Recommendation: That the orders be made
Proposal: Diversion of parts of Wokingham Footpath 24 / Wokingham Without Footpath 9 and Wokingham Without Footpath 5, and the stopping up of part of Wokingham Footpath 25, Wokingham Footpath 10 and Wokingham Without Footpath 5 in support of the planning application for the construction of the South Wokingham Distributor Road (SWDR) and the Eastern Gateway between Finchampstead Road and Waterloo Road.
Applicant: Mrs Jean Mulovi, Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this item, set out in agenda pages 5 to 20.
The Committee were advised that there were no Members’ Updates.
Maria Gee, Ward Member, spoke in objection to this item. Maria was of the opinion that there were many good qualities about the proposed new footpath routes in the new proposed developments, including improved surfaces and improved access for disabled residents. Maria raised concerns that the footpaths were not suitable for shared use, and felt it was unclear what would be done to deter cyclists from using the existing footpaths without also deterring wheelchair users. Maria queried whether the Committee was convinced that the new designs would appropriately direct each type of path user. Prior to making changes to the existing network, Maria asked that the Committee look at the gaps between the boards of the boardwalk to see whether they had been considered in relation to the most commonly used wheels for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Maria sought confirmation that the boardwalk surface would not become slippery in winter. Maria was of the opinion that the design of the SWDR could potentially places obstacles in the way of increased pedestrian use due to a lack of controlled crossing points. Maria asked the Committee to consider whether the new designs were the best that they could be prior to removing or diverting the existing pathway network, and asked the Committee to confirm whether these plans had met Wokingham Borough Council’s duties under the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Simon Weeks queried whether any of the signage related to the usage of the footpaths would be changing. Andrew Fletcher, case officer, confirmed that officers were not looking to prevent use of the paths by cyclists, and cyclists would be entitled to use the paths under permitted use.
Simon Weeks queried whether the boardwalk would meet current standards related to pushchairs and cyclists. Andrew Fletcher confirmed that the boardwalk would meet the current standards, and officers were happy with the designs.
Angus Ross stated that much work had been done to ensure the continuity of the public rights of way system in the area, whilst taking into account the needs of future housing developments and major roads. Angus added that many of the public footpaths were currently well used, and the modifications suggested would maintain safety and usability. Angus stated that footpath 5 was currently seldom used due to the relatively unsafe entry and exit, however the proposals would improve upon this and should make it a much more useful walking route.
Stephen Conway stated that ... view the full minutes text for item 75