Footpath Diversion worth the wait?

Clients in Herefordshire have finally had their footpath diversion confirmed after nearly two decades!  The cross-field path has been diverted on to the neighbouring farm track, which is the route people have walked for so long.  The case was dealt with by the “written representations” method of determining objections, and the clients are very relieved it is finally at an end.  It was certainly worth the wait!

Not all cases are like this, thankfully, and the new procedures in the Right to Apply legislation are intended to make a marked improvement to the speed of the process.  There is no inherent reason why a diversion should take so long.  It is either a “good diversion” (in the sense that it meets the statutory tests and DEFRA guidance) or it is not.

It might be thought that delay benefits the objectors but that is rarely the case.  Like the applicants and their advisers, we all only have so long on this earth and if you have a genuinely held objection to a proposal, surely it is better to have it considered and move on!

Any paralysis in the system usually arises from an approach that “we have always done things like that”.  It is an approach which has been swept aside in so many areas of our lives without harm.  The procedure retains the rights of the public to play a full part in the determination of path proposals, even through to a public inquiry if really needed.

You can always talk to us about how we can help you.  Call Michael Wood on 07796 958572 or email Michael at mw@etlandnet.co.uk and see what solutions there are to these issues.

 


Diverting or extinguishing public rights of way. The Deregulation Act 2015 finally receives Royal Assent.

“La Reine le vault”.  And so the Deregulation Bill finally received Royal Assent yesterday as Parliament was prorogued, and we can finally look to the future regarding the changes provided by this legislation for rights of way procedures.

The most important element for our clients is the provision to give landowners the right to apply for a diversion or extinguishment order and to have the application determined.  The current process enables a council simply to decline a request to divert or extinguish regardless of the merits of the case.  When fully implemented, the legislation will mean that if a Council does not determine the application, refuses to make a diversion order, fails to submit an opposed order for determination, or simply fails to take a decision within a reasonable time, it will be possible to appeal to the Secretary of State.

The full implementation will take a little while to complete as secondary legislation and guidance will need to be issued.  There is, however, a will at DEFRA and with those disparate groups who have been driving the legislation to bring all of the changes into force at the same time, so that provisions such as the right to apply which benefit landowners are not left behind whilst other changes that benefit users are implemented.

We are very fortunate to be working with Mike Walker on our diversion and extinguishment cases, as Mike is directly involved with the implementation process with DEFRA.  Together we are looking at some of the good practices already in place with other authorities which aim to speed up the process of application and determination and to see if these can be introduced more widely to make the new legislation work efficiently.

We have a number of cases of existing projects that are ready to be taken forward when the new legislation is finally in place.  These are cases where authorities have been unwilling to proceed with a matter because of the likelihood of objections, regardless of the merits of the proposal and the benefit to the landowner.

We anticipate that the new changes will lead to a significant demand from landowners seeking to remedy long standing path issues particularly those that impact on privacy, security and the operation of farming, manufacturing and rural business.  We have already developed a number of strategies for the existing procedure and these can be brought into play under the new legislation.

Mike has been involved in drafting the guidance to be applied when diversions out of gardens and working yards are sought, and we are looking to apply this guidance to our current and future projects.  As demand for applications is expected to be high, now is a great time to evaluate diversion and extinguishment proposals and to get these projects ready to move forward as soon as the legislation permits.

We realise that landowners can be concerned about the costs they may incur and wish to avoid an open-ended commitment.  We will always carry out an initial site visit to evaluate the issues and then prepare a quotation to take the matter forward.  The cost of the first visit and evaluation is fixed at £500 plus VAT.  The matter can then proceed on a fixed quotation or with a ceiling on fees for each element of the project.

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A Site Visit in Oxfordshire

 

We are also pleased to take on existing projects that may have failed or which are stalled, or those which are awaiting determination or have been referred to the Secretary of State for a public inquiry or hearing.

As always you can check out our website for more information about us and our projects: www.etlandnet.co.uk

Or to contact us complete the form below or call Michael Wood at ET Landnet on 07796 958572 or 0203 086 7657 or you can email Michael on mw@etlandnet.co.uk