Natural England - Paths for Communities passes milestone

Paths for Communities passes milestone

23 January 2013

Local groups in Sheffield, Kent and West Mersea are the first to be awarded grants, totalling £137,860, from Natural England’s Paths for Communities (P4C) programme

P4C is developing and enhancing the Public Rights of Way (PRoW) network in England to deliver community and economic benefits to rural areas.

Essex-based Discover Mersea will create new public footpaths as well as improving existing ones so that more people can enjoy the region’s rich history. The project will improve wheelchair and pushchair access and create two new public rights of way.

Discover Mersea plan to use the talents of a local artist and Essex Wildlife Trust to create new interpretation boards and promotional material. By installing a safe and easy-to-use boardwalk, the project will deliver environmental benefits by reducing the impact of walkers through the Blackwater Site of Special Scientific Interest, part of a larger wetland of international importance.

Sheffield’s Greno Woods will provide a much needed bridleway through a combination of upgrading footpaths and the creation of a brand new right of way. Greno woods lies on the edge of Sheffield and is extensively used by the local community. The community play a very active part in the management of these woods and this project is a direct response to the community’s needs for improved access. The bridleway will also help the Sheffield Wildlife Trust manage the woods for wildlife, by giving users clear, well-defined routes and taking pressure off adjacent areas of the woodland. Having accepted the grant offer the Sheffield Wildlife Trust are wasting no time in getting on with the work which they hope to complete soon.

The Godmersham Multi-user link scheme sits in the Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is developing a bridleway link between Ashford and Canterbury. The project crosses privately-owned land and is enthusiastically supported by business, the community, the Highway Authority and the Local Access Forum. The route was agreed in negotiation with landowners, and the consultation closed with unanimous support.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “New paths into the countryside will give more people greater opportunities to enjoy nature and discover hidden treasures. They will breathe new life into rural areas and help local businesses by bringing in more visitors.”

Natural England’s Access Director, Liz Newton said “The Paths for Communities scheme is a great opportunity to help communities increase the extent and accessibility of their local paths network. We are delighted to be awarding grants to these three outstanding projects and it’s terrific to see local groups taking action for local access.”

Local community partnerships are eligible to bid to Natural England, which administers the £2million grant scheme on behalf of Defra. Bids will be considered for schemes that provide:

  • Improvements to existing PRoW that encourage use by a wider range of people with different needs (e.g. improved accessibility for wheelchairs and pushchairs, benches for elderly);

  • Improvements to the network to increase the opportunity for access on foot, cycle or horse and to widen the appeal to visitors and residents;

  • Promotion of the improved network to encourage more use and better support for local services such as shops, pubs, hotels, bed and breakfasts, attractions and cycle and equestrian businesses;

  • Better integration with public transport services and links to popular destinations.

Community organisations considering applying for a P4C grant are encouraged to email Natural England at P4C@naturalengland.org.uk as soon as possible.

Ends

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Lyndon Marquis, lyndon.marquis@naturalengland.org.uk, 0300 060 4236

About Paths for Communities

Paths for Communities is a funding scheme set up to develop and enhance the network of Public Rights of Way (PROW) in England in order to deliver benefits to rural areas. Local community partnerships are eligible to bid to Natural England for funds. The aim of P4C is to encourage and support local communities to work with land owners to make improvements to the network of Public Rights of Way. In all cases P4C projects must include some element of new Public Right of Way creation. In most cases projects will include an element of new Bridleway creation but projects that include Footpath creation alone will also be considered where community and economic benefit can be demonstrated. Applicants for P4C grant should also consider how to secure:

  • Improvements to existing Public Rights of Way that encourage use by a wider range of people with different needs (e.g. improved accessibility for wheelchairs and pushchairs, benches for elderly);

  • Improvements to the network to increase the opportunity for access on foot, cycle or horse and to widen the appeal to visitors and residents;

  • Promotion of the improved network to encourage more use and better support for local services such as shops, pubs, hotels, bed and breakfasts, attractions and cycle and equestrian businesses;

  • Better integration with public transport services and links to popular destinations.

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