Agenda and minutes

Public Rights of Way Sub Committee
Monday, 13th September, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe CW1 2BJ. View directions

Contact: Karen Shuker  Tel: 01270 686459 Email:  karen.shuker@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor L Crane.

2.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

3.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To recieve the minutes of the meeting of the Public Rights of Way Committee held on 8 March 2021.

 

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.

4.

Public Speaking Time/Open Session

In accordance with Public Speaking Appendix, members of the public may speak on a particular application after the Chair has introduced the report, provided that notice has been given in writing to Democratic Services by 12 noon three clear working day before the meeting.  A total of 6 minutes is allocated for each application, with 3 minutes for objectors and 3 minutes for supporters.  If more than one person wishes to speak as an objector or supporter, the time will be allocated accordingly or those wishing to speak may agree that one of their number shall speak for all.

 

Also in accordance with paragraph 2.24 of the Committee Procedural Rules a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to address the Committee on any matter relevant to the work of the body in question.  Individual members of the public may speak for up to 2 minutes but the Chair will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned where there are a number of speakers.   Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days’ in advance of the meeting and should include the question with that notice.

Minutes:

There were no public speakers.

5.

Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 - Part III, Section 53 Application No. MA/5/249, for the Addition of a Public Footpath between FP13 Lyme Handley on the Macclesfield Canal to FP13 Lyme Handley to the south east of Throstlenest Farm, and also a link footpath from FP13 to FP8 Lyme Handley pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider the application for the addition of a Public Footpath between FP13 Lyme Handley on the Macclesfield Canal to FP13 Lyme Handley to the south east of Throstlenest Farm; and also a link footpath from FP13 to FP8 Lyme Handle.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Stockton joined the meeting during this item.

 

The Committee considered a report which detailed the investigation of an application made to amend the Definitive Map and Statement for the Parish of Lyme Handley by adding a footpath.

 

Under Section 53(2)(b) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Council had a duty to keep the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review. Section 53 (c) allowed the Authority to act on the discovery of evidence that suggested that the Definitive Map and Statement needed to be amended. The Authority must investigate and determine the evidence and decide whether to make a Definitive Map Modification Order or not.

 

One such event under section 53(3)(c)(i) was where

 

“(c) the discovery by the authority of evidence which (when considered with all other relevant evidence available to them) shows:-

 

(i)    That a right of way which is not shown in the map and statement subsists or is reasonably alleged to subsist over land in the area to which the map relates, being a right of way such that the land over which the right subsists is a public path, a restricted byway, or subject to section 54A, a byway open to all traffic”.

 

The evidence could consist of documentary/historical evidence or user evidence or a mixture of both. Where the evidence in support of the application was user evidence, section 31(1) of the Highways Act 1980 applied:- “Where a way ……. has been actually enjoyed by the public as of right and without interruption for a full period of twenty years, the way is deemed to have been dedicated as a highway unless there is sufficient evidence that there was no intention during that period to dedicate it.”

 

The application had been submitted in March 2015 by Mr David Kitching. The application was supported by user evidence from sixteen witnesses; with a further witness, the spouse of one witness, who had not previously completed a user evidence form, who gave evidence to Officers during an interview.

 

The report before Committee detailed the investigation carried out into the application. Documentary evidence from Ordnance Survey Maps and the Lyme Handley Tithe Map supported evidence that public rights existed along the definitive route of Footpath No.13 and part of the claimed footpath.

 

Fourteen of the sixteen witnesses had claimed use of the route on foot for the whole 20 year period, and all had completed standard user evidence forms. The relevant 20 year period was 1994 to 2014. The route had been used for a variety of recreational purposes; dog walking; visiting friends and leisure/exercise. The witnesses stated that they had not been challenged and there was no evidence of any challenge to the public during the relevant period. All the witnesses who had been interviewed had used the route A-B-C-D; most had used D-E, but not many had mentioned the link to Footpath No.8 Lyme Handley (between point C-H on Plan No. WCA/022).

 

The Committee considered the user evidence submitted and the Definitive Map Officer’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Informative Report - Diversion of Henhull FP4 (HA80 S119) PPO pdf icon PDF 118 KB

 

To note that the unopposed Order made to divert part of Henhull Public Footpath No. 4 under TCPA 90 s257, has been abandoned and the same diversion is now being progressed under HA80 s119.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an information report which detailed why an unopposed Order made to divert part of Henhull Public Footpath No.4 under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA 90 s257) had to be abandoned and that the same diversion of the footpath was progressing under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980 (HA80 s119).

