When the Highways Agency (HA) first drew up plans for their A23 Handcross to Warninglid Widening Scheme, they provided new footway/cycleway routes and a pedestrian subway.
The local equestrian community, in urgent need of access to these facilities, approached the British Horse Society (BHS) and Mid Sussex Area Bridleways Group (MSABG) for help. The help given resulted in Tricia Butcher (BHS) and Hilary Pierce (MSABG) presenting a case for equestrian inclusion at Public Inquiry in June 2009.
Much to their delight, the Inspector subsequently concluded that their arguments were justified, saying, "The network available for equestrians is not the same as that for other NMUs," and "They cannot use footpaths, and local roads are narrow and busy, making them no longer safe for riding."
HA argued that they had no remit to improve the bridleway network, however the Inspector concluded that "None of the NMU interests are asking for major extensions to the bridleway network, but just some facility for reasonable use by equestrians of part of the A23 corridor which has become unusable because of the volume and speed of traffic.
"It seems to me reasonable that HA should take appropriate measure to allow usage by all NMUs of the new route where there is no ready alternative."
It has taken another five years to construct, but the new bridleway (on the western side of the A23 between Warninglid and Slaugham),officially dedicated by HA, and the subway, opened just before Christmas. HA have done an excellent job!
It is amazing at long last not only to see these routes on the ground, but to see them being used and enjoyed by locals, especially equestrians. Once the tree planting has matured the new bridleway will run through woodland - better than was ever hoped for!