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More Footpath Diversions planned for South Hill Bleadon

Posted on 11th May, 2013

UPDATE (16/9/13) More information here and even newer news here (22nd January 2014)


Pre-Order Plan for South Hill PROW Diversions

I have received information regarding further proposed changes to the footpaths on South Hill and those crossing through South Hill Farm itself. Comments are invited by North Somerset Council by May 27th 2013Please see the more detailed attachments/linked below.

 

South Hill (AX 6/12 & AX 6/15)

As dog walkers among you will know, it is now impossible to walk the original circular perimeter due to the new stock fencing (it now requires a more dangerous & longer walk from Wonderstone stile to The Veale via Shiplate Road) so these further restrictions may be equally unpopular. I know of several people that enjoy blackberry and sloe picking or a summer picnic viewing flora & fauna on the large stones & hollows on the current footpath route which may not be possible in the future.

 

South Hill Farm & access to Shiplate/River Axe (AX 6/12 & AX 6/14)

While diverting the path from going through the farm may be preferable to the farmer it is a pity that those walkers wanting to see a working Somerset farm during their walk will now be excluded as well as being diverted around a longer less direct route.

 

South Hill is designated by North Somerset a SNCI (Site of Nature & Conservation Interest) so these new proposed restrictions seem a great shame to all walkers and ramblers either resident or tourist.

South Hill Footpaths & PROW

 

In this paragraph, I have linked an image from North Somerset mapping system (right) showing the existing pathways walked on South Hill relative to the official PROW ones. I have also attached North Somerset consultation documents here a copy of the original consultation letter (Microsoft Word) or (PDF copy of the same NS letter) and pre-order plan/map showing planned diversions.

 

Valid acceptable objections are made against legal tests see Highways Act 1980 section 119 shown at the following link here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/119 Item 6 may be the most appropriate reason to consider any objection.

 

Comments are required back to North Somerset by May 27th 2013 so please forward and/or print this information ASAP to any others who may be interested in commenting on these proposals. Your comments should be made directly to North Somerset (Elaine.Bowman@n-somerset.gov.uk Natural Environment, Development and Environment, North Somerset Council, Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston super Mare, BS23 1UJ. Telephone: 01934 427406 If emailing, please remember to include your full name and postal address to be included as a valid comment.

 

Comments can also be made to The Open Spaces Society as a main consultee (johnives@blueyonder.co.uk). I will also collate and post information for people to review if comments are sent to BOB, or as usual you can post directly and anonymously on this blog post, in time for all to consider before submitting their thoughts to the relevant bodies.

 

I don't know whether our Parish Council will be making any formal comment as this is not a specific agenda item for their Monday 13th May meeting (although these documents have been received by them). This is something our existing and new councillors should consider as if the new footpaths are ultimately contained within 2m perimeter bounded paths, our free roaming open space that we have been used to will disappear, also the cost of maintaining the footpaths may fall on the parish (as opposed to the grazing animals).

 

PLEASE REMEMBER DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS TO NORTH SOMERSET IS MAY 27th 2013

 

 

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Comments (3)

Dear North Somerset Council PROW

May I just make two comments about the reorganisation of footpaths on South Hill, Bleadon - a very well-used amenity by local villagers, an area with a rich limestone flora and an extremely attractive piece of open space that must be protected.

First, I would be strongly opposed to any public footpaths being enclosed in fenced corridors as this would not only be unpleasant for walkers it would be detrimental to the visual appearance of the hill.

Second, I am concerned that what was an unofficial path, or it may even have been a permissive path, from The Veale to Wonderstone is no longer accessible. I spent 25 years waliking the hill with my dogs from about 1975 to 2000 and although this path was not part of my regular route I expect I will have walked it on occasions. It is a pity that this section is now closed to walkers. I wonder if you could please possibly negotiate a permissive path with the new landowner, to include suitable access, and with a sign saying it is a permissive path only. This would enable this part of the hill to be used by casual and serious walkers and would not be harmful to the grazing regime that the farmer has put in place. I am sure there are many other users of the hill who would wish the path to be reopened.

I look forward to hearing from you about such a negotiation.
The most feedback is about the new fencing and the public's inability to complete a circular walk around the hill i.e. the fencing on the north side from the quarry to Wonderstone, and through the centre of the hill, which now cuts off access to one of the Hellenge Hill routes and Wonderstone. Although the north route is not an official one it has been enjoyed by local people and visitors alike for many decades, and locals in particular would like this to continue. Is there anything that can be done to open up this walk again as the current situation has substantially reduced the public's (and particularly the elderly dog walkers) ability to enjoy South Hill, lowering the character, quality and diversity of the walk and views experienced including those over the Somerset Levels and toward Glastonbury Tor. While we understand the farmer's want to ensure that his stock are safe and secure, such fencing has been unnecessary in the past, and certainly not present since we have been using this area.

A route through a working farm is unique and a pity to lose. We are concerned that the proposed new route avoiding the farm should not unreasonably lengthen the path and access through to the river Axe or Shiplate. All paths should be maintained to protect users from any potential dangers or hazards e.g. boggy, slippery or overgrown paths to ensure public safety and enable them to use them easily. People are already more concerned that due to the new fencing potential routes of escape from the cows are more limited.

We note that the proposed new routes have a minimum width of 2m for the footpaths. We would like to see that these always remain open and not bounded so as to maintain the surrounding natural beauty of the location within the SNCI and adjoining AONB i.e. not corridors of fencing with unsightly metal kissing gates which spoils the look and feel of the area.

Although the new installed metal kissing gates interrupt the walk they should be safe and secure in the ground, they currently appear to be a temporary solution or work in progress.

The proposed new route, as shown on the North Somerset plan, appears to divert paths away from the small quarry area in the centre of South Hill reducing the public's ability to enjoy this feature of interest.

The current footpaths, official and unofficial, are currently maintained by grazing animals so we are keen to ensure that any new proposals should not result in any direct or indirect maintenance costs to the local taxpayer.

We have walked South and Hellenge Hills for many years with our child and dog. We feel that the additional fencing and associated kissing gates will make it even more difficult to access and use the hill with pushchairs or other wheeled transport.

In summary, when taken in combination with the restrictions of the new fencing, we do not see how these diversions will benefit the public, particularly if the historic circular walk remains blocked, so we must question the point of implementing them.
We would like to express our concern over the new fencing on South Hill, Bleadon. While we understand the need to make stock secure, there has been stock on this hill for many years, without this extensive fencing being necessary.

The natural beauty of the hill, which is enjoyed by many visitors to the area as well as locals, has been spoiled. This hill is on the edge of the Mendip Hills AONB, attracts many walkers, and with views over the Levels to Glastonbury; it is a Site of Nature and Conservation Interest.

Although there are permitted footpaths marked on the map, these differ from the established footpaths which we have been walking for over 30 years. We feel that the current fencing has seriously spoilt our ability to walk across and around the hill whilst enjoying the views and space around it.

In addition the top/north side walk from the quarry to Wonderstone has now been blocked by current fencing preventing access to Wonderstone or to complete a circular walk, or onto the Hellenge Hill route. Is there anything that can be done to open up this walk again? Are the other suggested diversions needed as the walks they affect are essentially the same?