04:50AM, Sunday 09 February 2014
A move to finally solve the 'missing link' conundrum on the Thames Path in Maidenhead has been welcomed - but it remains to be seen what the solution will be.
The Royal Borough is in talks with ramblers, landowners and nearby residents to try to find a way of creating a path across a 30m stretch of land near Maidenhead Bridge to complete the landmark trail.
A report will then be considered by the council's rights of way and highways licensing panel on March 4 to see how the project can move forward.
The much-debated stretch is situated at the end of Bridge Gardens, off Ray Mead Road, where the path is separated by the drives of a row of houses formerly occupied by a boathouse.
With no pavement on the river side of the road, ramblers have spent years facing the choice of either crossing a busy road twice or edging along the side of the road.
Everything from alternative routes to two zebra crossings have been considered in the past, but the borough is hopeful a solution can be found if an agreement can be reached with the landowners.
Cllr John Stretton, chairman of the rights of way panel, added: "I do think there's a way forward.
"We have struggling to resolve it for some time but we can't do it until the people who are immediately there are happy with it.
"Hopefully we can satisfy everyone."
Former East Berkshire Ramblers footpath secretary Margaret Bowdery, who has been campaigning for the completion of the Thames Path since the 1990s, said diverting the path to the slipway at the back of the houses remains the only option.
She said the council had 'no alternative' and the move should be made 'as a matter of urgency' due to the dangers to ramblers on the road.
But she added: "We welcome this move to find a solution."