To consider the application to divert an unrecorded footpath at Church Lane, Wistaston
The Committee considered a report which detailed an application from Gladman Developments Ltd requesting the Council to make an Order under Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to divert an Unrecorded Footpath on land off Church Lane, Wisataston.
In accordance with Section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 the Borough Council, as Planning Authority, can make an Order diverting a public right of way if it was satisfied that it was necessary to do so to enable development to be carried out in accordance with a planning permission that had been applied for or granted.
Planning approval had been granted for an outline application for a proposed residential development of up to 300 dwellings, site access, public open space, landscaping and associated infrastructure – planning reference 14/3024N.
The footpath was not currently recorded on the Definitive Map but was the subject of a Definitive Map Modification Order application which was submitted in July 2015 by Mr FP Alcock. The application was based on user evidence from ten individuals claiming use for a period spanning more than twenty years and an overall average of 25 years. The application had not yet been investigated as it had been overtaken by the approved development on the site. The Applicant was aware of the informal circular route in existence on the site prior to the application for the Definitive Map Modification Order being submitted, and provision was made within the master planning for this to be incorporated into the scheme and formalised. This is shown on the Footpaths and Cycleways Plan, which was an approved drawing and which Condition 16 of the planning permission required implementation to substantially accord with.
Councillor Margaret Simon, ward councillor, stated that the unrecorded circular footpath on Witters Field had been present for many years and was well used. She was concerned about the proposed alignment of the path K-E-L. which was in front of the proposed houses and said that residents would like to see the part of the footpath immediately behind the existing houses on Church Lane to give them an element of privacy and not be back to back with the new homes. She asked the Committee not to make a decision now but to allow time for residents to discuss with Gladman to come up with a compromise to suit the residents.
Mr Peter Wainwright spoke in objection to the application. The route around the field was used on a daily basis. The results of a survey of users over a four day period had resulted in a request for the path to continue to circumvent the field and be incorporated in to the estate and that a buffer zone to include the path should be created between the houses and bungalows on Church Lane and the new houses and would not create any greater security issues than already existed with the houses backing onto open fields. He referred to Defra Circular 01/09 which stated that any alternative alignment should avoid the use of estate roads and preference should be given to the use of made up estate paths through landscaped and open spaces away from vehicle traffic.
Mr Kevin Waters spoke in support of the application and stated that the designs for the site recognised the two existing footpaths and presence of an informal circular route. Planning permission granted by Secretary of State outlined required elements of the reserve matters application to be substantially in accordance with already established design principles. This was referred to in two conditions of approval, one of which was Condition 16 in Appendix B to the Decision Letter and related to the Footpaths and Cycleways Plan. The legal test necessary for this diversion to be carried out in accordance with the planning permission granted had been met as the alignment was on the master planning documents approved by the Secretary of State.
The report detailed the proposed route of the path. The proposed diversion was necessary to accommodate the layout of the housing development and infrastructure which would directly affect the footpath. The developer was to provide a new path running around the site along a similar but slightly altered alignment to the one claimed. This would retain the nature of the claimed path as a circular route with the northern and western lengths still running through an undeveloped green zone although the southern alignment would be more urban in character. It had been agreed to provide a green corridor between the proposed houses and the new estate road to accommodate this section of the unrecorded path to better comply with Defra Rights of Way Circular 1/09.
Informal consultation had resulted in two objections and eight individual comments/potential objections and two petitions being received, details of these were included in the report. No comments had been received from the users groups.
The Committee considered the report and the comments made by the public speakers and sought clarification on the status of the present circular path; the history of the site and the extent to which the development layout and consequentially the path alignments had been set in stone by the planning process thus far. It was moved and seconded that the decision on the application be deferred to the next meeting to allow for further discussions with the developer and clarification sought from planning officers in relation to the conditioned plans.
The Committee by majority
1 the application be deferred to allow residents to negotiate with the developers on the position of the proposed diversion; and
2 advice and clarity be sought from the planning officer regarding diversion which would/would not be in substantial compliance with the conditioned plans.