New bridleway opens up missing link

by Sarah Dobson

A new bridleway in Hove will open up a missing link in the city's footpath network, giving countryside access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The new path, which links rights of way on Benfield Hill and the New Barn Farm area with the Dyke Railway trail and beyond, has been created by West Hove Golf course and Brighton. & Hove City Council's countryside team and the South Downs National Park Authority.

The opportunity to open the path arose after West Hove Golf Club approached the SDNPA for planning permission for an acoustic bund, buffering the course from the A27. Creating the new bridleway and opening up the surrounding access land was one of the planning conditions.

This bridleway is one of the 'Missing Links'identified in the council's original Rights of Way Improvement Plan drawn up in 2007. (This is a statutory plan that every Highways Authority must have to show how it intends to improve access for diverse users.)

Missing Links are gaps in the system of paths that, if filled, would greatly improve the

connectivity of the whole network and were identified by members of the Local Access Forum.

The forum members, including representatives from walking, cycling, horse riding and land management, have been working for the last 10 years to help plug these gaps and have welcomed the opening of this new link in the bridleway network.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou, chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: "I am delighted that by working in Partnership with The National Park Authority and West Hove Golf Club we have been able to open this missing link and create an attractive and high quality east-west route, north of the A27 for cyclists, horse riders and walkers.

"The opening of this new bridleway is an important step toward the council delivering on the targets of its new Rights of Way Improvement Plan (2017 - 2027) which aims to provide: 'A well connected network, more user friendly and more beneficial to local people."

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Image: Stephen Lawrence

The new route will also help increase biodiversity in the area after wildflowers have been planted in the chalk grassland. These flowers are a fantastic source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other insects. Hibernacula, which are animal refuges, have also been created to support several reptile species.

Andrew Lee, Director of Countryside Policy and Management at the South Downs National Park Authority, said: "This project significantly improves the rights of way network in the

National Park's Hangleton and Portslade area and creates a wonderful opportunity for the public to enjoy this new species-rich chalk grassland. It also creates an important wildlife corridor to help support biodiversity between existing nature sites.

"The chalk grassland will be managed by cut and collect for a few years and, ultimately, the plan is for the land to be grazed by sheep. This will be a better way of managing the site and will be much more productive for the biodiversity of the area."

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The route provides a much needed link between the New Barn Farm / Benfield Hill area and the Dyke Railway Cycle path and beyond. The path can be used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders

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