 

An application had been made in 2017 requesting the Council make an Order under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which would divert parts of Public Footpath No.4 in the Parish of Henhull. The proposal was approved by the Public Rights of Way Committee on 12th March 2018 and the subsequent Order remained unopposed following formal advertising and the Council had been awaiting contact from the developers regarding the installation of the new diversion routes.

 

In December 2020, a site visit had revealed that a house, part of a garage and garden, had been built on the one of the footpath sections proposed for diversion, and residents had moved in. The development had gone ahead prior to the conclusion of the legal process for the footpath diversion meaning that the legal test of the TCPA 90 s257 legislation had not been met and the diversion was voided.

 

The developers had abandoned the diversion of parts of Henhull Footpath No.4 under TCPA 90 s257 and had re-applied for the same diversion to be progressed under the HA80 s119.

 

Following the conclusion of the pre-Order consultation stage, the diversion would be decided accordingly through the PROW Sub Committee or via delegated decision.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report be noted.

 

7.

Informative Report - Public Rights of Way Annual Report 2020/21 and Work Programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 325 KB

To consider a report on the achievements of the Council in terms of its Public

Rights of Way (PROW) functions during the year 2020 -21 and the proposed work programme for the year 2021 – 22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report which detailed the achievements of the Public Rights of Way team during 2020-21 and set out the proposed work programme for the year 2021-22.

 

The Countryside Service Development Manager reported on the work carried out during 2020-21 by the Network Management and Enforcement Officers, Technical Administration Officer, Public Path Orders Officers and Definitive Map Officers. Specific performance was detailed in the Appendices to the report.

 

The budget for Public Rights of Way during the 2020-21 financial year had remained as forecast throughout the year which had allowed the Team to plan spending efficiently throughout the year. However, budgets over recent years had remained static in contrast to increased costs from suppliers such as timber and metal path furniture. A business case had been successful in securing a small amount of additional revenue for 2021-22.

 

It was also noted that extreme weather events, specifically the rainfall experienced in January 2021, coupled with the increased usage during the Covid-19 lockdowns had put path surfaces under pressure.

 

It was noted that during 2020-21 the team assessed 349 planning applications which was a 10% increase on the previous year. There had been 195 temporary closures processed an increase from the 135 of the previous year.

 

The Public Rights of Way Team had continued to deliver an excellent service across all functions despite a number of long term absences in the team and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Office based tasks had been relocated to home-based remote working which had its own challenges such as working space, broadband, home schooling and access to historic documents, files and office functions.  The good condition of the network was highly regarded by user groups, the processing of legal orders continued to serve both users and landowners, and the high standard of response and service from the team as a whole was widely recognised.

 

Future working arrangements would be likely to involve a form of hybrid office/home working and although the longer-term implications of Covid-19 would become clearer with time, it would certainly involve a continued reduction in income.

 

The implementation of the Deregulation Act 2015 represented a risk to the capability of the team to meet their duties of the Highway Authority with regards to Public Rights of Way. The effect of the Act once implemented would require an appraisal of processes and policies for dealing with Definitive Map Modification Orders and Public Path Orders. Tight timescales would be introduced by the legislation requiring application processing within specified time limits and additionally the processing of Public Path Orders would become a duty rather than a discretionary service.

 

Additional resources would be required to continue maintaining the PROW network and services going forward. The increased use of the network and demand for legal process, together with increased supplies and service costs meant that a growth bid had been submitted through the medium-term financial strategy budget setting process to seek additional resources.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report be noted.

 

8.

Informative Report - Uncontested Public Path Orders Determined under Delegated Decision pdf icon PDF 170 KB

To note the Public Path Orders determined under Delegated Decision.

Minutes:

The Committee received an information report on the uncontested Public Path Order cases that had been determined under delegate decision.

 

One decision had been taken under delegation which related to Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 257 for the Proposed Diversion of Public Footpath No.9 in the Parish of High Legh (Part).

 

AGREED

 

That the uncontested Public Path Order case determined under delegated decision be noted.