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Beechwood Way

Beechwood Way Boardwalk removal, Dibden Purlieu

What's the idea?

The boardwalk off Beechwood Way is reaching the end of its maintainable lifespan.
This connects between the Roman Road footpath and Beechwood Way marked as A and B on the plan

The wooden boardwalks have been deteriorating for some time, it is not suitable for cyclists or pushchairs and slippery during winter. The Boardwalk passes through a site of ecological interest known as a Site of Nature Conservation (SINC). Therefore a proposal to build a boardwalk through this site now would not be supported.

What is the timetable?

  • Stage 1 - Seeking resident comments.  We sought comments on the proposals between the end of May and early June 2022. 
  • Stage 2 - Improving the existing muddy path marked at points C and D on the plan is a desire line. The footpath construction will be suitable to pass over tree roots to ensure the path does not affect the trees. The invasive rhododendron will be cut back for path safety.  Following an ecological survey this was carried out week commencing 1 August 2022.

Following reports an inspection of the boardwalk identified that the boardwalk was no longer safe, therefore the boardwalk was fenced off from use in the interests of public safety.

  • Stage 3 - We will carefully remove the rotten boardwalk between A to B to ensure as little damage to the ecology site as practical.  An Ecologist will undertake an inspection of the work area prior to work. Our contractor intends to reuse some of the wood to produce two planters at either end of the path. 
  • Stage 4 - Non-native species will be removed from the SINC area to help this recover and the wetland ecology site will be monitored with the intention towards improving its ecology value.

The project is being funded by the original housing developer and the area will continue to be maintained in future by Hythe & Dibden Parish Council.

We will have temporary barriers on-site to direct members of the public away from the work-sites as we progress through the work stages listed above.


What comments did we receive?

In total we received 25 comments, 24 people who used the walk as pedestrians, 3 as cyclists, 3 as wheelchair/pushchair users and 1 other user.

More than half of users responded that they had found the boardwalk slippery. 4 found the vegetation an issue and 3 users had felt unsafe or at risk.  A summary of the other comments received and a response is below

Comments Raised

NFDC Response

Suggestion to install a bridge instead of a boardwalk.

This would result in significant removal of vegetation, damaging an ecologically protected area.  It is also like to be cost prohibitive.

Suggestion for alternative route near to the existing boardwalk

The SINC ecological designation area extends from the school boundary to the edge of public open space, so alternatives would result in a loss of vegetation and damage to a protected habitat.

The alternative route proposed (C-D) is the next shortest achievable route which does not affect the SINC.

Suggestion the replacement path is not suitable in winter or elderly.

The diversion route will be cambered to allow surface water to drain and hinder formation of icy patches, providing a non-slip level surface. This is anticipated to be more suitable than the current wooden structure.

Suggestion to use chicken wire to repair.

Suggestion to repair boardwalk.

As the sub-structure of the boardwalk is failing in multiple places a long term solution is required by the Parish Council.  Even extensive repairs would not address further rotting occurring.

Safe route to local supermarket.

The short diversion will continue to provide a safe route to the supermarket, some residents (such as in Alder, Milne, Redwood Close, Oakenbrow or other roads off Challenger Way) may find the route north of Applemore College a convenient alternative.

Concern over adjacent tree

The concerns have been passed to the Parish Council as this outside the scope of this project.

Requirement to fence the school grounds or make an access point.

This falls within the responsibility of School / local education authority (Hampshire County Council - HCC) when and where to secure or facilitate access to their grounds.

Suggestion that boardwalk had not been maintained

The boardwalk has reached the end of its serviceable life. The responsibility for maintenance is between the original developer and Parish Council, cyclic repairs have occurred to this boardwalk.

Suitability of diversion route / Disruption to neighbours

The diversion route from the ends of the closure has been surveyed and is less than 440m length.  Typically residents starting from their dwelling will have a shorter diversion distance than this.

The diversion route (C-D) utilises an existing desire line/path formed by walkers, this has a sufficient vegetation buffer to separate it from dwellings which will remain.

People cutting through SINC after boardwalk closed

The proposal includes planters at either end of the truncated path to deter access. The area is a wetland during wetter periods, and the ground may become impassable quickly deterring such informal access.

Safety of path users exiting onto the Roman Road.

Officers will look at rhododendron clearance to improve visibility splay where this is required.

The boardwalk exits onto the Roman road at the bottom of the slope.  At this location northbound/downhill cyclists may be travelling fastest and those from the other direction (southbound) will have a gently falling or level approach. The alternative route exits slightly further up, mitigating both factors.

HCC are the maintainer of this stretch as they are the highways authority and any further concerns should be passed to them.

Suggestion to continue using the boardwalk as a route and for education

The SINC has been confirmed to be in a declining condition, removal of the boardwalk will reduce human impacts and is anticipated will lead to improvement in SINC quality.

Other education opportunities are available locally, including the pond dipping area off Oaklands Way which can be used for interpretation and education.

Questioning the need for a socially distanced path

The existing boardwalk is narrow and not suited for pushchair and wheelchair traffic. The narrow width and curved route leads to potential risks to personal safety of users, as highlighted by a number of respondents.

Replacement arrangements

The original developer, Ward and Parish Council were involved with discussions, are aware of and support the proposal.

The short period of works will be undertaken in consultation with our Ecologist. The short period of disruption will result in an extended period of little human disturbance to allow the ecology to recover and thrive.


Further Information

This page will be kept up to date with progress on the works alternatively please contact us via email


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