[Electoral Divisions: Millom]
To consider a report from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure
A report was considered from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure. The report advised that an application had been received to add a section of public footpath at Haverigg Pool in the parish of Millom. The purpose of the report was to present Members with the evidence regarding 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 made his presentation using plans and photographs.
The Chair asked that if the application was rejected, the landowner be advised that clear notices should be displayed on the route. The Countryside Access Officer stated this would be the case. The EPW - Lead Lawyer confirmed that the landowner had supplied a barrister’s opinion via his solicitor and it was the responsibility of the landowner’s legal team to advise their client in connection with this matter.
The Local Member who had lived in the area for a long time thanked the Countryside Access Officer for his diligent work and commented on the poor signage that had been erected by the landowner. He stated that the footpath had been regularly used.
The Countryside Access Officer clarified that the claim was recommended for rejection as it fell short of the twenty years test.
A member asked if footpath 415009 linked to the holiday park. This was confirmed by the Countryside Access Officer who added that the restricted byway joined onto the network.
Another member asked about the previous claim to the Planning Inspectorate and whether the restricted byway had always been there. The Countryside Access Officer explained the previous claim to the Planning Inspectorate, the routes to members and what routes were added to the Definitive Map. He also explained what a restricted byway was. He reiterated that the evidence did not pass the twenty year statutory test.
The same member referred to the letter from Burnetts solicitors dated 19 April 2017 where it was stated that this was a last ditch attempt by residents to stop the development. The Countryside Access Officer advised that facts were used to arrive at a recommendation and that he could not give personal opinion on the background to the history between the applicant and residents.
It was confirmed that the applicant could request a review if the Committee agreed to reject the application and the decision could be overturned. The Countryside Access Officer talked about how he thought that this would not be the case from the evidence he had seen. The EPW - Lead Lawyer stated that the pursuit of the objection at the Public Inquiry in 2011 indicated there had been no intention to dedicate the route at that time.
A member talked about the importance of the statutory test and a landowner’s objection to a Right of Way. He referred to the decision of theRights of Way inspector from the Planning Inspectorateand how there wasn’t enough evidence in 2011. Sixteen people evidenced that they had used it for more than twenty years but the definitive objection was the 2011 Public Inquiry. He asked if that decision bound the Committee.
The Countryside Access Officer explained how the pursuit of the objection at Public Inquiry negated the evidence and the claim started again at 2011. He acknowledged that signs appeared to have been erected by the landowner’s representative to attempt to negate a claim but he was of the opinion that they would carry little evidential weight as they were poorly located. A member highlighted that that the members’ decision had to be based on evidence.
The EPW - Lead Lawyer highlighted that the Planning Inspector’s decision was a red herring. He added that in 2011 there was a distinct lack of intent by the landowner to dedicate the route.
A member queried the timescales involved in the application. The EPW - Lead Lawyer confirmed that the pertinent date was the Public Inquiry in 2011 and a further nine years of evidence was required to fulfil the twenty years statutory test.
Mr Morgan moved the recommendation as set out in the report. This was seconded by Mr Hamilton.
The Chair moved to the vote which was cast as follows: 13 in favour of the motion, 0 against and 1 abstention (Mr Bingham requested a named abstention).
RESOLVED that, the application to add a public right of way at Haverigg Pool in the parish of Millom be rejected.
There was a 5 minute recess at 11.05am