Volunteers have begun working to improve a footpath which runs through a beauty spot between Bexhill and Hastings. The work will see resurfacing of the path, which borders the Combe Valley Countryside Park, improvement to steps and a new ramp installed to make it more accessible. It will also see remedial work on the bridges the route passes over, drainage improvements and the installation of new benches and picnic tables to allow people to enjoy the countryside views.
Ownership of the path, which follows the route of the former Bexhill to Crowhurst railway line, is in the process of being transferred from Rother District Council to the Combe Valley Countryside Park Community Interest Company (CIC). The company and the managing agent for the park, environmental charity Groundwork South, have teamed up with civil engineering company McNicholas, which is providing volunteers, equipment and specialist support for the project.
Angharad Davies, Chair for Combe Valley Countryside Park CIC, said: “This is a really exciting scheme which shows our commitment to enhancing and improving this much-loved route and opening up access to the countryside park.
“We’re very grateful to McNicholas for providing us with volunteers and expertise to allow us to improve accessibility to the path and to open up some of the stunning views visitors to it can enjoy.”
“It is a privilege to be a part of this development project” said Paul Medcraft, McNicholas Project Manager. “We are working in the local area for Network Rail on their CP5 project delivering track and lineside improvements and, having previously worked with Groundwork on a project to recover abandoned bikes for their Changing Gears programme, this was a great opportunity to take the relationship further. Network Rail along with our approved supply chain have kindly provided volunteers and material to assist with the improvements. Community engagement forms an important part of our approach to being a sustainable company.”
McNicholas CEO, Barry McNicholas, said “McNicholas are proud to be working alongside Groundwork on both these projects. The areas in which we work are first and foremost communities, so it’s important we recognise this and identify what support we can offer.”
The path is a gateway to the countryside park, which occupies a 2.5 square mile site, including a two-mile stretch of coastline at Bulverhythe, and boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna.
In September 2016, Rother District Council’s cabinet agreed to transfer ownership of the path, which runs close to the north east Bexhill development site earmarked for new housing and employment space, to the CIC and is in the process of completing this arrangement.
Cllr Ian Jenkins, district council cabinet member for young people, sport and leisure, said: “Transferring ownership of the land to the community organisation which is already doing such a great job of managing the countryside park will ensure it is protected for generations to come.
“The work currently being carried out will enhance the footpath so it can be enjoyed by current users and future residents and employees of the new homes and businesses which will come to north east Bexhill.”
Work began on the site at the beginning of June and is expected to take several months to complete. All paths will remain open during the project but visitors are asked to take extra care while work is ongoing.
For more information about Groundwork please visit https://www.groundwork.org.uk/ and to find out about how works are progressing are Combe Valley Countryside Park, visit http://combevalleycountrysidepark.com/