Dear Cllr Hockley
Thank you for your interest in the Titchfield News article and for the efforts that you have made to enhance the canal.
The website article resulted from the Neighbourhood Forum, Footpaths and Cycle Paths sub group, which I chair, exploring the condition of local footpaths with the view to calling for maintenance as needed. We are interested in identifying circular routes from the village and publicising them so that local people and visitors have more things to do in Titchfield. This in turn would contribute to the goal of bringing more trade to the local businesses and securing the the village’s long term economic viability.
I contacted Dr Dent of Titchfield Haven to find out more about ownership and maintenance of the canal. We had a wide ranging discussion, which resulted in the plan to open up the canal path for wheelchair users, so there is now a RADAR lock on the gate at the Bridge Street end.
I said how the top section had been improved by the resurfacing and we both held the aspiration that this work should be continued right through to Meon Shore. When we considered how such a venture might be financed, it was clear that potential funders would need to see substantially increased access and usage before agreeing to contribute to the work. Dual use as a footpath and cycle path would be a logical way forward and it was felt that this would not adversely affect the wildlife. This would however bring additional requirements in terms of the width of the path, the surface and the cost, so is not an easy solution. Such a project would be complicated by the northern section having been completed already in narrow format and due consideration of the water voles and other wildlife.
The Titchfield Neighbourhood Forum objective is to influence current and future developments concerning the village. Its proposals will be subject to community consultation and approval. It has broached the subject of dual usage of the canal on the website and in the Parish Magazine and the response has been very interesting. There is some opposition, but the desire for a safe cycle route to the sea has been articulated and seems a reasonable aspiration. I trust the debate will be respectful and bring out all the views.
I note that Chris, in opposition to cycling on the canal path, recognised the issue of cycling on Posbrook Lane. The other part of the sub group’s work is to examine facilities and safety for cyclists. Posbrook Lane is much used by cyclists for both commuting and leisure. The Lane is very narrow and hectic especially at rush hour, so we are looking at what measures there might be to make the road safer for cyclists. We are also identifying circular cycle routes, of different lengths, from the village and intend to publicise them as with the footpaths. Safe walking and cycling routes for the children to school is also under consideration with personnel from the school and HCC.
I trust you will support the Neighbourhood Plan when it is completed.