Hayling Island section

Following many years of campaigning by local councils and stakeholders, and having carried out a variety of feasibility studies into various options, we are pleased to announce that Active Travel England has awarded Hampshire County Council £600,000 of funding through the Active Travel Fund (round 4) to upgrade the northern section of the Hayling Billy Trail (from the car park opposite the ‘Applegreen’ garage, southwards to the car park on the shore behind the ‘Esso’ garage). This 1.2km section will be resurfaced so that it can become a truly all-weather, all-year route to give walkers, scooters, cyclists and mobility impaired users a more attractive and safer off-road route. It is expected that the scheme will be on site later in 2024. This page will be used as the project ‘home page’ so keep coming back regularly for updates and news.

Separately, covering the remainder of the Trail and the route onward to the beach, by the end of 2023 we will have completed a detailed feasibility study, looking at the engineering options for making the Trail a viable part of the Island’s active travel infrastructure. The Council is investing £50,000 of CIL funding towards this, together with another £50,000 from the County Council.

Updates from the team

Newsletters are being put together to keep you updated on the project and how it is progressing:

Updates will be provided on this page as they happen.

Engagement events

Thank you to all who attended the engagement events on 15 and 22 November. The comments and observations you made are now being fed back to the design team and included within the Design Reports submitted to the funding clients. Most of the comments made are addressed in the FAQs below and we have added a few at the end of this page for those newly raised.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Where is the money coming from?

£600,000 from Active Travel England (Active Travel Fund round 4 – ‘ATF4’), £50,000 Hampshire County Council NCN2 study, £50,000 Havant Borough Council Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

2) When does the money have to be spent?

The £600,000 of ATF4 funding has to be committed for implementation by 31st March 2024. This was successfully achieved with the Project Appraisal being approved on 15th January. The remaining funds are to produce a feasibility design for the rest of the Trail, and the design and report has to be delivered by spring 2024. We have spent some of the CIL funding upgrading the footpath link across the Sinah Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) between the south end of Staunton Avenue and the beach – see FAQs 16-22 below for more information.

3) When will you be on site?

The ATF4 section, 1.2km between the ‘Applegreen’ garage car park and the Victoria Road car park (rear of ‘Esso’ on Havant Road) is intended to be on site later in 2024. Project Approval was given by Hampshire County Council at their meeting on 15th January, the papers for the meeting are available online (see meeting item 9). The section at the south end across the Beachlands SSSI between Sea Front at the south end of Staunton Avenue and the track running along the beach east of Inn on the Beach, has been completed in January 2024, providing a new accessible link to the beach (see FAQs 16-22 below for more information). There are no dates for the remainder of the Trail yet.

4) The north end of the Trail covered by the ATF4 money is the best section. Why start there and not on worse sections further south?

The ATF4 funding is on the basis that the money has to be committed by 31st March 2024. The northern section, being in better condition and having had work carried out previously, is better understood than other sections further south, and there was too much risk to commit to the southern sections being designed in time to meet the government ‘s deadline – the money would have been lost and no improvements at all made.

5) Why are you carrying out survey work in Staunton Avenue?

Staunton Avenue is part of NCN2 (the National Cycle Network route along the south coast, linking Kent and Cornwall) and so is part of the route funded by the feasibility design work commissioned from Hampshire County Council. It is a straight, fast road which is not conducive to fostering a safe environment for vulnerable road users. Part of the commission is therefore to develop designs for how the road might be changed to accommodate active travel, and for this we need accurate surveys of the road and traffic using it. There is no funding yet to do any physical works, and because it is a highway scheme any measures will need to comply with the latest design standards. Public consultation would be carried out if and when funding is available, but at this stage we are just developing deliverable options – one of which is ‘do nothing’.

6) What will the Trail look like when completed?

The design we have produced has now been submitted to the County Council for approval, and consists of an all-weather, asphalt-based surface. The surface will be no narrower than it is at present, and in most places wider. The finished Trail is intended to look similar to the section of the Trail on the mainland. This is an asphalt base with a surface dressing of New Milton washed gravel which oftens the colour whilst providing a good sealed surface.

