community with several active social groups. It also benefits from a well maintained sports field with cricket pitch, allotments, and tennis court, all complemented by The Pavilion Café. However, car parking at the sports field is limited and pedestrian access severely compromised by the need to walk along the C96 public highway, up a moderately steep hill on a blind bend, with little verge. Many village residents would like to visit the field, the allotments, the tennis court and the café on foot, but are discouraged from doing so by the risks involved. The village has long aspired to have safe pedestrian access to the sports field.

The Gaydon & Lighthorne Heath (GLH) development brings with it the transformation of the old Lighthorne Quarry into a Managed Ecological Reserve, as set out in Stratford District Council's supplementary planning document. This has raised the possibility of the Parish Council being allowed to route a safe path across land between the village and the sports field that was hitherto not available. Via Hawksmoor, who act for the GLH developers, agreement in principle has been obtained, but is awaiting formal agreement.

Officers from Warwickshire County Council have been consulted over the most appropriate designation for the new path. It may start as a Permissive Path with a view to later adoption by WCC. Stratford District Council's Planning Department has also been consulted, and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted to address aspects such as partial hedgerow removal for the installation of stock-proof gates.

Funding

The Parish Council has allocated from reserves a sum sufficient to complete the most basic option, but in the light of recent unexpected expenditure we have to be cautious. Ideally we will obtain external funding. Two applications for funding so far have not met with success, but new opportunities are being explored. Any funding organisation will require evidence of the benefit of our project, and to obtain this evidence we are delivering this survey within the village. If you don't get yours, or you lose it, please print this version, complete and return it.

Costings

Cost estimates have been obtained for various options.

Option 1 - Mobility kissing gates with path

This is our preferred option, providing the most complete and accessible solution, to include:

Materials £2,930, Labour £2,475, Plant £450, Total £5,855

Option 2 - Mobility kissing gates with partial path

This is as option 1 except the hardcore path will only extend for the 50m or so of ground up to the tennis court, where the ground is very soft.

Materials £1,730, Labour £1,125, Plant £550, Total £3,405

Option 3 - Mobility kissing gates

This is as option 2 except there will be no hardcore path.

Materials £1,130, Labour £675, Plant £450, Total £2,255

The Parish Council has been able to set aside this sum for option 3 for 2020. The other features can be undertaken as reserves and priorities allow, or if we are able to secure external funding.

Route

Below is an annotated aerial view from Google Maps with the proposed route for the safe path shown in pink. Below that are a series of images from Google Streetview showing the parts of the route that will remain as they are, the point at which the new path will begin, and the remainder of the existing route that is so hazardous for pedestrians.

This aerial view shows the proposed route of the safe path. The lower path in cyan will use the existing verge. At points A and B there will be gates installed to allow stock-proof passage through the hedges. From point A to C is about 150m and is well drained and relatively firm under foot. From point B to C is about 50m and is very soft under foot.
Starting with Old School Lane on the immediate right, the existing verge will be used for the initial part of the safe path.
The verge is a good width, but unlikely to be suitable for wheelchairs unless very dry and firm.
Approaching an existing entrance to what will be the Managed Ecological Reserve.
Traffic around this corner is a hazard, with vehicles frequently exceeding the 30mph limit. The existing gateway leads to an area with stock fencing which is quite low and currently very muddy.
Just past the existing gateway a new stock proof gateway is proposed in the vicinity of the 'A', taking pedestrians directly onto the higher firmer ground.
A little further on we reach the end of the 30mph limit, and the end of a verge that can be safely negotiated on foot. From this point on pedestrians are at significant risk from traffic.
The verge here narrows even more.
The verge here is non-existant.
No refuge from traffic here without diving into the edge.
The car parked on the right is just before the entrance to the sports field.
The car park for the sports field can be seen on the right.
The entrance to the sports field.