Path to Poohsticks bridge in Ashdown Forest is saved

A WORLD-FAMOUS footpath has been reprieved now a contentious planning application has been withdrawn.

Britain’s oldest national conservation body, The Open Spaces Society together with Sussex Ramblers and other organisations are relieved that a development which threatened the footpath leading to the famous Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest is to be removed.

Mr and Mrs Ben Van Praagh of Faircote Hall and stud at Hartfield on the Ashdown Forest had been given retrospective planning permission for a new riding arena which crossed the public footpath leading to the bridge.

The consent, opposed by organisations and individuals, included a requirement for the path to be lawfully diverted within two years. Now the Van Praaghs have applied for permission for a smaller arena which does not cross the path. 

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society said: “We are pleasedthe new planning application is smaller and will ensure the path is kept open on its current, historic, route.  With the Ramblers and others we have said that the path must be kept open and unobstructed to its full width at all times, except for any strictly-temporary closure during construction.  We have also specifiedthere must be appropriate landscaping and screening, the impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty must be minimised, there should be no lighting nor public-address system, and the old arena must be completely removed before the new one is constructed.

“This is an attractive part of the country and it should be saved from suburbanisation.  And above all, we want to see the popular ‘Poohsticks Path’ used and enjoyed by walkers in its lovely setting.”