Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document Transport Q39. Are there any other transport issues or challenges that have been missed? How can they be addressed in the Local Plan? [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 4417537//2
Respondent Local Access Forum [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 08 Jan 2019
Comment

Throughout the area, there is a very fragmented network of public rights of way and, financially restricted as NSC is, the LAF is well aware that there is precious little money available to improve it. At the same time, NSC is charged with encouraging people to get more exercise.  As stated above, the increased traffic following on from the new construction means that walkers, cyclists, horse riders and vulnerable road users – all indulging in healthy exercise – will be more and more at the mercy of traffic and this may result in many people no longer having the nerve to use what would once have been quiet roads for this purpose.  It is important that NSC takes into consideration that horse riders make a significant contribution to the economy of North Somerset and keep hundreds of people employed in the more rural areas (vet, farrier, feed merchant, tack shops, livery yards, riding stables etc. etc).  In addition, post Brexit, farm subsidy payments seem likely to be based around 'public good', so it makes sense to be sure that vulnerable road users are not deterred, even from using the existing network of rights of way, by the increased traffic.

To promote healthy lifestyles and improve local access and rights of way, and comply with the Equality Act 2010, the LAF recommends that NSC makes provision of multi-user access a requirement in all new land development. Specifically, existing footpaths or other rights of way should be augmented to multi-user routes wherever practical.  We define multi-user routes as follows:

'A multi-user public right of way is one which permits the following groups of vulnerable non-motorised users to use it: walkers, cyclists and horse riders; the exception to non-motorised users is for the use of electric wheelchairs and mobility vehicles to ensure to those with more limited mobility are also included.'

Although the term 'multi-user path' has never been defined legally, there is a legal right of way which would encompass all of these vulerable user groups: bridleways.  It is suggested by the LAF that when discussing any new mulit-user paths proposed by the Council, or upgrades to existing rights of way,  the above definition should be utilised unless there is a compelling reason why it should not, or that the status of bridleway is applied to ensure that all user groups are covered under law.  This would both ensure that all vulnerable user groups are catered for and represents the best value for both the public and public money as it applies to the widest possible range of users.

Summary
To promote healthy lifestyles and improve local access and rights of way, the LAF recommends that NSC makes provision of multi-user access a requirement in all new land development.
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