New Stoke Park path approved despite fears of 'conflict' between walkers and cyclists
A CONTROVERSIAL mile-long path for cyclists and pedestrians following a historic carriage drive at Stoke Park has been approved.
Councillors voted unanimously to grant permission for the route after hearing wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs cannot use the open space between because of muddy fields.
Safety fears were raised and a 480-name protest petition submitted over the plans for the park, which is a key part of the city's "front garden" either side of the M32 and borders Stapleton, Broomhill and Frenchay.
Friends of Stoke Park member Stephen Bartle presented a petition asking for the proposals to be thrown out on the grounds they would “visually harm the very thing that is so special” about the area and cause “conflict” between walkers and cyclists at the 267-acre park.
City councillor Eleanor Combley (Green, Bishopston and Ashley Down) branded it “entirely unsuitable as a cycle route”.
But a council planning committee agreed with officers’ recommendation to give the go-ahead.
The 3m (10ft) wide path will run mostly north/south on the north west side of the park from Sir Johns Lane to Jellicoe Avenue, near the Dower House, with access at Stanfield Close, Romney Avenue and Long Wood Meadows via narrower spurs.
It will follow the former carriage ride created by 18th-century landscape gardener Thomas Wright who designed the estate.
There were 50 objections, mostly opposing any kind of development in the Stapleton and Frome Valley Conservation Area as well as concerns about conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, and 19 comments in support of improved access.
A report to councillors said: “The proposed development of open space is found to be acceptable in this instance on the basis the proposed use would enhance recreational use of the park.
“The proposal is not found to cause undue risk of conflict between users or result in dangerous conditions.”
Cllr Combley said: “Having cycling directed through fields of cattle is very unsafe, frequent gates are slow and inconvenient, sections are hazardously steep and a shared-use path which attempts to be both a cycle transport route and an accessibility leisure route has conflict between users built in. There is already a suitable route around the outside of the park which could be refurbished without cutting into the green space and provide a much safer alternative for both cyclists and other park users.”
Harriet Bradley (Lab, Brislington West) said: “It is really important that disabled people and mothers with children have access to these green spaces.
“At the moment they have real difficulties with this park, so I am totally in favour of this plan.”
The part of the planned path in neighbouring South Gloucestershire is still awaiting planning permission.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service