Vital link in Downs to coast cycle route

CYCLISTS and pedestrians are being promised a ‘high quality, safe and attractive’ route from villages west of Arundel, up into the Downs at Slindon.

The cycleway will also provide better links between Walberton and Barnham, encouraging more people to cycle and walk between the two villages for shopping, leisure, travel to schools and to and from Barnham railway station.

Eventually, it would be part of a coast to Downs cycle route, attracting visitors to West Sussex and encouraging residents to explore the area by using healthier, sustainable means of transport.

Much of the route will be along the busy Barnham Lane, between Barnham and Walberton, which has no footpath for much of its length, is narrow and has high hedgerows, reducing visibility.

West Sussex County Council has now submitted plans for the middle section of the track, an off-road path for cyclists, pedestrians and mobility scooter users, although not for horses, on the edge of farmland along the western side of Lake Lane. It would be just over a kilometre long, from north of New Cross Nurseries, Walberton, to Eastergate Lane, and would have a smooth, Tarmac surface.

Work is due to start next year on the first phase of the scheme, widening the existing path from the southern end of Barnham Lane to just north of New Cross Nurseries.

The third stage will provide a new shared-use path on the northern side of Arundel Road, Fontwell, continuing with a cycle path through the subway under the A27 dual- carriageway to Dukes Road, near Slindon Woods.

County council officers spell out the benefits of the middle, off-road section alongside Barnham Lane in a statement supporting the planning application. They say: “The perceived safety issues form a considerable barrier to residents of Barnham and Walberton walking and cycling between the villages. A safer off-road shared use path would encourage more trips using sustainable modes for commuting, school, retail, and leisure purposes.”

Much of the land needed for this second phase is already owned by the county council as part of a tenanted farm. The tenant supports the scheme, as does a neighbour, who has agreed to provide some garden land needed for the path.

A stock-proof fence would be built between the cycleway and the farmland. There would be no lighting, however.

Barnham and Walberton parish councils and the area’s county councillor, Derek Whittington, who is also the county council’s cycling and walking ‘champion’, have all expressed support for the planning application.

The county officers add: “The proposed shared use path will become an important route for daily access to local schools, shops and the rail station at Barnham. It will provide inclusive access for all. Being away from the highway, it will be a safer route and help in reducing severance between Barnham and Walberton caused by the road layout and lack of footway provision.”

The county council has secured money for the Slindon Woods to Barnham route from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.