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Green Lane Opening Event

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Green Lane Community Path

The official opening of the Green Lane Community Path will take place on Sunday 23rd September at 2.30pm.

The widening and surfacing project is nearing completion and seems to be proving successful for many runners, starter bikes, walkers, mobility scooters and cyclists.

The official opening ceremony will take place at the 'Dinton Corner' along the track.

Cakes and soft drinks will be available.

The project was funded by a New Homes Bonus grant from AVDC. All are welcome to come and celebrate its successful completion and to thank those involved.

Here is a summary of the project, from the Haddenham Safe Walking & Cycling Group:

Background
For many years there has been the desire to connect Haddenham to Thame and Aylesbury with a cycle route. This has been divided into two projects, one in the direction of Thame and the other in the direction of Aylesbury. The Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan involved wide consultation with the community, was very well supported and includes projects for these cycle routes.

It is agreed by all that the highest priority is the connection to Thame and this route has been in the planning for about 20 years. The path falls within two different counties and after many years of hiatus where one or the other would not participate there is now agreement on moving forward. Recent developments in both Haddenham and Thame have required contributions from the developers towards this project, but much more will be needed and funding will need to be sought from the government. A detailed feasibility study for the route of the path is close to completion and will aid progression of the project.

A feasibility study, funded by a Bucks CC Local Area Forum grant for the cycle route to Aylesbury was carried out by Sustrans and completed in April 2015. This divided the route into two parts (1) Green Lane Bridleway from Haddenham to Haddenham Low on the A418 and (2) Haddenham Low on the A418 to Stone. The estimated cost to deliver the entire length of the path was £500,000.

The Green Lane section of the route has been used for centuries by Haddenham villagers but in recent years had become so muddy and overgrown with brambles and nettles it had become impossible for the majority of residents to use it. A project to deliver the first section of a cycleway to Aylesbury along Green Lane would not only deliver the first stage of the cycleway but bring the path back in to wider use as an accessible green space for the village where all ages and abilities can have access to nature, fresh air and exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle.
Funding for Green Lane

In 2016 Haddenham Safe Walking and Cycling Group approached the Parish Council to ask for support with an application to Aylesbury Vale District Council for a New Homes Bonus grant to deliver the Green Lane section of the route. The grant of £102,225 was awarded in June 2017.

Consultation
Initial support for the cycle path had come through the Neighbourhood Plan consultation process. Wider consultation on the more detailed plans was carried out with publicity at local events and on Haddenham.net, a variety of local groups and individuals have supported the proposals. Bucks County Council as the highway authority is responsible for bridleways and footpaths, along with the riparian land owners, so they have been consulted throughout and the team has worked closely with them.

Contractor
Once funding was secured, the Parish Council underwent a full tendering process to appoint a contractor to carry out the work. The contractor selected was Mark Nicholson who is based locally, with a good reputation and is Bucks County Council approved.

Delivery of the new path
It was agreed that Dr. Robyn Thorogood who is a retired civil engineer would project manage the work. Robyn was also instrumental in establishing Snakemoor Nature Reserve so has a broad knowledge of wildlife and conservation.
The work to the path has been carried out in 3 stages:

(1) Clearance of over overgrown vegetation
(2) Clearance of drainage ditches and a new culvert to reduce surface water flooding
(3) Laying of a 2.2m wide tarmac path

(1) Clearance of over overgrown vegetation
Mark started work on the clearance of the path in February 2018, this needed to be complete before the bird nesting season started. The 'beast from the east' snow and cold weather delayed nesting this year and Mark battled through the bad weather to get the clearance complete.

(2) Clearance of drainage ditches and a new culvert to reduce surface water flooding
The ground then needed to be left to dry out before work could start on laying the path, initially this was done by clearing a ditch at the A418 end. The very wet spring delayed work until to the land was dry enough to continue. Land Drainage Consent for a new culvert to manage the flow of water in the stream under the bridge was obtained from by Bucks CC and work to install this was carried out in early July. Ditches along the sides of the path were cleared of years of built up debris to reduce flooding on the path and neighbouring farmland.

(3) Laying of the path
The work to lay the tarmac path started in mid-July. Hard core was laid in 2 layers, firstly a reclaimed brick layer, then a crushed concrete layer this was then topped off with a layer of tarmac. The path was laid higher than the ditches to reduce the likelihood of flooding. Finally the edges were covered with topsoil, some from the ditches and some brought in.

Community Feedback
Whilst the improvements to the path are supported by many, there has been a vocal minority, in particular on a local Facebook Page who have been opposed to the project. The Project Manager, Contractor and Parish Council have been subjected to a high level of criticism from these individuals which we have tried to manage with professionalism. As far as possible the concerns raised have been answered and addressed and of course it is accepted that some will have preferred the overgrown muddy lane that existed prior to the work.
Since completion of the path more and more people have been seen using it many of whom express praise and thanks for creating a vehicle-free walking and cycling corridor, somewhere suitable for wheelchair users, learning to cycle, for kids' scooters and mobility scooters. Many walkers are taking advantage of a pleasant walk and some refreshments at The Bottle and Glass at Gibraltar or the Seven Stars at Dinton.

Future management of the path
The shared responsibilities that have always existed will remain. Bucks County Council is responsible for the maintenance of the structure of the path. The Parish Council, under a devolved services agreement is responsible for keeping the path clear of vegetation and obstruction. The riparian land owners are responsible for the maintenance of the hedges, trees and ditches on their boundaries.

As vegetation returns it will be monitored to see what wild flowers return, it is anticipated that many of those originally along the path will re-establish. These will be supplemented with additional native species and the verges will be managed to encourage biodiversity.

As with Snakemoor and the Community Orchard we hope to establish a group of volunteers to help with keeping the path as an attractive asset for the village.

Haddenham Safe Walking & Cycling Group
Haddenham Parish Council
September 2018