06:00PM, Thursday 18 April 2019
A circular cycle route connecting Maidenhead and the Cookhams was on the agenda at a Royal Borough cycle forum on Monday.
The route is intended to provide a safe, traffic-free facility that would link to the existing National Cycle Network Route 50 between Maidenhead and Cookham Rise that follows a permitted path across the Summerleaze estate.
There may also be renewed interest to incorporate settlements further north into the scheme, including Winslow in Buckinghamshire, via Bourne End.
The ‘Cookham Recreational Cycle Route’ would use a combination of existing paths across both private land and public rights of way.
Local landowner Richard Copas contacted the Royal Borough regarding the proposal, with most private sections owned by the Copas family.
Negotiations are also underway with third parties – including the National Trust – who own Cookham Moor and Winter Hill along the route.
Gordon Oliver, principal transport planner at Project Centre – the borough’s highway consultants – said at the meeting that ‘it would be a lovely facility’, adding the cost could be anything from about half a million pounds to £3m.
Also speaking at the meeting, Cllr Malcolm Beer (OWRA, Old Windsor) said: “It is quite exciting because it might encourage other landowners to do the same.
“I think we should express our gratitude to Copas’ for putting this idea forward.”
The preference is to have an all-weather surface on the route that would be accessible for the majority of bikes.
“We need to make sure there is provision for surfacing on the worst parts and gradually build up from there as funding becomes available,” Cllr Beer added.
The proposal is identified within the Royal Borough’s ‘Cycling Action Plan’, which sets out the council’s priorities for investment in cycling for the next 10 years.
The council has already secured funding through the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership for improvements at Maidenhead station to incorporate cycle facilities, and over £2.2m in funding has been secured for a ‘missing links’ scheme to improve cycling and walking networks in the town.
However, the scheme’s status as a recreational facility means it is not a high priority in the short to medium term and may have to be delivered through alternative funding.
Also on the agenda was an update on the progress of a new shared use path alongside the A404 to connect Hurley Lane and Bradenham Lane, which is being delivered together with Highways England.
The Royal Borough has secured funding from the body to complet the missing link in the rights of way network between Maidenhead, Bisham and Marlow.
The new path will be set back from the main carriageway and constuction is scheduled to be complete by next month.
The meeting came to a relatively sombre end with the future of the Cycling Forum thrown into fresh doubt.
A full council debate in June 2018 agreed that a number of panels and forums had been agreed for deletion and restructuring following a Local Government Boundary Commission review.
Members of the cycling forum decided at the previous meeting in January that it would request the continuation of the group from May 2019 as a sub-committee of the relevant Overview & Scrutiny panel.
Speaking at the meeting, Cycle Forum chairman Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) said: “Everything is up in the air because of the local elections and we won’t know the results until May 2.
“It would be better to leave this at the moment. We do not have any options.”
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