19 Feb 2009

Spinney Path

The path through the 'Spinney' (next to No 35 Drakes Drive - Top Photo) leading to Hill End Lane was open for use in September 2008 (when I first drafted this post) but not fully completed until recently.

The finishing touch - a generous width path across the grass verge of Hill End Lane to reach the intended destination of Highfield Park - was missing for the intervening four months. I happened to go that way today and was pleased to find it complete - Lower Photo.

The path through the Spinney itself is wide and well constructed, with a surface which has the appearance of loose gravel, but is actually sealed and stable to ride on.
Design was done by Groundwork Hertfordshire.
The gentle curves between the trees are very attractive. Smaller shrubs have been removed giving an open airy feel with good sight lines.

At the two ends there are slalom barriers to slow bikes down before emerging on to footways. (These were initially designed to be much tighter, which would have made them unsuitable for trailer bikes and child trailers. Fortunately STACC saw the problem just in time and wider spacing was adopted.)

I asked a mum with a child tag-along how she found the access and she confirmed that the barriers were just OK. If you use a child or goods trailer, we would like to know your verdict (just add a comment to this post).

What the Path Provides
The Spinney Path is the final link in the Camp Cycleway, which gives a traffic free walking and cycling link for the following destinations: Highfield Park, Highfield residential estate, Windermere and Camp Schools, Camp Road - Cell Barnes Lane Junction.
It improves the journey to Cunningham School and Cell Barnes shops.
Further afield, it improves the journey to St Albans City Station (just a short stretch of on-road cycling remains) and to the City Centre. It is a useful link through Highfield Park to London Colney. (It also ought to help use of Hill End Lane as a quiet alternative to Drakes Drive for those going to Francis Bacon School but the back gate of the school is thought not to be usable - since the school had the ancient right of way extinguished, in total disregard of community interests.)

The Spinney path was planned over 9 years ago - a detailed plan (No 5/99/1031) was completed in 1999 and put out to public consultation, whereupon several residents of Chivenor Place made a concerted objection (in spite of the fact that the path had been planned well before their houses were built).
The theme of their complaint was that all sorts of terrible things would happen to them if those awful cyclists were allowed anywhere near their back fences. Unfortunately their moans were heeded by a local councillor and a stalemate ensued. During the intervening years, STACC kept the matter alive - it has been on the agenda of every STACC meeting and Council Cycling Forum. I am certain that without STACC pressure the whole thing would have been quietly forgotten.
Gradually the scheme was revived - but then it was found that SADC planning department had lost all trace of the original plan 1031 making it necessary to find funds to redesign from scratch. Step by weary step we have arrived at completion.
Happily we find that the attitude of some (perhaps all?) Chivenor Place residents has taken a positive direction, possibly influenced by the STACC member who now lives amongst them! One even mentioned to a council officer how much they were looking forward to open day. Another, I notice, already has a gate installed in his back fence to more easily access the path - can't be more positive than that. I hope they as well as the rest of us will enjoy the benefits it brings

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