Nick Walmsley, Programme Manager, National Trust Headquarters came to the MB Swindon 2016 AGM to provide an overview of the proposed developments at Badbury Hill and answer any questions the members had.
Also present was Mark Adams, South Regional Development Manager, British Cycling.
Overview of site and project
- The site has been owned by the National Trust since 1956
- It has been leased to the Forestry Commission until 2012
- The Hill Fort and the car park have always been managed by the National Trust
- The woods have a significant bluebell population which draw in numerous visitors during their growing season
- The site has been used by walkers and mountain bikers alike for quite some time
- Until the National Trust took back the running of the site, they were not aware of how heavily used the site was by the mountain biking community
- As part of the pre-work users of the site were surveyed. The improvements requested were:
- car parking
- dog poo bins
- manage different user interactions
- The aims are to improve access to the site and encourage people to spend time outdoors; manage the interaction between walkers and cyclists to improve safety; protect the ancient hill fort and improve the wildlife habitat.
Proposed cycling provision
There is recognition of the existing black / downhill runs that have been managed by the mountain biking community. The proposal is to leave the region to the south of the fire road to be maintained by the community builders. As part of the development, a new staff post will be created to to work with site users and it is hoped that this will help build the relationship between the local builders and the National Trust managed trails.
The aim of the new development is to cater for bike owners (who don’t see themselves as cyclists), to encourage them to cycle more. This will be achieved by creating traffic-free routes of a similar nature to those at Haldon Forest. It is not trying to become a trail centre, more of a local site where you can practice different skills. There will be a family trail (green route) around the perimeter of the site, a blue graded trail which will use the wooded slopes on half of the hill with the possibility of some red options. These trails will be segregated from the footpaths.
British Cycling have an interest in the site and are working closely with the National Trust on the plans. It is seen as a good site to help develop the coaching offerings in the area and could be used for some competitions.
Proposals were submitted for planning permission in November 2015, with consultations held of the proposals. After these consultations and some additional feedback revised plans will be submitted in April 2016.
It is hoped that the development will begin construction in Autumn / Winter 2016
Q – What improvements will be made to the car park?
A – The existing car park area will be redefined and resurfaced, this will increase the available parking by 50% to accommodate approximately 100 cars and move the cars away from the edge of the ancient hill fort.
Q – With these improvements will the car parking charges be increased?
A – Yes a charges will be introduced at the car park. The National Trust is a charity which works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces – for ever, for everyone. All monies taken at the site will be reinvested back into the management of the site.
Q – How will the car parking be managed for the big scale events?
A – The fields adjacent to the site have been used for larger event car parking in the past and there is an agreement with the tenant farmer for this to continue.
Q – Has there been any consultation with the existing trail builders?
A – Not a lot of communication has been made, the Badbury Hill ground staff are not aware of who they are to engage in the conversation. Happy to engage, but need to know who they are and this is part of the reason for presenting to you this evening.
Q – Within the tress on the site there are some unofficial routes, would they be frowned upon after the development of the site?
A – The skills section (existing downhill runs) would be free for the community to design and build. Any other routes on the site would have to be part of the way-marked routes and users would be expected to stick to these.
To keep up to date with the plans and to find contact details for the site staff visit the Badbury Hill website.