We were pleased to be able to show you the progress the parish council is making with our principal project – Rhead’s Meadows Nature Park. You were able to walk the footpaths we have built though the 9 acres of former farmland and see the areas in which we hope to deliver wildflower meadows, long grass meadows, shrub and small tree borders and woodland through which a walk will be provided.
We explained that the land to the north of the site will be developed for 200 houses in the near future, it already has outline planning and the full planning application is currently under consideration. When that comes to fruition there will be direct communication between the northern end of Blackfirs Lane/Chelford Road and the Holmes Chapel Road via that estate and Rhead’s Meadows. There will also be a shared use cycle/pedestrian/equestrian route through that estate to Rhead’s Lane, that is the tarmacked track we walked which runs adjacent to the Meadows, through to Blackfirs Lane and the Holmes Chapel Road. This will provide a safe and easy access to Congleton High School, Blackfirs Primary School and The Quinta Primary School as well as to the West Heath Shopping Centre. However, it is likely to be 2 – 3 years before that route can become usable.
In the meantime, the parish council would like to improve the connectivity, initially for leisure walkers but ultimately for all non-motorised traffic users, from the residential developments currently under construction along Back Lane, through the Back Lane Village Green / Playing Fields and on to Rhead’s Meadows and beyond. As you saw, there is already a direct access route but this presents a number of obstacles for fit and healthy users and which form an effective barrier for the less agile. These obstacles include: a non-compliant barrier consisting of two off-set steel U-shaped barriers; a very narrow overgrown footpath with an uneven soil surface which becomes deep mud in wet conditions; a very old, unruly hawthorn hedge and a very aggressive and dilapidated barbed-wire fence. We would like to see this connection, which joins the parish of Somerford with the Town of Congleton, improved by removal of the barriers, the taming of the hedge, replacement of the fence with something more suitable for public use and levelling/re-surfacing of the footpath. In time, it might even be possible to create a surfaced track from this point along the edge of the playing fields to allow access by wheelchairs, prams and other physically challenged users.