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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Footpath saga nearing conclusion?

Proposed Path 2003

Since 2003 I have written many short descriptions of a footpath along the first 2 ½ miles of the disused Castle Douglas to Kirkcudbright railway in support of funding applications. I hope this will be the last. When first discussed with my brothers Ian and Kenneth, our idea was to create an ‘all abilities’ path which could be used by families with children in pushchairs, young people and adults with wheelchairs or mobility scooters and people with limited mobility.

Fifteen years on and that initial vision is almost within sight.

Part funding to remove the last 3 (ideally 4) remaining obstacles to access for all abilities along the path has been secured from the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership. The remaining funding can potentially be secured as part of a Dumfries and Galloway Council funding application to Scottish Natural Heritage and from a local charity.

But… to achieve this I need to ask community groups representing families with children in pushchairs and people with limited mobility to write to the Council’s Countryside Development Officer in support of the proposal. The letters can then be used to support the Council’s funding bid, demonstrating that there is community support for  making the path fully accessible and that it will be used by families with children in pushchairs and people with limited mobility.

From past experience, I know that ‘community support’ is judged not by the number of individual members of the community who support a proposal but by the number of community groups and organisations who do so.

My plan is to convert the next part of this post into a PDF when then can be attached to e-mails to relevant community groups and organisations so the e-mails can be kept shorter.

For the long version of this saga see http://greengalloway.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/the-railway-footpath-very-lengthy-saga.html

Maximising  Access to the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Castle Douglas Area. 680 words

1.Background 2003-2018

1.1 In 2003, the Castle Douglas Community Initiative adopted a proposal to use a 1 ½ mile long section of disused railway to provide a traffic-free route to Threave Castle (managed by HES) and NTS Threave estate nature reserve from Castle Douglas.
Public consultation demonstrated wide spread support from 350 individual members of the community as well as community groups and organisations.

1.2 The 2003 plan was to create an ‘Access for All’ route, suitable for families with young children and people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users. Dumfries and Galloway Council Access Officer Gilbert Clark produced an estimated cost for the works of £100 000 to be spread over two years. This was an ambitious target for the Community Initiative to raise since the funding required for previous projects had not exceeded £5000. However, by 28  November 2005, funding of £34 860  had been secured.

1.3 In 2006, Scottish Water began work on a pipeline along part of the proposed route of the path. By taking advantage of the pipeline works, the funding which had been secured was used to create a basic path from Blackpark Road on the edge of Castle Douglas to an existing footpath on NTS Threave Estate. This section was opened in August 2006.

1.4 In 2012 the full route of the 2003 proposal became part of Dumfries and Galloway’s Core Path network as Core Path 155.
In 2013 a fully accessible section of path was constructed between Abercromby Road and Blackpark Road.

1.5 Following flood damage in 2015, in 2016 a section of the 2006 route was restored and upgraded between the Carlingwark Lane canal and the NTS Threave Estate path network. This included replacing a footbridge which had been swept away in the flood. The new bridge was constructed at a higher level to prevent future flood damage.

2.Obstacles to full access to be overcome -April 2018

2.1 At Blackpark Road a metal swing gate is an obstacle for pushchairs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles. This gate must be replaced with a two-way self-closing gate. All the other gates on CP155 are of this design.

2.2 Between Blackpark Road and the Carlingwark Lane canal there is a 250m section of  the path which is unsurfaced. It is uneven and very muddy when wet. This section is an obstacle for pushchairs, mobility scooters, wheelchairs and less able walkers. It must be surfaced.

2.3  The tarred access road to Kelton Mains for Threave Castle and Estate cross CP 155 on a bridge. Steps and an unsurfaced path connect CP155 with the access road. These must be replaced with appropriate ramped access and surfaced path.

3. Funding for removing obstacles

3.1 The Castle Douglas Development Forum have secured funding from Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership for up to 40% of the cost of footpath projects in the Castle Douglas area. Removing the obstacles to full access along CP 155 is one of the projects included.

3.2 Dumfries and Galloway Council will be submitting a bid in May to Scottish Natural Heritage’s Improving Public Access fund. If sufficient support can be demonstrated, removing obstacles 2.1 and 2.2 above on CP 155 could be part of the funding bid. Restoring path surfaces and other maintenance works would also be included.

3.3 Replacing the steps at Kelton Mains bridge with a ramp and surfaced path would be funded from the Galloway Glens contribution and/or another local funding source which has recently been identified.

4. Alternative route at Blackpark Road bridge.

4.1 The 2003 proposal avoided having to ascend and descend the (filled in) Blackpark Road bridge by skirting the edge of  the Castle Douglas Golf Course Extension.

4.2 The golf course extension is on the former Castle Douglas Burgh refuse tip. The extension has not been used due to concerns over contamination.

4.3 A 140m section of new path could be constructed to avoid the filled in bridge and the contaminated area formerly used as a rubbish tip. See plan below, based on 1964 OS map.

This is the letter I will be sending to community groups and organisations.

Unfortunately,  letters/ e-mails from individuals do not carry the same weight as support from community groups and organisations, but if  you would like to see the path improved, especially if you can’t use it easily at present, please let Karen Morley know.

Dear ……

Since 2003 I have been involved in a project to create a fully accessible path from Castle Douglas to NTS Threave Estate and Threave Castle. Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, when the path was first made in 2006 it was only suitable for able bodied walkers.

In 2013 and 2016 sections of what is now Core Path 155 were upgraded to a higher standard but some short sections remain  as obstacles for people with limited mobility and families with children in pushchairs.

Castle Douglas Development Forum have been awarded part funding to overcome the obstacles from the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership. Further funding is potentially available from the Improving Public Access fund. This would be secured via Dumfries and Galloway Council.

However, Karen Morley of Dumfries and Galloway Council needs to  show that there is support for the funding bid from people with limited mobility and families with young children who would use the path if it was accessible, especially from groups representing the needs of  members of the community who cannot use the path at present.

I therefore hope that you can write to

Karen Morley
Countryside Development Officer
Militia House
English Street

Or e-mail her at karen.morley@dumgal.gov.uk

in support of the  footpath funding  bid so she can include your letter of support in the Improving Public Access funding application.

Yours sincerely etc

For background and details  please see  attachment  (which will be based on this blog post)


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