Agenda item

WILDLIFE & COUNTRYSIDE ACT 1981 - SECTION 53 APPLICATION TO ADD A PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY AT BRAMPTON IN THE PARISH OF LONG MARTON: DISTRICT OF EDEN

[Electoral Division: Appleby]

 

To consider a report from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure

Minutes:

A report was considered from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure regarding the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Section 53 Application to add a public right of way at Brampton in the parish of Long Marton: district of Eden. The report advised that an application had been received to add a section of public bridleway adjacent to Midtown Farm, Brampton in the Parish of Long Marton to the County Council’s Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way.  The plan at Appendix A of the report showed the path to be added and a location plan was also attached at Appendix C of the report. The purpose of the report was to present Members with the evidence regarding the use of the route, and for a decision to be made whether to proceed with the next stage of the process by making a legal order.

The Countryside Access Officer presented the background to the application and a plan showing the route. He showed an overhead image of the area. Members were shown other rights of way in the area and the public bridleway to be added. He reported on the 32 rights of way evidence forms that had accompanied the application.

A member referred to the lack of evidence of bicycles using the route and talked about the status of the route. The Countryside Access Officer advised on recent legislation used to determine the status of a route. It was raised by a member that the footpath appeared to go around the outside of the farmyard. The Countryside Access Officer agreed that the path historically went around the farm and not through the yard but that recent development and removal of a wall had caused the path to now be included within the curtilage of the development.

Following a member question on who would maintain the surface of the public bridleway, the Countryside Access Officer stated that surface maintenance would be undertaken by Cumbria County Council and to a standard equivalent to the condition of the route when the application was made.

The position of the present day gates were identified for the Committee and clarification was provided that the site had previously been a working farm but was now a housing development site into which the claimed path had been merged. Clarification was also provided by the Countryside Access Officer that evidence of use was ‘implied’ from the landowner for two users whilst the majority of other users had not been given permission.

The people indicated below had attended the meeting to speak, or asked a representative to speak on their behalf, under the Public Participation Scheme. 

1       Councillor A Connell – Local Member

 

(Read out by the Manager Development Control and Countryside Management)

 

I wrote about this to relevant Council officers in November 2018.  It was clear that there was a general local demand to add a public right of way because the status of the existing route was ambiguous and a landowner had been blocking access. I am sorry that I didn’t respond to Sandra Smith’s attachment; I believed that, in the absence of any objection to the proposal of which I was aware, the matter was settled. I think the addition of a right of way is a good solution, and that no objections from residents have been raised with me.

 

2       A Todd

 

It is difficult to understand as to why I’m stood here, attempting to justify that the lane passing Midtown Farm is a continuation of the Back Lane, which Lowis Lane joins, these are already classed as bridleways.

 

It has been a lane since 1838, as the Tithe map shows, it is clearly shown on all the ordnance survey maps that have been produced over the years.  

The lane is an established lane, having stone sets all the way around the area in question, as has the rest of the lane. 

 

It would appear there has never been any obstruction during this time, no gates, as there are no gate stoops along these lanes, no fences of any description blocking the lane.

 

Where Lowis Lane and the Back Lane meet, there is no barrier across the Back Lane and no evidence of there ever being one.

 

I’m now in my 70’s and I am the third generation living at Ivy House, the Back Lane has always been used, by horse and cart in the early days, latterly tractors and quad bikes.  Walkers, cyclists and horse riders have always used the lane.  Being an equestrian and livery centre, I take more notice of the amount of horses who use the back lane, to which there are many.

 

The Public Bridleway sign, at the corner of Pearson Lane, clearly points up the Back Lane and therefore the Back Lane is naturally used and has been used as a footpath and bridleway, past Midtown Farm, by many local people and visitors alike, over many, many years.

 

It is hard to understand as to why the beneficiaries of Midtown Farm have attempted to destroy this lane, stating no-one uses it, unfortunately they have not lived in Brampton since the 1960’s and do not realise how much the local community use it, including the elderly of the village as it is not too far to walk in a round route, those who stay at the caravan site at Croft Ends or those who live in Appleby, walk through to join Wood Lane which takes them up through Dufton Ghyl and joins the Pennine Way.

 

The same can be said about horse riders, this lane enables riders to keep off the busy roads and safely join other routes.  The roads are getting busier and busier with faster cars and bridleways are a safer way of riding.  

 

3       C Cheyne

 

My interest in and enjoyment of using paths and rights of way stem from my family upbringing where my father was a lawyer in Edinburgh and for many years chairman of The Scottish Rights of Way Society (now Scotways). In this capacity he had been involved in many cases and as a family we often visited locations and father would describe the history and relevance of routes.

