Frustration for residents as popular Aylesbury footpath shut by HS2 could remain closed for another two years

As summer approaches residents still cannot access the through path
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A popular footpath in Aylesbury could be closed for another two years, HS2 officials have warned residents.

Thame Valley Walk by Fairford Leys was closed by the rail project as a safety precaution last year. Some residents contacted the local press and officials in the hope it may be temporarily opened for the spring and summer months.

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Now, additional frustration has been caused by correspondence stating the path could be closed until 2026.

The closed off site in 2023, photo from @alan_cooper1The closed off site in 2023, photo from @alan_cooper1
The closed off site in 2023, photo from @alan_cooper1

HS2 has said it intends to open the footpath to the public next year rather than 2026, while acknowledging that it has the powers to keep the area closed for a further two years.

Alan Cooper, who contacted HS2 for an update, told The Bucks Herald: “Why is Aylesbury treated as second-rate and HS2 are making no effort to maintain our liberties? Other areas have had important footpath crossings kept open.”

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Thame Valley Walk, which is within close proximity to a current HS2 site, links Aylesbury and Eythrope Park and offers the safest route for walkers and cyclists to reach the picturesque Buckinghamshire site.

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But despite local protests HS2 maintains that it would be unsafe to open the pathway until work is complete, and adds that upon reopening residents will also have access to a new bridge being built as part of the Government funded project.

A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said: “We recognise the importance of access to the countryside, and we will deliver a new combined footpath and bridleway to keep the Thame Path open in the long term. While our consents allow us to keep the route closed till 2026 we are actually aiming to reopen it next year.”

Mr Cooper contacted The Bucks Herald after being told by an official from Eiffage Kier Ferrovial, the engineering company working on behalf of HS2, who stated that the path would be shut until May 2026.

This would represent an extension to the plans originally released to residents, when it was hoped the path would reopen by 2025.

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Mr Cooper also contacted environmental campaigners last year arguing HS2 had closed off more of the footpath than was necessary, further limiting residents’ abilities to exercise and take in the countryside.