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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com to find out more.
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.