Routeways Working Group
The parish is covered with historic footpaths, tracks and roads many of which were present by the 14th century. The ridge-top roads of the High Street, Grange Road, and Chennell Park Road are the oldest and pre-date the town.
The Hastings to Dover Roman Road runs through St Michael’s along Millpond Lane, Grange Road, and into Dawbourne Wood.
The dense criss-cross of field paths are remains of radiating drove-ways, routes between historic farmsteads, and mediaeval pilgrimage paths between churches.
The 145km High Weald Landscape Trail between Horsham and Rye runs through Tenterden connecting it to Rolvenden and Smallhythe.
The 98 km National Cycle Route 18 from Canterbury to Royal Tunbridge Wells passes through St Michael’s and along Reader’s Bridge Road
What’s so special about our routeways?
Our beautiful routeways are characterised by remains of earth banks, ditches and closely associated mediaeval field systems. Their wide grass and wildflower verges recall the function of routeways as linear common grazing.
Drainage ditches and ancient hedges support rich biodiversity and provide wildlife corridors
Tenterden itself is highly permeable; narrow twittens between buildings are part of the historic built environment and often connect to field paths.
Heritage features abound – such as milestones, mediaeval paving, early fingerposts, WW2 landscape features, industrial remains, and relics of the railway.
Threats and problems for routeways
We have identified a number of common threats and problems across the routeway network:
- Limited accessibility and difficult to walk field paths
- Damage to narrow roads by vehicles, creating pot holes and destroying banks, sensitive verges and ditches that support biodiversity
- Diversions of footpaths from their historic routes, whether for development or by landowners
- Replacement of field paths in new developments with pavements, curbs, and inappropriate hard-surfacing
- Blockages in the town from cul-de-sacs, gated developments, and poor pathway planning
- Traffic congestion and speed making walking and cycling along roads dangerous
We’re losing fields and country footpaths to developers at a rapid pace. A total of 700m have been lost so far, and a further 900m are under threat.
Poor design creates blockages in the town. For example, the Townsfield Court development has created a gated cul-de-sac that blocks access from Bridewell Lane to the countryside and AB32.
Dead ends are not in keeping with the character of High Weald settlements.
Robust design standards would have protected the permeability of the town allowing people to walk to nearby streets and the countryside beyond.
What can we do to protect and enhance our routeways?
We can protect and enhance existing routeways by developing Neighbourhood Plan policies covering areas such as:
- Promoting health and wellbeing through increased accessibility to the footpath and cycle route network
- Encouraging greater use of field paths through better information and clearer signage
- Protecting and improving biodiversity through appropriate maintenance of rural roads and verges and habitat improvement
- Identifying opportunities to improve connections between existing paths, bridleways and cycling routes
- Identifying opportunities to improve cycling infrastructure including secure cycle storage and e- bike charging locations
- Improving road signage, introducing traffic calming measures and creating walkable verges on roads frequently used by runners, walkers and cyclists
Our Neighbourhood Plan will allow us to:
- Maintain and enhance routeway soft landscaping and green verges
- Protect local character in pathway design, width and edging
- Improve routeway access for different users
- Maintain and improve the inter-connectivity of routeways both in the
countryside and the town
- Protect the character, public realm and sense of place that historic routeways provide, and
- Maximise opportunities to enhance routeway habitats and improve