Residents have seen plans which could finally see long called-for changes made to a controversial Newmarket horsewalk.
Since it was opened more than a year ago, the design of the Snailwell Road horsewalk has infuriated those living close by because it had narrowed the road between its junctions with Fordham Road and Malcolm Way, making it impossible for large vehicles to pass without mounting the pavement, causing damage to the footpath and putting pedestrians at risk.
Last week, at a meeting convened by Newmarket county councillor Robin Millar at the town’s Racing Centre, residents joined representatives of Suffolk County Council, including highways chief Guy Smith, Nick Patton, assistant manager of Jockey Club Estates and Snailwell Road trainer James Fanshawe when they were shown drawing of proposed improvements.
“When I was elected residents quickly brought to my attention their concerns about the new horsewalk and alterations to Snailwell Road. I offered to look into it and found that the concerns about construction, consultation and impact justified a review,” said Cllr Millar.
“I asked council officers to look at a scheme which would address complaints about the narrowness of the road.”
The proposals outlined included the widening Snailwell Road between the two junctions to a minimum of six metres, by shifting the horsewalk across 0.5m so addressing a ‘pinch point’ in that section which is only 5.47 metres wide.
A new horsewalk would be introduced between Malcolm Way and Pegasus Stables, along the grass verge.
“This does not change the road width and preserves much of the grass, but sets in a two metre wide stone path for the horses and a fence similar to the one between Fordham Road and Malcolm Way,” said Cllr Millar. “This is primarily for safety reasons – there has been a spate of slips and falls with one fatality so I am concerned something is done here as soon as possible.
“Residents from about half the addresses affected – including racing staff and businesses along the road – attended the event and there was much comment and discussion with myself and the county engineers,” said Cllr Millar.
“There were a range of views put forward and some helpful, detailed considerations offered to minimise disturbance and inconvenience.
“This was an important chance for residents and the racing businesses along Snailwell Road to have their say on proposals. They are the ones who use this road daily and who are confronted with problems of speeding cars, inconsiderate parking and navigating narrow lanes.
“We will now start collating the responses and will report back to residents along Snailwell Road and the attached streets, with the results.”
Resident Arthur Roberts who has been campaigning for months to get changes made, said: “The main thing about this meeting was that a councillor was willing to bring all those in the argument together and show drawings of proposed improvements. While we will not relax completely we will now leave this with some confidence to a councillor which should have been the case in March 2015 when the walk was completed.”