7) When will the remaining sections of the Trail be upgraded?

The short and honest answer is – we don’t know. The ATF4 design and implementation is intended to be a proof of concept for all future phases of the Trail, but funding for this may come from a variety of sources – future government grants (other rounds of ATF perhaps), Section 106 funding levied on developers by the highway authority, and Community Infrastructure Levy are all possibilities. We are hoping that ‘success breeds success’ and that once the first section is done, this will attract more investment for the rest of the Trail.

8) How will this help traffic on the main road (Havant Road, A3023)?

By making the Trail better for active travel (walking, scooting and cycling) experience from elsewhere shows that people who were maybe put off cycling by the perception of dangerous traffic will start to cycle rather than drive. This in turn reduces traffic for other users, not all of who will be able (for various reasons) to cycle, scoot or walk. It only takes a relatively small change in the percentage of people moving from car to other modes of travel, to make a real difference to congestion.

9) The Billy Trail is on the west side of the Island. What about links to it from elsewhere on Hayling?

The feasibility designs will also consider links to the Trail at Victoria Road (near the ‘Esso’ garage), on the footpath link at West Lane bends, and at Saltmarsh Lane / Denhill Close (footpath 521), as well as possible measures on Staunton Avenue. These will all help users to access the Trail without going a long way out of their way.

10) Will the trail be closed whilst the work is carried out?

During the construction period of the ATF4 scheme later in 2024, it will be necessary to close the Trail north of Victoria Road car park for safety reasons as there will be large items of construction plant, along with lorries delivering materials. Posters will be placed on site and information posted on this page, regarding exact dates. The Trail is a permissive route, not a public right of way, and so a formal closure notice is not necessary.

11) Why was site clearance carried out at West Lane bends?

Site clearance along the old route of West Lane (which used to run up to the shore before the railway was built in the 1860s) has been carried out so that surveys can be made of the level of the ground and the condition of the old road which has been hidden under overgrowth since its closure. This will also help us to identify any work needed to trees along the route. The intention is that this route would offer an alternative route for the Billy Trail around a section south of Knotts Marsh which is regularly affected by flooding and blockage by shingle washing up onto the Trail from the beach. There is no funding to build this section yet, but we want the designs prepared so that in the event of further funding being awarded, we’re ready.

12) What public consultation will be held?

Where the existing Trail is being resurfaced we will provide some on-site information – posters have already been erected at either end of the ATF4 section. We held two engagement events on 15th and 22nd November, and some of the FAQs on this page are in response to comments and feedback made at those events. Posters have also been erected to publicise the work we’ll be doing on the link across the Beachlands SSSI between the south end of Staunton Avenue and the track along the beach east of Inn on the Beach, which is planned to be complete by the end of January. On the alternative route proposed at West Lane, this would need planning permission and that offers opportunities for more formal feedback. For the sections on the highway at the south end of the route, we’d offer a public meeting nearer the time, perhaps at the Community centre, but this is a way off yet. All updates will initially be provided on this web page, and in the local press including Hayling Herald.

13) Won’t the Billy Trail be made busier by this work?

The route isn’t being opened to any users who do not currently use the Trail. It is not being opened to electric cars for example. As a permissive bridleway (which it will remain after the work is complete) the only users allowed on the Trail are walkers, cyclists (including e-bikes), scooters (although this is a matter of legal debate), users of mobility aids such as wheelchairs, and equestrians. The aim of the scheme is to provide all-year, all-weather access for all legal users to this beautiful and valued part of the coast. We hope and intend that the volume of users will increase, but the improved surface and wider path will mitigate this increase. There is plenty of experience from around the country that improvements of this sort only improve the usefulness and attractiveness of the route. Such improvements open up whole areas of the coast to those who previously were unable to use it due to physical impairment or who were put off cycling or walking on the busy main road. This all supports local trade and the tourism industry.

