Residents in Highbridge are unhappy at the ‘shocking’ state of a public footpath which they believe is being left to deteriorate in a “dangerous condition” to help developers build their case for a huge new housing development.
Denzil Clarke is leading a new group of residents called the ‘Lakeside Residents Public Open Space Committee’ to put pressure on local councils to increase safety along the footpath that runs from Springfield Road across a public open field to Bennett Road. It comes after developers unveiled plans to build 130 new homes on the field.
Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, he says: “The state of this public footpath is shocking, with thick mud and overgrown vegetation and hidden footpath signs. It has been deteriorating for some time now.”
“The public right of way leads up to the railway crossing next to Springfield Road, where both the gates have been without latches for some time – it is really dangerous and children or animals could run through onto the tracks.”
“The path itself is often a muddy quagmire, but when I’ve complained to the council they have said it’s part of a reed bed and therefore doesn’t have to be fully maintained even though we haven’t seen reeds here for years.”
“At the eastern end of the path, the steps from Bennett Road down onto the path are often covered in sloping mud. I slipped and fell there recently. It’s annoying when that area was reported to the council back in 2015.”
“We feel the development funding that was secured for public use in Highbridge following the Asda store’s development should be used to help improve access to local public rights of way such as this one.”
“It’s a very neglected public path and field considering they’re so well used by locals as a route between Springfield Road and Bennett Road. This area’s especially popular with dog walkers.”
“Sedgemoor and the County Council have made no attempt to make it fully accessible – we believe they would prefer to make money from the sale of the land for development – or are we just being cynical?”
“We are all strongly against the development of the field, not because it’s new houses, but because the site would create so much more traffic through the Lakeside access road. It’s dangerous already and another 130+ vehicles would be a real concern.”
He added: “We have formed the Lakeside residents public open space committee to represent the views of the 35 residents here – the vast majority of whom are against the development plans.”
A spokesman for Somerset County Council told Burnham-On-Sea.com this week: “We cut back vegetation on the footpath twice a year in May and August, so the footpath has recently been strimmed.”
“As and when development impacts on a public right of way, we seek to achieve the best outcome for the right of way and those that use it, and are more than happy to work with Sedgemoor District Council and any funding they may have available for footpath improvements.”
“The issue with the gates at the level crossing has been reported to Network Rail for their attention.”