Towards the end of September 2015 I was driving back from visiting a new Estate in East Sussex when I took a call from a developer in the North West.
The problem sounded complex . A bridleway and a footpath had a significant impact on a house being developed for a high profile individual. The developer had believed the diversion would be problematic and time consuming and so a plan had been prepared to lower the level of the bridleway to lose it from view. The longer term plan was then to divert the paths after the house was built.
Emails, plans, drawings and opinions were exchanged over the next month. I visited the site towards the end of October. Our team were ready to go. But we couldn’t help thinking that changing the level was unnecessary and that the best bet was simply to press ahead with a diversion.
By Mid November we had agreed that was the right step and that the original wish to hide the bridleway should be abandoned, so with the agreement of the Council, we were able to undertake the pre-order consultation and in March this year the Council agreed to make a complex order for the diversion of the bridleway and the footpath. We then drafted the Order. With a few frustrating delays for Christmas, Easter and annual holidays, the Order was eventually confirmed in July. Even with those delays, from start to finish the process was completed within 8 months.
The result is:
Greater privacy and security for the new house being built on the site; and
A much nicer environment for riding and walking:
There is no particular reason why diversions should take long to be dealt with. Invariably it is because officers in councils have too many cases to process or councils have processes which cannot accommodate speedy decisions (such as infrequent committee meetings). Allowing the applicant’s advisers to do the consultation and the drafting of orders saves time for the council.
We are pleased to be pursuing this model in Wiltshire now and look forward to the time when it is the normal way of dealing with matters.
As always we are happy to help you achieve a diversion – call Michael Wood on 07796 958572 or email Michael on email@example.com
We have another confirmed diversion to report! Our second confirmed diversion in Kent so far this year, reflecting that Kent is one of the counties where the Rights of Way Officers are realistic and get on with things (something some other authorities could learn from). In both cases there were objections. In one, the objection was withdrawn, and in the other, the matter was dealt with by written representations to an Inspector.
In the written representation case, the path ran through the garden of The Old Rectory at Alkham. If you stood on the path this is what you would see:
You would be standing on the parking area for the house. It would be easy to wave to the owner if he was standing in the kitchen – this is the view of the parking area from the kitchen window.
Of course the path then ran off across the lawn by the seat:
And walkers could be easily viewed from the bedroom as they crossed the lawn.
Some suggested that it did not impact on the property (which had been in the family for many years) and it was true that the diversion was not straight forward but we are pleased that the Inspector weighed our arguments and accepted that the diversion met the statutory tests and should be confirmed.
Another satisfied client for ET Landnet.
We are working on many such applications at the moment, all proceeding at various speeds, and we have several stacked waiting to be pursued when the new “Right to Apply” provisions take effect in July. We will continue to carry out an initial assessment of any diversion proposal anywhere in England or Wales for our fixed fee of £500 plus VAT to give a realistic appraisal to the owner of occupier of land.
Call Michael Wood on 07795 958572 or email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Public paths that run through gardens and farm and working yards often have their origins as routes to work which became recorded as public rights of way in the 1950s. Today these bring new issues for those who live and work in proximity to those paths.
The often cited problems about paths through gardens are not overstated. We frequently advise prospective purchasers to avoid houses where paths pass close to their dream house, and increasingly we are working on projects to divert paths as part of the buying process. Paths that affect the privacy and security of the landowner have a significant impact on the value of property and its sale-ability.
The central problem in many cases has been the unwillingness of councils to take diversion proposals forward despite them meeting the statutory tests due to objections from user groups and parish councils where a personal element comes into play. Rather than enable an independent Inspector to weigh up the issues, the council facing the cost of an inquiry will in strained financial times just say “no”.
That problem is about to change and it is set to have a dramatic impact. Councils will now have to to determine applications within a reasonable time and there will be a right to apply to the Secretary of State where a council will not make an order or will not have an order determined if there are objections to it.
The changes are due to take effect in April and we are already reviewing several matters which stalled when councils would not take them forward.
Diversion proposals will still have to meet the statutory criteria so they must not be substantially less convenient to the public and where there is a potential loss of public enjoyment, there must be significant benefits to the landowner to justify the move.
We are carrying out assessments throughout England (where these new rules will apply) under out first view fixed fee scheme of £500 plus VAT so please get in touch if you are thinking of applying to divert that path through your land. Call Michael Wood on 07796 958572, email him on email@example.com or complete the form below and we will get back to you. You can visit our website at www.etlandnet.co.uk.
We diverted the footpath and bridleway at Pitshill (above) so that it could be restored as a family home.
We have recently achieved public path diversions for two clients each with equestrian interests.
In Wiltshire, the bridleway running through this working yard has been diverted as part of a development of farm buildings using planning legislation. At a public inquiry in December we represented the owner and called supporters and expert evidence to satisfy the Inspector that the proposal should be confirmed.
Meanwhile in Devon, and the village of Kings Nympton, our clients breed racehorses and the main paddock was crossed by a footpath which few people used, choosing instead an alternative permissive path that formed the basis of the diversion. Neighbours and the Parish Council were opposed because of the perceived impact on properties near the diversion.
The design for the new path was detailed and a little unusual but reflected the importance of the diversion to the client. It incorporated specific fencing and drainage provisions to address points made by objectors. This was the design plan we produced to the Inspector:
This case was ultimately determined by written representations with the Inspector carrying out an unaccompanied site visit. Where this method can be used it is undoubtedly cheaper for the client. Following the decision to confirm the Order, the new route is now being constructed so that the diversion can take effect.
These two recent cases demonstrate the importance of creative thinking and solutions. The Wiltshire diversion would have taken much longer and met greater challenge had it not been possible to engage the planning procedures for path diversions. We always consider this possibility. The Devon case showed the importance of thoughtful design in a diversion proposal.
We work with a number of equestrian businesses throughout England addressing the particular issues they can have.
Marden in Kent has a number of public paths and clearly a number of people passionate about using them. Its Footpath Group applied to modify the Definitive Map to add a footpath on a track, arguing that the fact that two other paths terminated on the track with no connection between them or other public rights of way meant the track must have always been public.
It based its claim on historic documents, adding a little evidence of use as a back-up to its argument.
Working for the landowners affected by the claim, we argued that the evidence did not support the case, and was contradictory in any event. Whilst some part of the track had been claimed in the 1950s, someone at the time took a clear decision that the route should not be recorded and it was removed from the final map.
For two days in March the evidence was examined and witnesses questioned at a local inquiry. Pleas that “sense” should prevail and that the landowners should agree a path were made but were, of course, not relevant to the Inspector’s decision.
Unusually many of the arguments had been run previously and had failed so the landowners had regarded the issue closed before the claim was renewed based on “new evidence”. The County Council had declined to make an Order but had been directed to do so by the Secretary of State, ultimately ending with the inquiry process.
We are pleased that our arguments against the Order prevailed before the Inspector who decided that the Order should not be confirmed. His finding should be the end of this saga for those involved.
You can read the decision here: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/pins/row/documents/fps_w2275_7_76.pdf
If you are facing a claim or want help with a public right of way issue, diversion or extinguishment, call us now on 0203 086 7657 or email Michael Wood firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
More details of what we can do for you are on our website http://www.etlandnet.co.uk