Beaulieu Development Update

An update from Countryside covering the Beaulieu Development can be viewed/downloaded here.

Given that Beaulieu borders Channels, it’s useful to keep up to date with what’s going on and the update also contains some information about the Boreham Interchange works which are part of the wider plan leading to the RDR being opened in 2022.

Bridleway Update

The City Council Parks Team were due to undertake work on the section of Bridleway 18 which connects Channels (Bellway Homes development) with Beaulieu between 2nd-6th March. The project had already been re-scheduled from mid-February due to the need for a Traffic Regulation Order to temporarily close the section of bridleway whilst the works to lay the new surface are in progress. There was also a need to discuss and agree a time-frame for the works with Cadent Gas who require access over the land to their gas compound.

Whilst the Traffic Regulation Order technically came into force from 2nd March the Parks team, despite their best efforts, have struggled to obtain a response from Cadent Gas despite chasing regularly and as such the works have been re-scheduled again to start on 9th March.

Update 9th March
Work has started! The City Council Parks Team estimate that it will take a week to complete the temporary surface upgrade. All being well residents will have a surfaced route, which can be used in all weathers, week commencing Monday 16th March. 🙂

Pegasus Crossing Update

We have received an important update today in relation to the much needed crossing at the bottom of the bridleway, which runs adjacent to the Southern border of Eagle Rise (Bellway), to facilitate safe passage across Essex Regiment Way.

Essex County Council is now in a position where it can avoid a number of complex land issues (and potential public inquiry) which means that the Pegasus crossing design has commenced as it can now be delivered within Highway controlled land. This also means that the time-frame for delivery (i.e. design, tendering and installation) comes back into Council control.

As a result the project team has confirmed that the scheme will be out to tender in the spring with detailed design and approvals to follow. Dates for installation are not confirmed at this stage however it is hoped that construction would begin later this year and completed before the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Many thanks to Cllr John Aldridge and Little Waltham Parish Council who have lobbed strongly on our behalf over recent months.


Bridleway Update

Further to the last update in mid January, the City Council Parks team have visited and inspected the section of Bridleway 18 which connects Channels (Bellway Homes development) with Beaulieu.

It has been agreed that they will undertake works to create a temporary surface, akin to that shown in the photo below. The material will ‘self-bind’ and is porous so as to avoid any excessive surface water build up although the texture and colour may vary slightly from the image.

As the bridleway is so muddy and boggy in places, some sections will have to be dug out completely in order to lay the new surface. The works will require a temporary closure of this section of the path for approximately one week due to the need for a mini digger and smaller site vehicles to access the bridleway and remove material.

Update 20th February 2020
The City Council has advised that the works are now scheduled to take place between 2nd-6th March. This is because there has been a need to apply for a traffic regulation order to temporarily close the section of bridleway whilst the works to lay the surface are in progress. There was also a need to discuss and agree a time-frame for the works with Cadent Gas who require access over the land to their gas compound.

Bridleway (Eagle Rise to Beaulieu)

As previously noted, and following a site visit in early December, Chelmsford City Council has been liaising with the Essex County Council Highways team (who are in turn in discussion with Public Rights of Way team officers) with a view to laying limestone chipping along the 80m section of the bridleway route between the South West corner of Eagle Rise and Beaulieu. This will provide a temporary hard surface and whilst the route will remain unlit, it should be possible to negotiate safely without getting covered in mud.

We have been advised that Highways officers are currently seeking to ascertain the cost of the proposed temporary surface works and a source of funding has been identified to pay for the work.

The City Council Planning Officer is expecting to receive an update from Highways Officers by the end of this week and will aim to provide us with a confirmed position and hopefully, a timetable for completion of the works.

Footpaths Update

Further to information posted a month ago, and following further discussion with the City Council, we have some updates in relation to footpath infrastructure around the Channels development.

Bridleway (ERW to Eagle Rise)
The section of the bridleway from the point of connection with Eagle Rise to Essex Regiment Way is owned by a third party and not Countryside Zest.

The poor state of the bridleway has been noted and Essex County Council Highways are in discussion with the Public Rights of Way team with a view to laying limestone chipping on the 80m section of the bridleway route between Channels and the link to Beaulieu as a priority. This will provide a temporary hard surface and whilst the route will remain unlit, it should be possible to negotiate safely without getting covered in mud.

A Pegasus crossing is intended to be provided across Essex Regiment Way to connect the bridleway each side of the road. The crossing will see additional improvements to the bridleway route however this is unlikely to be delivered by Essex County Council until late 2020 at the earliest.

Footpath/Cyclepath to ERW Retail Units
Marden Homes are set to start work in January and envisage that the laying out of the Local Park (to the north of the Bellway development) will be a year long programme.

All stakeholders do however understand the urgency of opening an access path to the retail units on Essex Regiment Way for residents and progress will be monitored and reviewed each month to ensure it remains the priority for delivery. The new path is likely to be ready Spring 2020.

Channels/Beaulieu Links
Countryside Zest have made available a marked-up plan which shows the strategic footpaths/cyclepaths (primary and secondary) to be delivered through Beaulieu, including the connections to Channels.

This still does not provide a definitive timeline for all links and as such this is an area for which we will continue to push for further clarity.

Andrew Wright
Chair, Channels Residents Community Group

Footpaths Update

Following on from protracted correspondence with Countryside, Planning Officers and City Councillors, a meeting with representatives from Countryside and the City Council finally took place on Tuesday 19th November to discuss the footpath links between Channels & Beaulieu.

We walked around the Beaulieu site and were shown where new key links from Channels would be provided including whether these would be primary (hard surfaced and lit) or secondary (gravel and unlit).

Unfortunately it transpired that residents of Channels will have to endure the majority of the winter months with the only access to and from Beaulieu being via a dark and muddy bridleway or dark gravel paths.

Whilst there is recognition that the over-arching planning for joining up the developments could/should have been dealt with better, there is very little that can be done to resolve the current situation.

The pathway that leads from Niblick Green (parallel to the existing bridleway and past the new play park) should have been hard surfaced and lit around the time the play park opened in June 2019. However there have been significant technical issues experienced with the buff tarmac in other areas of Beaulieu (and Channels) and as such this part of the project has had to be re-specified, re-approved and re-scheduled. Had the path been hard surfaced and lit in line with the original timescale, there would have only been a relatively short section of gravel path to negotiate between hard, lit footpath & cycle ways.

Countryside will prepare a detailed mark-up plan, including all key links between Channels and Beaulieu, which will show the status of each route (primary/secondary) and the timescales for delivery.

The City Council Planning representative will also be assisting us in liaising with Essex Highways with a view to bark being laid along the most muddy section of the bridleway to ease access from the footpath connection at the western end of Eagle Rise across to the deer structure at Beaulieu.

We have spent considerable time, engaged a number of key stakeholders and explored every possible avenue in an attempt to improve the current situation. However it would appear that due to the complex phasing of the Beaulieu build, some technical problems that have been encountered and a number of additional ecological considerations, residents will have to continue navigating dark and muddy paths for the next few months when heading to and from Beaulieu.

The good news is that by the Spring/early Summer of 2020, there will be a much improved network of both primary and secondary routes for walking/cycling which will facilitate safe & easy movement to, from and around Beaulieu without the need to jump in a car.

Lastly a key meeting between Ptarmigan Land, landscape architects and Marden Homes is due to take place later this week. Marden Homes is responsible for delivering and laying out the open spaces north of Channels Drive including the local park through which a footpath will be provided to the roadside services on Essex Regiment Way. Once this meeting has taken place, there will be greater clarity on timescales for delivery of this key path.

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