RIVERSIDE TRAIL AT STEPS, JACOBS GATE SITE OFF TROUTBECK ROAD
FULL OBJECTION AND COMMENTS OF SHEAF & PORTER RIVERS TRUST
On behalf of the Sheaf and Porter Rivers Trust the application is welcomed as a positive step towards resolving the current non-compliance with planning obligations and this key missing link in the River Sheaf Trail.
However the proposal is still defective in a number of ways compared to the previously approved application drawings, and there is no accompanying explanation of why this is.
The application form simply says there has been a ‘Pre-application Meeting with Planning Officer and Enforcement Officer to discuss the proposals and issues faced with installing a 3m wide cycle path and the agreement in principle, of a 2m wide walkway.’ However these reasons are not included in the application.
However the Trust has engaged with and discussed these issues directly with Jules Leahy of STEPS,, one of the joint applicants in order to fully understand their particular concerns and sensitivities.
We acknowledge that STEPS is a valuable and admirable therapeutic facility, We also believe there is a way forward which maximises the quality and useability of the proposed trail for all users including staff, clients and residents of STEPS and Addlington whilst mitigating negative impacts on the operation of STEPS.
In light of these discussions we would highlight the following concerns and propose the following amendments which we believe are acceptable to STEPS;
a)the proposed trail is shown only two metres wide throughout, whereas the previously approved drawings showed a 3m width. The adjoining trail to which it connects (constructed by the current joint applicant Gladman) is also 3m, allowing passing of cycles and wheelchairs
b)The cross-sections show the trail contained between two high fences, apparently both solid,
creating an unattractive and constrained environment for users without views of the river
c) the change in width plus the tall fencing at the junction between STEPS and Addlington sites
creates a blind spot which will increase fears of crime
d) The plans do not show the two small outbuildings built by STEPS within the riverside part of their site. These structures appear to be part of the reason for narrowing the trail, although they have not been the subject of any planning application and were constructed after the request for enforcement was lodged by the Trust
The trail should be constructed as much as possible to 3m in width, with narrowing only where an identified and unmoveable constraint requires it. In discussion with STEPS they have agreed that this widening would be acceptable to them at both ends of their proposed section where non operational space exists in their ownership to accommodate a 3m width, including removal of the low wall at the rear of the Garden Room.
The trail could then taper to a 2m width where it runs next to the STEPS garden area, which is an
important area for their work, and where some form of intermittent screening is desirable without wholly obscuring views of the river.
The riverside edge of the trail should also be bounded only by a low and open metal railing for safety purposes similar to that used on other riverside trails throughout the city.
The status and maintenance of the trail also needs further clarification and discussion. The Trust togther with the local River Stewardship Company is currently developing a River Guardian project which may be able to help address this issue
Completion of this link to a satisfactory and consistent standard will allow the Trust to resume its so far positive discussions with Tesco to complete the remaining missing link across their land south of Addlingtons site to the existing trail from Archer Rd South.
We would add that the two businesses involved here (Addlington/Gladman and STEPS) are
respectively a sheltered housing provider and a centre for physical therapy. Clients and customers of both these businesses will be among the first to benefit from a safe and attractive walking route in nature to local shops, public transport and Millhouses Park, avoiding heavily trafficked Abbeydale Road and associated steep gradients.