To consider the applications to upgrade Footpath No.13, Siddington, to Bridleway and upgrade part of Footpath No. 8, Siddington, to Bridleway.
The Committee considered a report which detailed an application to upgrade Public Footpath No.13 Siddington to Bridleway and upgrade part of Public Footpath No.8 Siddington to Bridleway.
Section 53(2)(b) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 required that the Council keep the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review and make such modifications to the Map and Statement as appears requisite in consequence of the occurrence of certain events.
Section 53 (3)(c) allowed the Authority to act on the discovery of evidence that suggests that the Definitive Map and Statement needed to be amended. The Authority must investigate and determine the evidence and decide on the outcome whether to make a Definitive Map Modification Order. The event relevant to the application was Section 53 (3)(c)(ii), which required modification of the map by change of status of a right of way:
“(c) discovery by the authority of evidence which (when considered with all other relevant evidence) shows:
(ii) that a highway shown in the map and statement as a highway of a particular description ought to be shown as a highway of a different description.”
The evidence could consist of documentary/historical evidence or user evidence or a mixture of both. All evidence had to be evaluated and weighed and a conclusion reached whether, on the ‘balance of probabilities’ the alleged rights subsist. Other issues such as safety, security, suitability, desirability or the effects on property or the environment were not relevant to the decision.
Where the evidence in support of the application was user evidence, section 31(1) of the Highways Act 1980 applied, which states:
“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 twenty year period was calculated retrospectively from the date when the right of the public to use the way was brought into question.
The application had been submitted in April 2005 by Pat Amies on behalf of Border Bridleways Association to amend the Definitive Map and Statement by upgrading part of Public Footpath No.8 and Public Footpath No. 13 in the parish of Siddington to bridleways. The applications were based on user and documentary evidence. As the two routes claimed were largely used in conjunction with one another via the interconnecting Restricted Byway No.12, the applications were considered together.
Investigation of the application for the upgrade of Public Footpath No.13 Siddington had revealed that the whole of the route was now recorded as an unclassified road. The section of Woodside Close that was of uncertain status had been the subject of a Highways Dedication agreement in 2005 between Macclesfield Borough Council, the landowner and Cheshire County Council. This added a section of highway between the already adopted part of Woodside Close and the part of Nursery Lane (Public Footpath No.13) which had been left as a cul de sac following the stopping up at Magistrates Court of part of the lane in 2003 due to the construction some time previously of a row of terraced bungalows on the line of the route.
The use of Footpath No. 8 (part) as a bridleway had been brought into question when the Captesthorne Estate deposited a Section 31(6) Statement and Map declaring that they had no intention to dedicate any additional rights except those shown on the map attached to the statement. This was made in 2008 and therefore the relevant twenty year period to be considered for user evidence was 1988 to 2008.
An investigation of the nine user evidence forms that had submitted had been undertaken, together with additional research on historical evidence of the route submitted.
The five copies of the County Maps submitted all showed Nursery Lane as a cross road but did not show Footpath No.8. The current status of Nursery Lane as an unclassified road was in keeping with these Maps. The Ordnance Survey Maps of 1870-71, 1897 and 1909 all showed Public Footpath No.8 as a track commencing from Restricted Byway No.12 and linking to Congleton Lane. The Ordnance Survey revised New Series 1897 showed a double dotted track which indicated an unfenced, unmetalled road. It was similarly depicted on Bartholomew’s Maps of 1902-06 and 1919-1924.
The original survey report for Siddington, which was used for the completion of the Definitive Map, showed the route as a footpath with a description of Cart Road for the first 85 yards. This corresponded with the length of the path up to its junction with Restricted Byway No.12.
The investigation of the user evidence submitted had showed that the claimed part of Public Footpath No.8 as a bridleway had been used for over a period of 30 years up to 2008 and that use had continued to the present day. None of the riders had been stopped or challenged whilst using the route nor had they seen any signs or notices to indicate that they should not ride there. All the witnesses interviewed commented that without the use of this part of Public Footpath No.8, the Restricted Byway would be redundant for use other than by pedestrians.
The tenant for Blake House Farm had objected to the proposal to upgrade the section of Public Footpath No.8 as they were concerned over Health and Safety implications of the narrow driveway being shared by horses, cars and farm machinery and that it would increase the rise of accidents occurring. A response had been sent stating the legal basis on which the application was decided and that no other factors such as suitability and safety could be taken into consideration.
The report concluded that on the balance of probabilities evidence supported the allegation that a bridleway subsists along the section of Public Footpath No.8 claimed and it was considered that the requirements of Section 53(3)(c)(ii) had been met.
The Committee considered the user and historical evidence submitted and the Definitive Map Officer’s conclusion and considered that there was sufficient evidence to support the existence of public bridleway rights on the route A-B of Public Footpath No.8 Siddington, as shown on Plan No.WCA/014. The Committee considered that, on the balance of probabilities, the requirements of Section 53(3)(c)(i) had been met and that the Definitive Map and Statement should be modified to add the claimed route as a Public Bridleway.
The Committee considered that, as the status of Nursery Lane which ran along the same alignment of Public Footpath No.13 Siddington and its connection to Woodside Close had now been verified as highways and that bridleway rights were in effect already recognised, the application to upgrade the path should be refused.
The Committee unanimously
1 an Order be made under Section 53(3)(c)(ii) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to modify the Definitive Map and Statement by upgrading to bridleway, that part of Footpath No.8 in the parish of Siddington as shown between points A-B on Plan No.WCA/014 (Application No.MA/5/233).
2 Public Notice of the making of the Order be given and, in the event of there being objections within the specified period or any objections received being withdrawn, the Order be confirmed in exercise of the power conferred on the Council by the said Act.
3 in the event of objections to the Order being received, Cheshire East Borough Council be responsible for the conduct of any hearing or public inquiry,
4 That the application to upgrade Public Footpath No.13 Siddington (Application No. MA/5/232) be refused on the grounds that there is an unclassified county road along the length of the claimed route, as shown between points A-B-C-D on Plan No.WCA/014(2)).