Plans to put in a half-a-million-pound bridleway near the A404 to create a “safer, better access” to a nearby village have been slammed by residents.

Highways England started work to construct a £480,000 bridleway alongside the A404 between Hurley Lane and Bradenham Lane to allow pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders to access Temple safely last week.

Residents in the area were sent letters dated February 13, for work to start last Monday (February 18) and complete on May 10, with the work requiring “major clearance” of the path, with removal of trees and other shrubs and brambles.

The northbound carriageway of the A404 was closed overnight from Burchetts Green to the Bisham roundabout, with a diversion via Henley-on-Thames.

The northbound exit slip road to Bradenham Lane has been closed since Tuesday (February 19) for three weeks and will be closed again for two weeks on April 29, according to the letter.

Residents are angry and say they were not given enough notice, nor were they consulted about the work.

Speaking on behalf of Temple residents at a meeting of Bisham Parish Council last Monday, John George said: “I’m concerned about the impossibly short notice and that there has been no consultation.

“It is of concern that the plans show that most of the established trees and hedgerows would be removed.

“Apart from the damage to the environment, this would significantly impact the already bad noise pollution that we suffer in Temple.”

Mr George also criticised the parish council for not “acting on notification [sent to the council] last November” by Highways England.

He said: “Any objection has been damaged by the parish council not acting on [the] notification.

“Nobody in Temple was advised of this work or given the opportunity to voice concerns.”

Parish council chairman Cllr Alan Keene said the initiative came from the council, specifically from him, adding: “I have been campaigning for many, many years to have a multi-user path or footpath or some sort of path to connect Burley Lane to Bradenham Lane because I know people who cycle backwards and forwards, and the only way currently is on the verge of the A404 – which, as you can imagine, is dangerous, frightening and it’s not even possible to do it on a horse.

“Last year in November the borough [Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead] decided to support this proposal, which I relayed back to the parish council at our meeting in November.”

Speaking about the “lack” of consultation, Cllr Keene added: “The parish council has no resources to consult on all issues.

“We run our meetings openly, in public. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

“I don’t accept that the parish council has been negligent by not specifically consulting anybody on this.

“I know a lot of people who want this and have asked for it over the years and that’s what we’ve done.

“I’m very disappointed by all this because when, after many years of campaigning we’ve succeeded in getting this scheme adopted, now all of a sudden we’re in the firing line for it.”

Highways England said in a statement: “The A404 is a high-speed road, and having a dedicated path for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians has safety benefits for drivers and non-drivers alike.

“We are building this new shared use path after discussions with Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and it will help to link up a network of paths in this area to make it easier and safer for people to get around without a car.”