Improvements to the Bird Walk
Refurbishment of the Bird Walk is planned to begin on Monday, November 30th and will continue for three or four weeks. The work will involve resurfacing the entire length of the footpath, with new fencing on the Stoke Lodge Hotel side and new hedgerow on the Farwell House side. Tree work is being undertaken to improve natural light. The Venn Lane end will be widened to be the same as at the Rectory Lane end, the owners of Farwell House having agreed to an adjustment to their boundary.
The footpath will remain open while the old fencing is removed and the replacement installed. Work will be carried out Monday – Friday from 8.00am to 5.00pm and the footpath will be floodlit at night. However, for five working days between 7th and 11th December access will be restricted while resurfacing takes place.
Highways have ruled out Cinders Lane – Dartmouth Road – Church Road as the official alternative pedestrian route on the grounds that Cinders and parts of the A379 are too narrow to have a dedicated walkway and leave room for traffic to pass safely, and they also ruled out Recreation Field – Dartmouth Road – Church Road for the same reason.
People can of course drive from one end of the village to the other, or catch a bus, but the official pedestrian route is Venn Lane to Venn Cross, along the valley and up Embridge Hill to School Road.
However, Highways have acknowledged that people can of course choose to go via Dartmouth Road if they wish, as they do every day and always have done; it is just not the official way to go!
We have done what we can to keep inconvenience to a minimum, and hope that the improvements will prove to have been well worth it.
The Bird Walk is a public right of way, and also forms part of the South West Coast Path. As such Highways is legally responsible for maintaining is surface but they have declined to help fund the work. The project has been managed by the Parish Council, which has also secured the necessary funding. That will be a combination of Section 106 funds resulting from the redevelopment of Windward, with contributions from the Parish Council itself, DCC’s Public Rights of Way section, Stoke Lodge Hotel and the Locality Fund. In addition the owners of Farwell House will undertake the planting of the new hedgerow at their own expense. The grants from the Locality Fund have been pledged by county councillor Julian Brazil and district councillor Helen Reeve. Architectural advice and plans have been provided by Adam Benns of BBH Architects.
The improvements are one of the policies contained in the Neighbourhood Plan, which came into force in February of last year.
In order to protect tree roots the new surface will be laid on top of the existing one, with supporting edge boards fixed between steel uprights set in concrete. The surface will be comprised of 150mm of hardcore base, on which will be laid 60mm of bitumen macadam.
On the Stoke Lodge Hotel side the uprights will be part of the new fencing, which will be 1.5 metres (5 feet) high. Shrubbery and hedging will be maintained at that height to improve visibility and natural light. Existing views of the pond within the grounds of Stoke Lodge Hotel will be preserved. The use of steel posts will ensure that the new fence is more robust than the existing one.
KD Plant Hire Ltd have been appointed as contractors and will work to a specification proposed by the architect, supervised by the council’s Neighbourhood Plan Committee.