Agenda and minutes

Commons and Rights of Way Committee
Monday 21 March 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Joanne Bolton 

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairperson

Election of Chairperson for the remaining civic year. 

Minutes:

Cllr Paul McMahon was elected as Chairman of the Committee for the remainder of the civic year.

 

2.

Minutes - pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2015.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 10 December 2015 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

3.

Public Questions on Application(s)

To answer any written or public questions about the application(s) before the Committee at this meeting.  The closing date /time for the receipt of questions

is 10 am on 14  March 2016.

 

With the consent of the Chairperson, to answer any oral question(s) on the application(s) before the Committee at this meeting put by members of the public, where notice of such has been given to the Chief Executive (or their representative) by 9.30am on 21 March 2016.

 

Depending on the nature of the oral questions asked it may not be possible to provide a comprehensive answer at the meeting, in which case a written answer will be supplied as soon as reasonably possible after the meeting.

 

Minutes:

No questions were received from the public on applications before the Committee.

 

4.

Members Questions on Application(s)

To answer any written members’ questions on the application(s) before Committee at the meeting. The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10am on 14 March 2016.

 

Minutes:

At the meeting Cllr Leppington made reference to there being no comments from the local councillors on one of the applications and enquired about the process for informing councillors of the applications in their area.  Officers confirmed that the local councillors were informed of the applications, but councillors were not required to respond with their comments.  The process for involving local members would however be looked at to ascertain if any improvements could be made.

 

5.

Upgrade Footpaths MBL 11 (part) and MBL 13 to Bridleways at Toadsmoor Wood, Parish of Bisley with Lypiatt. pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To consider the application to Upgrade Footpaths MBL 11 (part) and MBL 13 to Bridleways at Toadsmoor Wood, Parish of Bisley with Lypiatt.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1         Andrew Houldey, Asset Data Officer (PROW Definitive MAP), gave a presentation to the Committee, aided by a power-point presentation which included photographs of the claimed way.

 

5.2         The Committee noted that the application was to upgrade the claimed route to a bridleway on the Definitative Map.  The erection of a sign by the Public Rights of Way Team in 1996, forbidding horse riders from using the route, was the act which had brought the right of the public to use the path as a bridleway into question.

 

5.3         The following points were made in response to the Committee’s questions:

5.3.1   The signage was erected following the discovery of some degree of horse use on the route.  The signs were erected with the agreement of the previous landowner (Mr Young), with the aim of stopping the use of horses on the route increasing, and protecting the surface following remedial work.

 

5.3.2     The statements from some of the witnesses indicated that the previous landowners, (Mr and Mrs Young) allowed permissive use of the claimed route with horses, including use prior to 1996.

 

5.3.3     Following a change in the ownership of Toadsmoor Woods in 2007, stepovers were removed and replaced by stiles in 2008, which effectively prevented horse-use.  The collection of evidence and the making of an application to upgrade the claimed route to bridleways was in response to the closure of other paths in the wood in 2008 rather than bringing into question of use on the claimed way itself.

 

5.3.4    One member made reference to the number of horse riders using the route, he commented that given the 20-year time period it didn’t seem to be a very substantial number.  Officers explained that whilst there was no statutory minimum level of users required to show sufficient use to raise a presumption of dedication, use should have been by a sufficient number of people to show that it was ‘use by the public’. The quality of the evidence was also as important as the quantity.   Reference was made to case law from 1999, whereby the judge had deemed that five user evidence forms was insufficient to satisfy the statutory test.  Officers were satisfied that the total number of 23 witnesses, who had claimed to have used the route as a bridleway during the period 1976-1996, was sufficient evidence of use.

5.4      Having considered all of the information before it, the Committee

 

Resolved:

That an order be made to upgrade the footpaths MBL 11 (part) and MBL 13 to public bridleways.

6.

Application for a Modification Order for an additional length of public Bridleway and the upgrading of parts of public Footpaths MMH3 and MRO24 to Bridleway, Parishes of Minchinhampton & Rodborough. pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the application for a Modification Order for an additional length of public Bridleway and the upgrading of parts of public Footpaths MMH3 and MRO24 to Bridleway,Parish of Minchinhampton & Rodborough.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      Jaci Harris, Asset Data Officer (PROW Definitive Map), gave a detailed presentation to the Committee, aided by a power-point presentation which included photographs of the claimed way.

