Christ’s Hospital bridleway – public inquiry announced

West Sussex County Council are proposing to divert a bridleway (BW 1642) that provides access for Southwater residents to Christs Hospital station. With the help of many people who objected we’ve succeeded in getting this to a public inquiry.

The inquiry is being held at 10:00am on 24 July at The Hertford Centre, Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 0YP and is scheduled to take two days.

The cycle forum will be submitting a Statement of Case outlining our objections and will be attending the inquiry.

Map showing existing all-weather path (in green) and proposed diversion (in red)

The diversion of the existing bridleway would remove an attractive, direct and well-used cycle route from the north of Southwater (which is significantly shorter than using the road) and replace it with a more indirect route which will not have a hard surface for cycling and will be enclosed by hedges so the attractive open views across the playing fields will be lost forever.

The bridleway that is to be "entinguished"

The bridleway that is threatened to be “extinguished”

Why are we objecting?

Christ’s Hospital School are attempting to divert the bridleway by claiming that it is dangerous for pupils at the school.

We believe this is not the case:

  • The risks are not high enough to justify the diversion
  • The school has not taken reasonable alternative measures
  • The proposed measure will not result in a substantial improvement in security
  • The proposed replacement route is inferior
  • There will be environmental damage
  • The bridleway is well-loved by walker, cyclists and equestrians
  • The proposal would be against NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) requirements to prioritise sustainable transport
  • This is an ancient bridleway which predates the school

You can read the background to the issues here.

What can I do?

You can do two things to help.

Attend the inquiry

The more people who attend the better the impact. If you are planning to attend the best time to be there at the start of the inquiry (10:00am on 24 July).

Show your support by commenting below

Do you use the bridleway? Tell us why it is important to you.



  1. Robert Bowall says

    Utterly ridiculous meddling, realistically zero improvement to safeguarding and against the public interest.

  2. I don’t understand how diverting pedestrians around the outside of the playing fields will make CH pupils significantly more ‘safe’; considering that CH already has areas like the fitness centre open to the public. Potentially-troublesome individuals are not going to be put off simply because they are routed away from the current path through the playing fields!

  3. I am fully in agreement with the comments shown above. We should be protecting and enhancing resources like this. The diversion is a retrograde step for what seem relatively minor issues.
    Additionally I am puzzled by the school’s approach. Its mission statement makes much of links with the community and society, and of “excellent preparation for the opportunities, responsibilities and
    experiences of adult life”. This diversion seems an attempt to keep pupils away from the real world. And this is rural Sussex. Hardly a hotbed of crime and violence.

  4. I used to cycle the bridleway ( I’m 80 now) and it would be a pity to loose a valuable fascility for ordinary folk for the sake of extra privacy for those who already have a privalged life. The school was originally established for the underprivileged don’t let it loose all its ethics

  5. Mr. Ken Broomfield says

    My family and I have been using bridleway BW1642 through the grounds of Christ’s Hospital since we moved to Southwater over 20 years ago. It has, and continues to provide, safe, traffic-free access to the many other public footpaths, bridleways and BOTATs in the area. BW1642 is well-used and maintained – never in the 20 plus years I have used the bridleway have I witnessed or considered any “danger or threat” to the pupils of Christ’s Hospital – neither have I read or heard of any incident which has led to the staff of the school applying for the proposed rerouting of BW1642.

    I fully recognise and appreciate the need for full and proper safeguarding of school pupils of all ages, so have other less-intrusive or non-intrusive measures been considered by Christ’s Hospital School that would not have such a startling impact as this proposal? I am firmly of the opinion that this is a situation of “it ain’t broke so don’t fix it” and therefore the onus should be on the School to provide substantive evidence that the proposed rerouting of BW1642 is needed – rather than being an “easier to achieve solution” to the detriment of many members of the local population.

  6. Greg Collins says

    As a cyclist and a runner locally I am 100% behind the forum in objecting to this proposed change, and the utterly spurious reasons being used to justify it. As a well surfaced path linking the Downslink with other local roads I use it regularly and the proposed alternative is vastly inferior.

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