New River cycle lane gets go-ahead despite privacy and noise concerns

Neighbours fear new waterside route through Enfield Town and Bullsmoor will be used by mopeds and scooters, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The New River and (inset) plans to install a cycle track
The New River and (inset) plans to install a cycle track

Plans to create a cycle track along the New River have been approved despite neighbours’ fears over privacy and noise.

Enfield Council’s planning committee gave the green light for the shared footpath and cycle lane to run between Tenniswood Road and Bullsmoor Lane after extra measures were agreed to protect neighbouring houses.

The 2.5km section of self-binding gravel track will form part of the new Enfield to Broxbourne cycle and pedestrian route – a £4million scheme that will begin at St Andrew’s Road in Enfield Town and end at the bridge over the M25.

Broxbourne Council is already installing its own New River route from the M25 further north, to Wormley.

Seating, lighting, information posts, bollards, cycle stands and rain gardens will be provided as part of the Enfield Council-led project, along with a new bridge over Turkey Brook.

Plans to allow public access to this section of the New River sparked concerns from neighbours that people would be able to see into their gardens and homes. In April this year, councillors deferred making a decision on the scheme to consider ways of addressing their concerns and the possibility of re-routing the path along Ladysmith Road.

When revised proposals were presented to the planning committee on Tuesday (19th), officers said that more evergreen hedge and tree planting would be introduced to screen the gardens and properties of people living in Sinclare Close and Tenniswood Road.

The committee was shown images of how the hedges would look after five years of growth, but officers said that level of growth could be achieved between two and three years and would provide “considerable protection of privacy”.

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Despite the promise of extra planting, Paul Hammond, who lives in Ladysmith Road, told the committee that the scheme would be an “absolute invasion of the privacy that I currently enjoy in my property at the moment”.

He said there was a “clear view” from the proposed path “right through my house”, and neighbours would have to endure years of people looking into their homes and gardens.

Paul said the scheme would also cause “noise pollution”, particularly from mopeds which could cut down the path, plus increased antisocial behaviour and light pollution.

Sarah Whitehouse, the cycling route’s project manager, and David Hilliard, a cycling instructor and member of Enfield Cycle Campaign, spoke in favour of the plans.

Sarah said there would be “significant public benefits” from using the New River route rather than an alternative, and the privacy concerns had been “effectively mitigated” by extra planting and the removal of benches.

David said the proposal was a “brilliant scheme” and pointed out it would be one of the few “pleasant” leisure routes crossing the M25. He added that it would encourage “novice and nervous cyclists” who do not like to use roads, and would be particularly suited to women and children.

Conservative committee members raised concerns over the plans. Lee Chamberlain said there would still be a loss of privacy and suggested alternative options had not been considered. His colleague Jim Steven echoed these concerns and claimed that scooters would use the route, which will be open to the public 24 hours a day.

In response, planning officer Karolina Grebowiec-Hall said the council had looked at the pros and cons of using the New River route compared with Ladysmith Road. She explained that the land along the New River had been designated for walking and cycling under local policies, while an alternative route on Ladysmith Road would be less accessible.

Officers said scooters would not be permitted to use the path by law, and CCTV cameras would be used as a deterrent. They added that conditions would be attached to the application to ensure the cameras did not invade neighbours’ privacy.

All eight Labour members voted to approve the plans, with Conservative Peter Fallart abstaining and the remaining three Tory members voting against.

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