Our support for local communities' countryside access projects | Oxfordshire County Council

Our support for local communities' countryside access projects

What we do to help local communities improve access to their local countryside.

Working on right of way

Local people and the county council improving access

A good network of rights of way and open space and a landscape rich in wildlife improves physical and mental health and supports the local economy through tourism and leisure spending. They also form an important part of an environmentally sustainable transport system, where paths are used for journeys to school, work, shops and local facilities.

Local people have a real potential to make a difference to countryside access and the natural environment and we are actively working to encourage this approach. Many parish and town councils and meetings already do fantastic work on their public rights of way and the Countryside Access Team is very grateful for this  - as are the countless local residents and visiting walkers, cyclists and equestrians who use the Oxfordshire countryside.

The aim of our work with communities is to provide information and support to enable local people to carry out countryside access improvements and add value to our core work to define protect and maintain public rights of way.

See these examples of schemes that local communities and organisations have undertaken to improve access for walkers, cyclists and horseriders in their areas.  Why don't you think about how you could improve access? Funding is available from the Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment and our officers will be happy to help you take forward your ideas.

Our guidance for local communities wanting to improve their countryside

In 2010 we published a guide for parish and town councils (pdf format, 2MB) that gives parish councils, user groups, community groups and other interested people all the information they need to get more involved with improving public paths locally. The 80-page Countryside Access Guide is intended to help people understand the background to access,  identify issues and opportunities and use their unique local knowledge and contacts to improve countryside access for people in their area.  Please have a read of this.

Countryside Access Team (CAT) information notes about paths and the planning process and vegetation management. The CAT has produced three simple guidance notes that sets out how officers get involved in these major areas of work. Contact details are provided for each note in case you have any follow up queries. For planning related work the Oxfordshire Countryside Access Forum has encouraged local councils and communities to get involved with potential development sites. OCAF's letter to councils is also attached here.

Other access volunteers

The Countryside Service regularly works with teams from voluntary organisations such as the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens and the Chilterns Society South Chilterns Path Maintenance Volunteers (SCPMVs) to give them the information they need carry out improvements to the public rights of way network.

Maintaining The Ridgeway and Thames Path

A host of volunteers are working to manage the National Trails that cross the county, performing a vital role in helping to maintain the very popular Ridgeway and Thames Path.  Their ongoing volunteer programme of maintenance and improvement includes vegetation clearance, installing and repairing signs, gates and information boards and other access improvements. Volunteers also carry out important monitoring and surveying work.

Volunteer tasks are carried out on most weekdays and regular weekends and are led by staff from the National Trails. All tools and training are provided.  Volunteers gain work experience and training in surveying, public rights of way legislation and responsibilities, practical countryside skills, habitat management and health and safety.  For more information about volunteering with this team please contact National Trails on 01865 810224 or email nationaltrails@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Last reviewed
15 August 2017
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