Footpath Diversion Hat-trick!

Statistically, it is more likely that path diversions will proceed unopposed, but there are still many where objections are unresolved and lead to the appointment of an Inspector to determine them.

We have recently had three such cases, all involving applications by landowners to move intrusive paths and improve their privacy.  We are delighted that in every case the diversions have been confirmed.

Hildenborough, Tonbridge, Kent.

The footpath gave this view of the house and its garden yet the Ramblers argued that it was not intrusive.  The landowner had set out a diversion of equal length but a little distant from the house which improved privacy, and it had been well used and was the preferred route for most users.

In addition to the Ramblers, a few local people and the Parish Council also objected so it was necessary to hold a public inquiry which was completed within a day.  We represented the landowner at the inquiry, and supported the case made by Kent County Council.  The Diversion Order was confirmed.

Thorncombe, Dorset

Three footpaths crossed a small area of land, including one immediately behind the landowner’s house, with the other two crossing an orchard.  Other paths had already been established by local people so the whole area of land was surrounded by public paths.

The Parish Council, supported by three individuals, challenged the diversion forcing an inquiry which completed at 7.30 pm.  It was a long day!  A couple of technical issue were raised which needed follow up submissions and the Inspector has proposed confirmation of the Order subject to correcting errors in the Order.

We represented the landowner at the inquiry, and supported Dorset County Council who made the Order.

Little Rollright, Oxfordshire

When the garden at Manor Farm, Little Rollright, had been set out and landscaped, an error had been made in the location of a stone wall, with the consequence that a footpath had been incorporated at the end of the garden.  The wall had been intended to separate the footpath from the garden but was built in the wrong place!

A rather tortuous process followed involving consultation with user groups.  The Diversion Order was made and the Open Spaces Society  objected.  The Planning Inspectorate decided to hold a hearing rather than an inquiry and this was held in a workshop on site.

The Inspector specifically acknowledged the intrusive nature of the path on both the garden and the house and although she considered the diversion did have an impact on public enjoyment, this was not sufficient for her to refuse to confirm the diversion.

Oxfordshire County Council supported the confirmation but deferred to us to make the case at the hearing.  We represented the landowner and were supported by our expert witness, Claire Goodman-Jones.

These three individual cases demonstrate that an objection to a diversion based on increasing privacy, from the likes of a Parish Council, the Ramblers or the Open Spaces Society, should not be regarded as a bar to success and that with careful case management and presentation, these cases can succeed.

We are always happy to assess a diversion proposal and give an experienced view on the prospects of success.

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