Bridleway AY4 between Sulgrave and Weston is shown on the map below:
The Local Highway Authority, Northamptonshire County Council, is seeking views on a proposal to divert this bridleway where it passes under the former Great Central Railway, as shown below:
Whilst Sulgrave Parish Council is very concerned as to the dangerous state of the AY4 tunnel under the former Great Central Railway, it considers that this structure should be repaired rather than the bridleway diverted. The Council is seeking the views of users of this bridleway before making observations to the County Council, which have to be made by February 28th.
Full details on next page.
Bridleway AY4, also known as the “Green Lane to Weston” is a direct link, approximately 2 miles in length, between Sulgrave and Weston. It is well used by pedestrians, horse riders and off road cyclists from the the two villages and by visitors to the area, especially ramblers’ groups. Just over half a mile from Sulgrave it passes under the disused former Great Central Railway by way of a tunnel.
The brickwork forming the entrances to this tunnel has been neglected over many years. The owners of the land have erected scaffolding at either end to prevent bricks falling on users of the tunnel. Following this year’s heavy rains, the state of repair of the tunnel entrances is such that a landslide of the earth above the tunnel could cause a complete collapse against which the scaffolding would afford no protection. The Parish Council strongly advises users of the bridleway to avoid passing under the tunnel until the entrances have been adequately repaired.
Northamptonshire County Council, as the Highway Authority, has now made an order for the diversion of the bridleway. As shown on the map on the first page, this diversion would prevent users of the bridleway from passing through the tunnel. Instead they would be required to turn northwards and climb the hill following the fence, cross the disused railway where it is at the same level as the field and then turn immediately southwards to reach the other side of the tunnel. This diversion of over a third of a mile would place users no more than a hundred yards further along the bridleway, having been required to climb some 50 feet in height only to lose it again immediately.
In the Parish Council’s view, this would be a regrettable imposition upon users of an ancient bridleway forming a direct and much valued link between Sulgrave and Weston which was created long before the construction of the railway. The Council considers that the order should not be confirmed but that the tunnel should be repaired so as to allow pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists to exercise their ancient rights to pass safely and unhindered along bridleway AY4.
In addition, the Council considers that until it was allowed to fall into decay, the tunnel formed an interesting element in the walk or ride between the two villages. The entrances were (and could be once again) an attractive reminder of the Great Central Railway, having been built from bricks made from clay from the nearby pit. That being so, it could be that English Heritage might consider the structure as worthy of listing as being of special architectural or historic interest. This would ensure its retention in a good state of repair for the benefit of future users of the bridleway.
Without prejudice to its view that the tunnel should be repaired, the Parish Council would be prepared to discuss with the County Council a more interesting diversion than the “straight up and down” one which is proposed, perhaps leaving bridleway AY4 at the end of the green lane and following the high ground on either side of the bridge near Manor Farm (known as Lamby to older residents) before rejoining AY4 further on.
The Parish Council seeks the views of users of the bridleway before making a formal response to the the County Council in respect of the proposed diversion. This response has to be with the County Council by February 28th and so your views are required as soon as possible before this date.
The co-ordination of responses is being undertaken via the village website and so you are asked to submit your views by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to ring Colin Wootton on 01295 760072.
See here for letter from Northamptonshire County Council in which can be seen details of telephone numbers, email and other addresses, should you wish to submit your own observations.
Chairman, Sulgrave Parish Council