Help us improve our network of trails for walking, biking and horseback riding

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Residents, landowners and visitors to Dorset are invited to give their views and ideas to help shape Dorset’s next rights-of-way improvement plan.

The Dorset Right-of-Way Improvement Plan is the primary vehicle for Dorset Council, as the local road authority, to identify and prioritize actions to develop and improve the network of footpaths, bridleways, side roads and lanes wider Dorset accesses.

Over the past 18 months, more Dorset residents than ever have found getting out and taking in the fresh air to be heartwarming, restorative and revitalizing. To accomplish this, many have used Dorset’s public rights of way, footpaths, bridle paths and back roads for walking, cycling, off-roading and carriage rides to explore our locality. Some may have discovered paths and places they had never visited before, immersing themselves in the breathtaking landscapes, rich heritage and fascinating natural world of Dorset.

The Dorset Right-of-Way Improvement Plan consultation – which includes online maps – will help us understand the key issues that need to be addressed and allow people to submit location specific concerns and project ideas to help us improve Dorset’s public rights of way.

The investigation will allow respondents to: –

  • Highlight a “missing link” where a new path would join the network.
  • Identify a strategic route connecting communities that could be shared by walkers, riders and cyclists
  • Explore the possibility of creating a safe off-road route where walkers, riders and cyclists must currently use the road
  • Identify the right places to improve the surface of a path, replace studs with doors, and generally indicate where small measures can potentially have a big impact
  • Suggest areas where better signage would be useful
  • Raise concerns and how they might be addressed
  • Reveal historical details such as old studs and river crossings that need to be protected
  • Let us know how we might work together on ideas and initiatives.

While we may not be able to fit all ideas and projects into priority delivery plans, all feedback will be taken into consideration.

Councilor Noc Lacey-Clarke, Senior Cabinet Member for Environment, Travel and Ports at Dorset Council, said:

“The use of public rights of way – the green highways – allows people to get out and truly explore the villages, towns and countryside of Dorset.

The benefits are enormous when an improved trail system can provide car-free walking and cycling routes for all ages and abilities at a “community pace” for local travel; go out, meet and socialize with the local population; opportunities to get out of your home and stay active, relax and unwind; a way to take the time to explore and notice the details that we often overlook. Our trails help us all discover Dorset’s rich and varied natural and historical heritage.

Participate in this investigation is a real opportunity for the people of Dorset to let us know what they think works and what needs to be done to improve the way our residents and visitors can enjoy walking, cycling and horse riding while making sure to protect the very landscapes that these paths take them through. “

After collating and reviewing comments from consultation, Dorset Council officials will draft a new Rights of way improvement plan early next year. This plan will be publicly consulted in the spring, and the final version will be released and presented to Cabinet for approval in the summer of 2022.

Please complete the questionnaire and maps online here before midnight on October 31.


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