 

My knowledge and use of the route being examined today commenced in 1984 when as a Licensee in Appleby I visited Bill Rumney who was the proprietor of The New Inn, Brampton. At this time I spent much free time exploring and walking in the area including having used the route in question.

 

John Sowerby for over 40 years at Banks View, Brampton, my wife’s cousin, has told me on many occasions the history of the village and its historical routes; so, when we moved to Brampton in 2014, I enjoyed exploring the paths and bridleways. The one used most days by myself was the one around the side and back of Midtown Farm. It was obvious this had been used for horse and cart traffic for over 200 years as you could see the original stone cobbles under the grassy surface and the original boundary dry stone walls would date from the same period. John and his father before him used the back lane round the side of Midtown Farm frequently through the fifties and up to date.

 

Our concern for addressing environmental issues should mean that we understand and respect the benefits old routes contribute to permitting wild-life to move freely and also where they have significant links to the heritage of communities, especially where the local people show strongly that they have used the routes and see any restriction a major detriment to village life.

 

4       A Potter

 

I am Chairman of Long Marton Parish Council, which I have served for over 14 years, 10 years of that as Chairman.

 

Living in the neighbouring village of Long Marton for all 55 years of my life, I have when I was younger walked, cycled and played occasionally with school friends in Brampton Village and on the associated footpath/bridleway in question.

 

Many of my colleagues representing their respective wards of Long Marton Parish Council in particularly the following:

 

Councillor Holdsworth has 58 years close association with Brampton living there most of his life, can also recollect using and playing with school friends in the area mentioned.

 

Councillor Cannon has 70+ years knowledge of the area and living in the Brampton area all his life, can confirm regular use of horses and horse drawn vehicles, tractors, motorcycles and cyclists and walkers.

 

Councillor Sowerby has 60+ years knowledge of the area and spending most of her youth living in Brampton, can also recollect using the said footpath/bridleway.

 

The beneficiaries stated in a public meeting that they held title deeds to the footpath/bridleway in question.  As I chaired the meeting, I requested that the beneficiaries presented proof of this document to the Parish Council but to date, no such proof has been provided to us.

 

Finally, I have been saddened to hear reports of Brampton residents, old and young having a barrage of insults, intimidation and verbal abuse hurled at them when doing what they have always done; walking and enjoying their country constitutional on the same footpath/bridleway as they have done for many years.

 

5       J Bellas

 

1             Having Purchased some of the land at Mid-Town Farm, from the beneficiaries, with the beneficiaries” claiming to own “the stretch of lane from the corner to the main road. It was agreed by both Parties that I/We would have a right of way, via Back Lane to our land for :-

i.              The movement of livestock

ii.            Unrestricted access for Motor and Agricultural vehicles

 

We used the said right of way right from day 1 as we have other land to the South of Brampton enabling us to check or stock in a loop direction back to the farm, however on 11th August 2019 we discovered 2 locked gates blocking the Back Lane in both directions, therefore making the usual route impossible, adding both valuable time, extra fuel and access to our land for us or emergency veterinary very difficult.

I can produce document JB1, clearly showing our Right of Way, which is signed by the Beneficiaries.

2.         The back Lane has been used for many years by responsible dog walkers, whilst we are lambing in the fields behind our farm during April and May each year, as an alternative to the footpath which runs through the fields in which we lamb our ewes. This sadly is no longer an option as the locked gates and intimidating signs which the beneficiaries have erected, with threats of prosecution to “Trespassers” will no doubt have an impact on our sheep.

3.         Having lived and worked at Croft Ends all my life I have used Back Lane to walk to the pub, which I no longer do as its almost a mile further to walk along an unlit road at night on which vehicles travel at alarming speeds. sadly, this will not only affect my wellbeing through lack of social interaction but also the village pub which relies on local trade.

4.         We at Croft Ends operate a CL touring caravan site and the Back lane was used by our visitors daily to walk to

I. The Pennine way

ii. Dufton

iii The New Inn

6       C Kipling

 

Mr Kipling made the following points:

 

·         He knew the former owner who had never mentioned any restrictions, and that they would talk frequently,

·         He had used the lane twice daily with his dog but the use of the lane was now hindered by the erection of gates across the bridleway

·         The demolition of the boundary wall between the land of Midtown Farm and the bridleway appeared to be an offence of theft, anyone taking land that is not theirs is a misappropriation of property. The land grab was therefore an illegal act

·         He urged members to take into consideration how the changes had affected the local people in a negative way.

