Burgess Hill, Green Circle: Notice of the Footpath and Bridleway Creation Agreements entered into by WSCC and MSDC under Section 25 of the Highways Act 1980, situated at Burgess Hill, Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint, were advertised in the Mid Sussex Times on 19th Dec 2013, and an 'official opening' was held on Wed 8th Jan. These paths have been used permissively by horse riders for a number of years, but the route to securing formal dedication has been long and arduous. Well done to Hilary Pierce of Mid Sussex Area Bridleways Group for continuing to pursue this outcome over the years.

South Downs Nat Park: The SDNPA's consultation on their Partnership Management Plan (PMP) received a total of 252 replies; 58% of these were from individuals and the remainder from organisations. Several substantial points for consideration in the final revision of the PNP were put forward, and as a result a number of changes have been made, including providing a summary and a shorter, simpler version of the whole document. The final text of the PMP was agreed and the plan adopted by the SDNPA at a meeting on 3rd Dec 2013. The PMP will be published at the end of the year.

Horsham FP 1691: As a condition of Persimmon Homes planning consent for 5 new dwellings, part of FP 1691 between Brambling Close and Hammerpond Road in Horsham will be upgraded to BW status, widened and surfaced. Although this upgrade will be of greatest benefit to walkers and cyclists, it will provide a link between BW 1696, via Heron Way, Brambling Road and Hammerpond Road to BW 1697/2 if local riders wish to use it.

Downs Link: Cyclists have started a campaign to get the section of the Downs Link between Partridge Green and Betley Bridge which runs across Mr Nash's field hard surfaced. They say during the winter this section 'is extremely muddy and often sodden following a few days of rain. During one period last year the ground became waterlogged as far as the river'. I would be very interested to hear horse riders views, so if you ride this section or know anyone who does please get in touch.

WSCC Staff update: The BW Work Programme Officer, Emily Delicata, went on maternity leave in early Jan and Nick Scott will be her replacement for 2014. Jo Williams has replaced Tom Weedon as Access Ranger for Area 2, Tom has replaced Darren Rolfe as Volunteer Co-Ordinator. WSCC Countryside Services budget will be cut in 2015 by £275k, a plan must be in place by May 2014 as to how this will be done. We have been extremely fortunate in the last 2 or 3 years not to suffer the drastic budget cuts made in neighbouring counties, so this does not come as a surprise, but I will be keeping a close eye on developments!! I have recently been informed that WSCC has made a policy decision not to present at Public Inquiry the case for orders it has made and otherwise supports. The case for the confirmation of an order at inquiry now falls to be made by the applicant. I have asked that this decision be made an Agenda item at our next User Group meeting in January in order to obtain clarification.

BW Closures: Heyshott 3545 is closed for 6 months from 5th Dec 2013 to equestrians only due to concerns raised about the bridge on the route. Loxwood 622/3 is closed for 21 days from 5th Jan 2014 to protect public safety during lock reinstatement works. To be followed by a further 6 month closure.

Sussex Wildlife Trust: Following the consultation on the future management of Iping and Stedham Commons in August 2013, a copy of the consultants report along with the SWT's response to their recommendations can be found on the SWT website. In Nov SWT consulted on the installation of perimeter fencing, the preferred option of respondents, which as the common is criss-crossed with BWs will result in the need for a total of 15 gates to enable equestrian/cycle access! The Trust would graze with British White cattle (min 15 max 30) possibly supplemented with native ponies (after consultation with local riders). Signage would advise when cattle are grazing, which would not be year round), and gates would be locked open when livestock are not present. The cost of gates and fencing is approx £40-£50k and SWT will apply for a grant from Natural England's Higher Level Stewardship Scheme and other sources. SWT have been requested to provide a link route inside the fencing between the 4 BWs whose entry/exit is on the A272 to the north of the common. There will be a route outside of the fencing for those riders who do not wish to enter the common when cattle are present. You will find the consultation on SWT's website, so please do respond with your views if you will be affected, the end date is Monday 24th Feb

. Upper Beeding BW 2758 (The Bostal): The Planning Inspectorate has advised that two Orders relating to the upgrading to BOAT of 113m of BW 2758, south from Henfield Road to join BOAT 2761, will be determined following a hearing due to be held at 10am on Tuesday 4th Feb 2014 at WSCC, County Hall, Chichester. It is open to anyone who has made an objection or representation and anyone else with an interest in the Orders to attend the Hearing. There are a number of objections to the Orders on grounds relating to the unsuitability of the route for vehicles, and the safety of vulnerable users, however these are not matters that are relevant to the Inspector's consideration of the Order. The archival and documentary evidence appears to clearly establish that the claimed route was part of a public highway from Horsham to Shoreham.

Bignor Hill: The very wet weather has delayed the turning out of cattle on Bignor Hill, and this is unlikely now to happen before mid Jan at the earliest. A new permissive BW outside of the fenced area has at last been cut, although one tree is still to be removed, and NT have yet to 'mow' the path with a specialist machine which is awaiting repair. For various reasons Sussex cattle will not now be used for grazing, the Tuppers have bought 12 steers for the purpose, which NT have said they will be monitoring closely to ensure there are no problems (feedback from local riders will be welcomed). Local users should check that the gates are open/ tied back when cattle are not present.

