Washford Recreation Ground

Proposal to allow cycling in Washford Recreation Ground

Introduction

Old Cleeve Parish Council owns Washford Recreation Ground. We regularly inspect the site and play equipment. We are responsible for the management and maintenance of this site, using local contractors. The school cuts the grass on the playing field within the fenced off area in return for using that area for school activities. Public footpath 18/8 runs through the whole length of the site.

What is now proposed?

The Parish Council proposes to grant permission to allow cyclists to cycle through Washford Recreation Ground. Councillors support the increased use of cycling as a way to improve physical and mental health. This permission, if granted, will relate to the length within Washford Recreation Ground only.

Why is this proposed?

Somerset Council has asked the Parish Council for permission to allow this as part of their plans to create an off-road cycle route between Washford and Watchet.

The access track & Mineral Line

We do not own the access track – from Huish Lane to the main (southern) entrance gate. Nor do we own the Mineral Line footpath from the Recreation Ground (northern) entrance gate towards Watchet.

What about the access track and Mineral Line?

Somerset Council will negotiate and seek permission from the other landowners to allow cycling on their land. This does not form part of our current proposal.

What are the current details?

The existing public footpath is surfaced with tarmac through the whole length of the Recreation Ground. This is around 1metre wide. Cyclists are currently not permitted to cycle on the public footpath, but we know from site visits, that cyclists do use the footpath. It is very unlikely that enforcement action will ever be taken against those cyclists.

What are the proposed details?

Councillors have considered the request from Somerset Council and have agreed in principle to allow cyclists to cycle through the Recreation but only if the current path is widened from 1 metre to 2 metres. This is the minimum width recommended for the width of a path that is used by cyclists. Somerset Council have agreed to this and are now able to fund this widening.

Will it be safe for pedestrians and cyclists?

We know that cyclists already use the narrow footpath, generally without incident. We are confident that cyclists, pedestrians incl. with buggies and mobility scooters etc, will be able to safely co-exist on a widened path.

Will the number of cyclists increase?

It is possible numbers will increase if the entire route is agreed for use by cyclists. Somerset Council will be installing a cycle counter at the Watchet end to monitor numbers.

Will there be any other changes?

It is possible that the pedestrian ‘kissing’ gate at the Washford end will be removed to help cyclists access the route. The vehicle gate will remain in place and closed. At the Watchet end, the gate needs to remain in place as a ‘cattle proof’ gate is required at that end. It is possible some signage will also be required. This is to be agreed.

Is anything else happening?

Last year we installed cycle parking stands at the Washford end – these will remain. We are also looking at providing more seating, including with tables, throughout the Recreation Ground, but this is not part of this proposal.

What are the timescales?

Following this consultation, the Parish Council will consider comments received and decide whether to proceed at its meeting in June 2024. If agreed, we will sign a permissive agreement with Somerset Council who will then do the widening works. This should be completed later in 2024.

How can I let you know my views?

The Parish Council is now seeking comments, both for and against this proposal. Please send any comments to: washfordrec@oldcleeveparishcouncil.gov.uk by 24 May 2024.