 

7       C Grimes

 

I have been resident in Brampton for over 22 years, having moved here in August 1997.

 

From the outset, I used the sections of lane in question, initially on foot at least weekly and occasionally on horseback then, for over 13 years (since acquiring a dog) at least twice weekly and often on a daily basis. This was until the erection of the first barrier across the lane on 11 August 2018.

 

I continued to use the route whenever the barriers were removed or unlocked. This has not been possible recently, since the installation of a double padlocked gate and more barbed wire.

 

Not once did I see any notice inviting other landowners to come forward. The No Entry sign and the notice erroneously threatening ‘trespassers’ with a criminal record only went up after the barbed wire fence was replaced by a metal gate. A CCTV camera was removed when it was illegally pointed into a house.

 

The landowners have also removed a boundary wall between points B and C on your map. The land has been left to grow wild so that now it looks as though the lane between these points is actually part of the adjacent field. However Long Marton Parish Council is in receipt of a letter from the landowner’s solicitors, admitting that they don’t own that section. A recent planning application refers to it still being for agricultural use but there is a planning application in for housing.

 

Until we were physically prevented from using the track (those who hadn’t been put off by the verbal abuse and intimidating behaviour of a representative of the landowners), I frequently met other walkers, horse riders, residents of Brampton, Croft Ends and Long Marton, holiday makers and those en route to The New Inn and Dufton.

 

Conversations with neighbours indicate that the blocking of this track is having a detrimental effect on local tourist industry businesses.

 

The previous owner of Midtown Farm frequently spoke to me as I used this lane. He never questioned or challenged my access even though we occasionally conversed about farming and fields etc. Whilst he was alive, the beneficiaries of his estate had also, over a number of years, seen me and others use the lane and never once challenged me or others or even mentioned the issue or the possibility of denying access.

 

There has been intimidating behaviour and the neighbours say that blocking the route has had a detrimental effect on holiday makers in the area.

 

8       A Armstong (read by A Todd)

I am writing in support of residents and Long Marton parish council as the representative on Eden District Council for Long Marton Ward of which the village of Brampton is in.

I have talked and listened to many local residents who have used the footpath/bridleway for as long as they can recall.

On a personal note my wife, a local and a keen horsewoman all her life, has been using the bridleway since 1984.

 

At the close of public participation for this item, the Chair invited questions from members.

 

Mr English declared that he had used the path for forty years when visiting the local pub and walking his dog and had never been impeded from using the route. He highlighted that the travelling community may use the path during Appleby Fair.

 

A member asked Mr Todd whether the path existed on tithe maps, whether it was recorded as a lane or was designated on other maps. Mr Todd was unsure but stated that as third generation living at Ivy House there had never been a gate. The Countryside Access Officer stated that as 32 evidence forms alleged use of the path between 1 and 71 years, this passed the ‘reasonably alleged’ test and therefore it was unnecessary for Officers to refer to historical maps at this stage of the process.

 

A member referred to the path being a historic feature of the area and was concerned about the stone wall being moved. In understanding the concerns raised, the Countryside Access Officer explained that the removal of walls adjacent to the track was not material to the legal claim of the path and the County Council had no authority to address the action. The local District Council Planning Department had the powers of enforcement with regard to the situation.

 

Mr Markley moved the recommendations, as set out in the report, which was seconded by Mr Fisher. In support of the motion, a member highlighted that in general, it was irrelevant that landowners claimed paths because they owned the land because most rights of way were on private land and many paths were used for generations without permission.

 

The Countryside Access Officer confirmed that it was, as yet, unknown whether the new properties to be built would have access onto the right of way. In response to a member question about restoring the width, the maintenance of and restoring the path, the Countryside Access Officer explained the process and advised that the width and any limitations would be recorded and included in the legal order. In terms of rebuilding the wall, this would be a planning matter and not for the Committee to consider.

 

A vote was cast as follows, 17 members in favour, 0 against and 0 abstentions. Therefore, it was

 

RESOLVED that,

 

1             Members authorise the Chief Legal Officer to make an order under section 53(3) (c) (i) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the effect of which would be to add a section of public bridleway at Brampton in the parish of Long Marton shown A-B-C on the plan at Appendix A of the report to the County Council’s Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way.

 

2             If objections are received with significant new evidence against the made order then the Council should from then on take a neutral stance.

 

3             If there are no objections to the made order Members authorise the Chief Legal Officer to confirm the order.

 

A 5 minute recess took place at 10.50am

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