14) Isn’t this just all about allowing more development on Hayling?

Far from it. The ATF4 project is funded by the UK Government to support the growth of active travel where clear opportunities to do so have been identified, and Hayling being flat and with a strong tourist impact is an ideal candidate. The current funding has been provided to start upgrading the route in stages, so that active travel modes (primarily walking and cycling) can be grown against a background of known user numbers (surveys have been carried out to find out who and how many people use the Trail, and this will be compared with numbers after the works are complete to demonstrate success). The idea that some future funding for upgrades (which may come from developer contributions) in some way encourages development is misleading; the Section 106 (S.106) transport contributions made by developers are not voluntary and are independently assessed by the highway authority (Hampshire County Council) on the basis of impact on the highway. All but the smallest developments also pay the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to Havant Borough Council. CIL may be used as some of the funding for future phases – but as with S.106 contributions, these are not voluntary and are used to address known or potential shortfalls in infrastructure (not just roads and paths) resulting from the development.

15) Surely the money is better spent repairing worse sections of the Trail further south?

The money awarded so far is capital funding which cannot be used for maintenance. It has been awarded for a specific, time limited construction project on a specific part of the Trail. Maintenance of the rest of the Trail remains the responsibility of Hampshire County Council who, like all public bodies, are struggling with financial pressures including the recent cost increases in materials. As further sections of the project are hopefully awarded funding, any new construction will be to a higher standard than exists at present meaning that, once built, not only will the Trail be a more usable and inclusive place, but also the cost of maintenance will be lower.

Path across the Sinah Common SSSI

16) What does the new path achieve?

The objective of this new path is to create a shared footpath through Sinah Common, accessible to all. The existing route between Sea Front and the beach does not have a footway and vulnerable road users therefore share with traffic; the new path provides a separate, safer route away from this conflict area. The route will ultimately form the final section of a route connecting Langstone Bridge to the beach using the Hayling Billy Trail and Staunton Avenue. It also formalises a pre-existing trodden route though the protected site, with the intention of minimising footfall over the SSSI and to mitigate disturbance to the fauna and flora. The new path is fully in accordance with, and is an early deliverable of, the ambition for Hayling Island Seafront’ – see section 7.0 on pages 16 to 19 of the document for the concept plans.

17) What influenced the materials chosen and the sacrificial surface topping?

We have chosen a Hampshire County standard self binding gravel. The style of shared footpath is consistent to the current footpaths on Hayling island, which is low maintenance appropriate for the character of the SSSI.

18) How does this paths’ impact on the SSSI’s interest features meet with Natural England’s approval?

The footpath was designed to follow the footprint of the existing trodden footpath, and as such have a minimal impact on the SSSI. HBC have undertaken ecological studies and surveys to understand what constraints are associated with the work (for example, the best time to appropriately carry out the work) and an ecologist was present during the clearance works. Natural England have stated that the existing gorse has overpopulated the SSSI area (which is classed as a coastal heathland) and they therefore supported the removal of the vegetation.

19) Why are there are two arms to the path?

The new path follows the exact route of two earlier heavily trodden routes and will eventually connect up to an improved active travel route, so the two arms provide links to meet both sides of Staunton Avenue.

20) Why was the 3m width selected when the need is to minimise impact through the SSSI?

The footpath is 3m wide as this is the standard width for a shared use footpath. This width allows sufficient space for all users to pass safely and comfortably whether on foot, mobility scooter, and so on. The previous informal trodden paths were gradually spreading out and damaging the adjacent habitat; by providing a clearly defined route this spread and damage is halted.

21) Will you be providing dropped kerbs on Sea front to enable disabled users to have better access?

Dropped kerbs to allow access for all users to the new footpath across Sinah Common are intended to be provided in time for the summer. Funding has been made available for this and the final designs are currently being submitted. This work will provide two accessible crossings of Sea Front (east and west of Staunton Avenue) connecting with each arm of the new path.

22) How have the works been funded?

The works have been funded by CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) – see FAQ numbers 1 and 2.