Public Right of Way applications, grants, and funding.
We are delighted to announced that our work to collect pathway user evidence forms is drawing to an end, and we will soon be submitting the Public Rights of Way application to Birmingham City Council.
In April 2021 we began the long process of calling on pathway users to evidence they had walked the
6 pathways around Bartley Reservoir. Collecting evidence that each pathway had been used, unhindered, for over 20 years was the aim, and we have definitely smashed that, evidencing some have been used by the public for over 50 years!
We did the evidence collecting in 3 stages due to the lack of resources to manage an large influx in interest all at once. The first stage was to collect photo evidence, including google earth evidence, of the pathways. Notices were also put at the entrances of every pathway we wished to make an application for, and people contacted us accordingly.. We also spent a mornings sitting out on the pathways speaking with walkers and getting them to fill in evidence forms there and then. Stage two was to flyer the houses surrounding the reservoir including the Kitwell Estate, Ley Hill, and Nutbush Estate, Lastly, stage three was a social media campaign that we will soon be drawing to a close.
This was a long, and sustained campaign, and the committee are grateful to Paul Duguay and Julia Bedford for walking the pathways in various fields to take pictures through the seasons at the start of this campaign. Also to Portland Jones and Heather Painter for sitting out on the pathways near Ley Hill and speaking with residents to get them to complete pathway evidence forms. We have 62 pathway users who have provided evidence - often for more than one pathway leading to around 30 pieces of evidence for each pathway - which is very good!!
Over the last 6 months we met with Severn Trent to discuss these applications and they made a request that we do not make the application for the two pathways running from Scotland lane/Frankley Lane Junction to the back of St Leonard's Church, due to concerns about the critical infrastructure nearby ('the cage') showing up on public maps if the Public Right of Way were recorded.
In return for this concession, they would facilitate public access for local people by installing an entrance (which they have done) showing they permit public access to their land, and would allow us to put up way markers and signs guiding people to follow the pathway around to the church. as a safe off-road alternative. They also advised that in turn they would not challenge the applications for the other four Public Rights of Ways. A win-win situation and so we will be submitting four, instead of six applications. However, we will keep the evidence for the other two.
in the next month we will be doing our final social media requests for pathway users to come forward, and another morning event sitting on the pathways and then we will submit the applications. This should take a year to be processed and for a decision to be made. Given the landowners will not appeal, and we have a lot of pathway user evidence forms charting use over the last 50 years, the outcome looks promising. A massive well done to everyone involved!
We are also very pleased to report that we secured match funding for new design proposals for the Picnic Area.
Some of you may recall that we were initially seeking to raise enough money to update a 'whole reservoir' design proposal from 2009, and raised £1,500 towards this. However, the fee kept going up and it seemed reaching the goal was to be impossible. After an unsuccessful grant application for the other £3,500 needed, the committee met to have a rethink. We decided to focus on specific areas of the reservoir starting with upgrading the picnic area.
You might not know, but to even put in a gate/entrance to the picnic area needs a design proposal from the council's own Landscape Practice Group, before any work can be done, and so it was decided to use the £1,500 to pay for a new design proposal for the whole picnic area. We would then use the design proposal, which would include costings, to apply for grants to turn the designs into reality.
We had some further luck, when we pitched to the Parks Team to match fund the plans as this would pave the way for a new formulae for improving and adding to Park land, where currently they can only afford to maintain parks. The idea being they would get a design proposal worth twice what they paid, and a new Picnic Area for free. Park agreed and we are each putting £750.00 towards the design proposals which should be ready by August.. This leaves £750.00 for another project should this one go well.
It will be a simple upgrade, as there is no money for increased maintenance to the area, meaning that any additional benches or infrastructure like the entrance, will need to be funded by us if it gets broken, or it'll likely get stored away until we can raise the money to get it repaired/replaced and reinstalled. This is one of the reasons we are working hard on our fundraising strategy, to get a surplus of £2000.00 for emergency maintenance costs that are likely to arise over time.