 

6.2         The Committee noted that the erection of a sign by the Public Rights of Way Team in November 2005, forbidding horse riders from using the route, was the act which brought the right of the public to use the path as a bridleway into question.  A claim followed shortly thereafter in March 2006.  The qualifying period of use was taken to be November 1985 to 2005.

 

6.3         The following points were made in response to the Committee’s questions:

 

6.3.1    One member made reference to the potential damage and the associated sustainability issues of allowing horse riders to use the paths.  Officers confirmed that the landowners and the National Trust were supportive of the use of the paths on foot, but not as bridleways due to the damage to the to the path and the conflict of interest between walkers and riders.  It was confirmed that if the paths were approved as bridleways, then they would be maintained as such and improved for use by horse riders.  The Committee acknowledged that the suitability of the paths for use as bridleways was not a factor which could be taken into consideration when making a decision on the application.

 

6.3.2    The duty of the National Trust did not extend to riding horses across common land in their ownership. The Trust had confirmed that there were no byelaws or signs in place permitting horse riding across Rodborough Common or Minchinhampton Common. Therefore, a claim of a presumed dedication for a bridleway could be made. 

 

6.3.3    The landowners both adjacent to the route and affected by it were aware of the use of the claimed paths by horse riders.    Whilst there was limited documentary evidence detailing the claimed route, the user evidence was more compelling showing that 14 of the 19 witnesses had supplied evidence of unchallenged use for the whole 20 year qualifying period of between 1985 and 2005.

 

6.4         Having considered all of the information before it, the Committee

 

Resolved:

 

(a)          That an order be made to add a length of public bridleway to the Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way between points A-B & C-F-D & F-G.

(b)         That an order be made to upgrade part of public footpath MR024           between points B-C to bridleway.

(c)          That an order be made to upgrade part of public footpath MMH3            between points G-H & D-E to bridleway.

 

7.

Additional Public Footpath at The Alley, Brockhampton, Parish of Sevenhampton pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To consider the application for an additional Public Footpath at The Alley, Brockhampton, in the Parish of Sevenhampton.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1      Andrew Houldey, Asset Data Officer (PROW Definitive Map), gave a detailed presentation to the Committee, aided by a power-point presentation which included photographs of the route under consideration.

 

7.2         The Committee noted that it was the action of locking the hand gate in 2013 which brought into question the right of the public to use the path, even though this was countered by path users removing the lock within a few days.  It was explained however that the actions of the owners of Spring Cottage in making the path appear private which had led to the application.  The relevant period was 1993 to 2013 of which use by the public on foot needed to be evidenced.

 

7.3         Mr Houldey explained that the user evidence forms pointed to extensive public use of the claimed way by walkers.  In total, there were 27 witnesses who had used the claimed route on foot during the period 1993-2013.  The way was also used to provide vehicular access to properties at either end, it was not capable of being a vehicular thoroughfare due to its narrow width in parts.

 

7.4         The path was depicted on the large-scale plans of the 1880s, 1903 and 1922 as a through-route giving access to different properties, with no boundary features running across it or at either end.  There was also evidence that the claimed path had previously given access to a well and therefore this would have been a place of resort where villagers were reliant on the well for their water supply.

 

7.5         One member referred to the psychological impact of the electronic gate deterring potential users of the way, and questioned whether any action could be taken if the route was approved as a public footpath.  In response, Janet Smith, Senior Lawyer, explained that if complaints about the gate were received then consideration could be given (i.e. through a public interest test), as to whether there was a case for removal of the gate.

 

7.6         Having considered all of the information before it, the Committee

 

Resolved:

 

That an order be made to add a length of public footpath from point A to D as claimed.

 

8.

Public Questions -

To answer any written or public questions about the matters, which are within the powers and duties of the Committee.

The closing date /time for the receipt of questions is 10am on 14 March.

 

To answer any oral question(s) put by members of the public, subject to any question having been registered by 9.30am on 21 March 2016.

 

Depending on the nature of the oral questions asked it may not be possible to provide a comprehensive answer at the meeting, in which case a written answer will be supplied as soon as reasonably possible after the meeting.

Minutes:

No questions had been received from members of the public.

9.

Members' Questions -

To answer any written members’ questions. The closing date/time for the receipt of questions is 10am on 14 March 2016.

Minutes:

No questions had been received from Members.