An important milestone has been reached in the plan for a recreational trail around Chew Valley Lake by the granting of planning permission for the north west section of the trail. When combined with permissions that are already in place, this new section means visitors will be able to enjoy four miles of continuous off-road path around the lake.
The new permission links the trail from Woodford Lodge across the dam to the Salt and Malt car park. Permission already exists for a path from Salt and Malt through the Denny Woods picnic area towards Twy Cross. From there the new permission completes a short link through Brook Copse which will simplify access into Bishop Sutton.
With the granting of the permission the project team are now set to finalise their application for funding to construct the connecting sections. As part of the funding proposal a new charity has been established to represent the different interests, communities and land owners in the future maintenance and management of the trail.
The original plan for the route was circular, but it has now been divided into sections. The most recent planning consent and subsequent funding bid will allow trail development in the north west section. However the circular route design is still being progressed, and a further planning application will be submitted at a later date for the south section subject to the issues raised being resolved.
Iain Stewart, Sustrans Network Development Manager in the South West of England said: “Dividing the originally circular route into sections and progressing those sections in turn has allowed everyone more time to listen and understand the concerns raised regarding the southerly section of the route between Bishop Sutton and Herons Bridge. This north west section of the trail provides an important traffic free route that will be accessible for all users whether on foot, in a pram, wheelchair, buggy or on bike. Realigning the road and widening the footpath to shared use over the dam will also help to deliver a reduction in the speed of road traffic.”
Steve Smith, Bristol Waters Lakeside Manager said; “The plan has been built around listening to the community and considering the delicate harmony between people and wildlife at the lake. Chew is internationally important for wildlife and so we need to balance our aspiration to make best use of this beautiful lake to support community wellbeing with the need to protect it as a wildlife habitat. This is a difficult balance to reach but was clearly heard from all those who took part in the consultation process and the subsequent scrutiny the proposal has been put through.”
Chris Head, a trustee of the Chew Valley Lake Recreational Trail added; “The team involved in developing the trail have had these obligations and guiding principles at the fore during this design phase and we will ensure they are continued during any construction works and as future proposals develop.”