Village cycle path left with missing link

PEOPLE in Pucklechurch who’ve been waiting decades for a safe route to Shortwood and Emersons Green for all road users will have to wait a little longer.

A section of a multi-use path has been completed over this spring and summer but the final part, on a dangerous bend, has been delayed because South Gloucestershire Council has not yet secured the land.

This means the path into the village currently ends with a ramp into a field. There is a right of way so able-bodied pedestrians can walk through the field to get to another section of path alongside the perimeter of Ashfield prison but cyclists face having to cross the road at a blind spot. In practice, this means they are likely to ride up from Shortwood on the road rather than use the new path.

The first section of the path was built 16 years ago and the part by the prison, which has never been popular with cyclists because of the dangerous exit, some years before that. Some villagers have questioned why the latest work, which necessitated months of temporary traffic lights,  was started before all land deals were completed. Others bemoaned the continued lack of access for pushchairs and wheelchairs. 

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering the Pucklechurch shared use path to provide a direct route linking Pucklechurch and other villages with amenities around Emersons Green and beyond, offering a healthy alternative to car travel. We have already built a large section of the path but have now paused construction while we work through legal aspects relating to land ownership along one section. 

“Negotiation between the council and different landowners has been required to deliver the shared use path. These negotiations have progressed at different rates, so it was decided to begin construction where agreement had already been reached with the relevant landowners. Once the final negotiations have been completed, we will then be able to start work on the last section to deliver the shared use path in the shortest timeframe possible.”

Boyd Valley councillor Marilyn Palmer, who was elected back on to the council in May, after the work had begun, said: “The current position is not satisfactory, and I have been assured that the council is working hard to secure the necessary agreements in order to complete the route.

“I have asked that once this is done, improved signage is provided and the overgrown vegetation cut back along the existing cycle path to make it more inviting to cyclists and pedestrians.”

Several trees, including a mature oak, had to be felled for the new path.

The council spokesman said: “A sympathetic landscape design has been developed to provide as much mitigation for the work as possible. Wherever possible the existing hedge and trees have been retained, although an established oak had to be felled. The change in levels between the existing ground/tree and the road/path are such that the oak tree would become unstable if left in place. A more varied mix of tree planting is being delivered with additional lengths of hedging and larger trees being planted. We have also been planting nearby within Pucklechurch to further increase local tree cover.”