A LONG-awaited transfer of riverside assets to the parish council looks close to completion in Calstock.

A bridge and footpath to take an existing riverside path over new wetlands were opened in 2022, and are now set to be transferred to Calstock Parish Council, subject to agreement by the council’s solicitors.

In 2021, the Environment Agency built 600 metres of new embankment (bund) to protect Calstock from future flooding. The footpath along the old bund, severed when the original flood defence was deliberately breached to create a new intertidal zone, was the missing link in the 35km Tamar Valley Trail. Its reinstatement, along with the building of the footbridge, has enabled people to access the wetland and experience the rich wildlife that has made its home in the new habitat.

The Tamar Community Trust (TCT), as the managers of the footpath and bridge who have provided funding and manpower, will make decisions with input from the council, and will maintain the path and carry out superficial maintenance of the bridge and information signs.

Alongside this transfer, the Town Farm Field will be leased to the local council for 25 years, with a peppercorn rent to reflect the restrictions imposed by the Environment Agency (EA), who reserve the right to flood the land when need be.

During a meeting of Calstock Parish Council, Gill Holland of the Tamar Community Trust explained the contents of the transfer and lease documents to councillors, set out the areas to be transferred and leased as shown on the map, and answered questions about the land boundaries and rights of way, clarifying who would have responsibilities for which bits of land. The ownership of the path is complicated, said Cllr Tinto, with the council to own part of path either side of the bridge and other sections to remain with the EA.

While not able to advise the council legally, it was noted that Gill’s legal expertise and her local knowledge of the lay of the land was invaluable to the council in helping to create and iron out the agreements.

Councillor Alastair Tinto thanked Gill for her work and recommended that the parish council formally note their thanks for her efforts in liaising between the Environment Agency and the council.

Gill had done an awful lot of work in negotiating the terms of the agreement and making them more acceptable to the Parish Council, he said. Initially, the Environment Agency had stipulated that any surplus from the use of Town Farm Field would have to be specifically invested in the footpath and bridge: now, it’s been set out that any income derived from the land “can be used to improve the field and access for the public to the Tamar Valley National Landscape and for the benefit of the community”.

The relationship between the Tamar Community Trust and the Parish Council had also been built into the lease, he added.

With the Tamar Community Trust and the Environment Agency now happy with the documents, it was recommended by Cllr Tinto and carried forward unanimously by council members that Calstock Parish Council approve the agreements as good to go.

Now with the documents just subject to final approval from the council’s solicitors, chairman Jim Wakeham described it as a welcome end to “several years of talking”.