Wokingham Borough Council’s plan to improve its Public Rights of Way (PROW) network has been approved by its decision-making executive after extensive public consultation with residents, local community groups and town and parish councils.
The network, which consists of 233km of PROW, is 15% of the total highway network within Wokingham Borough and is used by thousands of residents to travel across the borough as part of their regular commute, and more relevant now for daily exercise during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Great progress was made over the previous ten year plan with new rights of way in the council’s major development areas; resurfacing pathways that link to schools, local amenities and public transport; replacing stiles in conjunction with the Loddon Valley Ramblers; preventing the illegal use of paths; and more.
The plan for the next ten years will build upon this work, and contains 84 actions to fill gaps, improve information about the network, and create more off-road links between towns and more circular routes, as well as increasing accessibility and improving surfaces and drainage, while protecting river banks and helping encourage wildlife.
After significant consultation with the public, the original improvement plan was updated to include, as requested, a new revised list of proposed routes, as well as a greater emphasis on creating multi-use routes instead of cycle routes, which allow horse riding and cycling.
The new plan also takes into consideration any changes that would restrict existing vehicle access and looks at other options to balance the needs of all users while encouraging increased engagement with vehicle user groups to solve problems on byways.
“There have been many successes over the past 10 years. Looking forward to the next 10 years, we need to build on the work that has been done and take it to the next level,” said Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure.
“Encouraging use of the network has always been a part of our plan, but now more than ever we hope to encourage the use of sustainable transport. We are going to create more walking and cycling routes between towns and villages so a greener way of travelling is possible and more appealing.
“We are grateful to all our residents and local communities who have provided vital feedback through the consultation which has allowed us to update our improvement plan and provide a proposal that will benefit our residents for the next ten years and beyond.”
Public rights of way are public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways. They are a crucial part of a wider network which includes public parks, nature parks, permitted routes, cycle routes and the wider highway network.
For further details visit www.wokingham.gov.uk and search ‘Footpaths and Bridleways’.