Crawley BW dedications: The 3 creation agreement documents have at last been prepared by WSCC, and should be with CBC in early Jan for signature. Similar to the situation with the Green Circle routes at Burgess Hill (mentioned previously), the three sections of paths being formally dedicated, have been used permissively by horse riders (and cyclists) for a number of years, but it has been a struggle to achieve formal dedication. This is a very urban area, and to permanently gain 3 off-road routes (one of which runs north to south through the middle of Tilgate Park) is more than was ever hoped for - thank you Crawley BC!!

Highways Agency: The HA have been holding a series of workshops (one of which I attended on the 9th Oct) to explain and gather information for Route-Based Strategies (RBS), their new approach to investment planning for the strategic road network RBS will be used to bring together all of the different interested groups, gather info and identify priorities relevant to the future of a section of the strategic road network (in West Sussex this will cover the A27 and A23). In a recent report HA have been advised to be more independent from Government (there will be a change of status to a Gov company), and to have a longer term investment strategy from 2015. By 2015 HA must become more responsible for the money they spend and how they spend it (not be directed by Gov), this will bring more empowerment at local level. As we have engaged with HA many times before on various other schemes, it remains to be seen whether this will bring any benefits for NMUs.

WSLAF: The Access Forum met on 23rd Oct in Chichester and listened to a presentation from Peter Philips (Highways Agency Asset Manager, West Sussex) on their new Route-Based Strategy. Members were particularly concerned about plans for the A27, especially in regard to NMU crossings to link the Coastal Plain with the National Park to the north, HA does not appear to prioritise this need. WSLAF was asked to supply any additional evidence available to support the need. WSCC secretarial and technical support for WSLAF has declined due to budget cuts and pressure of work on officers, and this is likely to continue. A subgroup was formed to address the situation with WSCC management. A recruitment drive to increase membership will be a priority in 2014. The next meeting (AGM) is on Wed 5th Feb 2014 at County Hall North in Horsham, and is open to the public.

South Downs LAF: At its meeting in Arundel on 17th Oct, Forum Members heard from SDNPA Officers about the Partnership Management Plan consultation feedback and next steps. The aim is to formally submit the Local Plan to the SoS in June 2016, the Plan covers the period up to 2035. Officers are preparing a Green Infrastructure Study at present, which it is hoped will be published for consultation shortly. Kevin Haugh (Natural England) confirmed they had managed to obtain funding for a LAF National Conference next year - all funds available for the P4C scheme have now been allocated, so the scheme is closed, some problems were encountered with upfront payments, matchfunding, and very short completion dates. Andy Gattiker presented a draft SDW Event Guidelines and Charter document for discussion which was generally supported. Next meeting is on 21st Jan, venue tbc.

Eartham: Installation of the signage for the high-sided vehicles parking area at Eartham Woods was finally completed at the end Oct, with photos taken for an agreed FC press release. Hopefully now car drivers will understand who the parking area is actually for, I understand the area is being well used by horseboxes and trailers. I attended a meeting in Nov with FC and NT when agreement was confirmed that horse riders now have permission to use a number of additional tracks in Eartham (signage states 'Riders may use bridleways and all gravel tracks.'). An interpretive board on site will show the routes available and the tracks will be signed on the ground, and it is important that once all is in place riders respect and keep to the paths shown. A map of usable paths will also be available to download on the Eartham website. Funding contributions are required for clearance and possible surfacing of some tracks. It is hoped work will be completed by the end of March 2014.

Pulborough FP 2308/3; The Order for diversion of part of this FP, which the landowner had agreed to subsequently upgrade to BW, was submitted to the SoS for confirmation in August 2013. Regrettably, the SoS returned the Order to WSCC in Sept explaining that due to drafting errors in the Order and on the map attached to the Order that have become apparent, the SoS would take no further action. It appears the landowner is now having doubts about continuing with the upgrade of the new route, and WSCC are in negotiations with him. If he agrees to continue with the upgrade, which will provide a safe, off-road link between BW 2309 and BW 2308/4. WSCC will re-make the Order without going back to Committee. If he decides to go ahead with the diversion application without the upgrade, the Order will need to go back to Committee for a decision

. E-ON Rampion Offshore Windfarm: The draft Development Consent Order was published for consultation in Dec 2013.

A23 Handcross to Warninglid widening scheme: After a great deal of lobbying, HA have agreed to formally dedicate as BW the new off-road route they are creating for NMUs from Staplefield Road south to the new access road on the western side of the A23. This route gives access to the new BW underpass, however, establishing a route from the underpass to Staplefield Lane on the eastern side of the A23 is proving challenging!!!

Consultations Adur Draft Local Plan MSDC - Environment Agency - Upper Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme (Clays Lake, Pease Pottage)

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