Braeport Paths and Pond
The Panel supports this Application based on the drawings provided in the Planning Application to Stirling Council, with the following comments and advisory points.
1. Braeport Gate – SAAP would suggest a vertical viewing panel near the latch on the main gate, per BS8300. Another key aspect is that the main gate should be a two-way, self-closing gate. Using this form of gate ensures that the gate should be safe for all types of users and stop dogs and young children from running out perhaps into moving vehicles. A vertical “D” handle mounted on both sides of the door at an appropriate height would be advisable. If a manual latching mechanism is used, and it should be painted yellow so that it is clearly visible.
2. Path Width – For a semi-rural location, the Paths for All Lowland Paths Guide suggests a 3m wide path. However, for a route which is truly inclusive to all - for walkers, parents with young children, elderly people, ambulant disabled, wheelchair users, people on bikes, ebikes, escooters, etc, then the user may choose to use Cycling by Design 2021, p63, where a recommended width of 4m is used when shared with pedestrians on two-way routes. It is assumed that the surface is compacted whin dust and does not have a crossfall greater than 2% per BS8300-1:2018, Fig.8. During prolonged and heavy rain, particularly at burn crossings, the surface of whin dust can be disturbed and partly washed-away creating a lip which can be difficult for the front wheels of a wheelchair to climb. We do hope that there is provision for path inspections and maintenance. Puddling is another nuisance and should be addressed.
3. Cycle Parking – It is important to give consideration to users who may arrive by bike, then walk to get about, thus a secure and sensible off-path location for bike parking should be provided.
4. Navigation, Orientation and Wayfinding – It is particularly important that the right sort of signage is used outside the Braeport Gate, as well as inside it, with clear information points shown. Brushed stainless steel is an unsuitable material for any signage as it can cause glare in sunny light conditions. The Sign Design Guide is an excellent reference for producing good signage. Note: BS8300 states, “Public toilets should be provided at locations where people meet, wait or spend time”... If there are no toilets on the site, information (direction and distance) on the closest public toilets should be made available. Use of additional dementia friendly icons should be considered on all signage as this will benefit those people with neurodivergent conditions.
5. Short Circular Route – It is desirable that for people with limited physical ability, a route which is relatively level and part sensory is provided, so that they also can enjoy nature, flowers and the full sensory smells and colours of the outdoors. Coloured tarmac would be a superior surface than a semi-bound surface which will need ongoing maintenance. We would also recommend a tapping rail on one side for people with visual impairments or blind users who use a cane.
6. Fernery Glass House – Will there be a viewing platform for say, wheelchair users who wish to admire the plants? Will wheelchair users be able to join in a “group congregation” in this building and will there be a facility for making hot drinks and distributing food? If there is a single toilet, it should also be a unisex corner accessible one, for use by all. All glazing should have colour contrasting manifestations (dark blue is a good colour) at two levels to BS8300. If there is internal seating, some should have armrests to aid sitting and standing by the elderly. Décor should avoid any strong colour patterns which could upset people with neurodivergent conditions. Similarly, if acoustic material can be built-in to the lightweight timber structure, it will be welcomed by people who are upset by loud noises, and those who have a hearing impairment. We note that sketches show internal steps under the canopy, will alternative access arrangements be made for example, a small lift, for wheelchair users to ensure access to all areas? Handrails should be installed on raised decked areas.
7. Outdoor Seating – There is no mention of seating, but it would make sense to provide bench seating (on level surfaces, just off the pathway) with back and arms, to be located at relaxing points and also at intervals of between 150-200 meters or less on paths.
8. Issues with Trees and Soft Landscaping – It should be remembered that trees which shed leaves onto paths in the autumn is a hazard as paths can become slippy underfoot. Trees should be located at a sensible distance away from paths so that roots and branches don’t become a hazard.
9. Waste Bins – To minimise littering, and dog fouling, it would be sensible to provide some facilities.
10. Parking near entrance – As some visitors might arrive by car, has consideration been given to providing some parking, accessible bays and setting-down and pick-up points? Additionally, some people may use public transport as well as active travel, therefore signage from the railway station and closest bus stop might be helpful.
11. Assistance dog toilets/spending area – Spending areas should be provided in certain areas to allow users to toilet their dogs in a safe and clean manner.
10. Gradients of Paths – Manual wheelchair users may not be able to climb a particular gradient although most disabled users have battery electric chairs or mobility scooters which allow them to travel most paths. The Fieldfare Trust for many years prior to it being dissolved, used to have a very effective system called ‘Phototrails’ of mapping trails with pictures and comments. They let the reviewer make up their own mind about whether the trail was manageable or not. A Phototrail of the paths is something that could be added to a website, which presumably will accompany this development.
The Panel expressed best wishes for the success of this promising project.