Is Battlemead on the right path?

Shay Bottomley

The debate over a controversial footpath at Battlemead Common continued at a steering group meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting, held in private between local stakeholders, councillors and officers, discussed the proposals to open a footpath across Battlemead’s East Field.

Wild Cookham and Wild Maidenhead have both raised objections over the plans to open the field for public access, while supporters say that a footpath would connect a ‘missing link’ to the Millennium Walk.

After much debate and controversy over the proposals, including a petition against the plans, officers will now put forward a report with a recommendation at a future cabinet meeting.

Discussions for the path included the installation of a fence which will be ‘screened’ to ensure it is suitable for the surrounding environment.

The fence, which is likely to feature natural hedgerows or willows, will ensure that walkers are able to cross the field with minimal disruption to wildlife. It will also be ‘dog-proof’ following an incident last year in which a deer was killed.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Donna Stimson, lead member for climate change, sustainability, parks and countryside and chair of the Battlemead Steering Group, said that it had been ‘very interesting’ to hear the differing views, and added that there was a sense of ‘relief’ in the room following the meeting.

“We talked about opening it [East Field] up; obviously, there are some people who want it open all year round, and there some who don’t want it open at all,” said Cllr Stimson.

“The officers are going to put forward a recommendation to cabinet. Normally, in this situation, the officers would sign it off, but we just felt it would be better to put a report forward to cabinet in this instance.”

She added that ecological surveys had been conducted on both the East Field and the wet woodland area at the south of the site, the latter of which is a designated priority habitat.

There were also discussions over a new car park in Lower Cookham Road, which would provide easier access for mowing as well as residents who wish to visit the site.

If planning permission is agreed, the car park would be free to prevent parking on the nearby road.

“At one stage the proposals were for 26 spaces in the car park; now, it’s 14, of which four will be for disabled parking,” said Cllr Stimson.

“We all agreed that a smaller car park would be more appropriate because it’s not a park, it’s a space for enhancing wildlife and for education and awareness.

“The meeting was to get the consensus of everybody concerned, and I felt that we did that.”

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