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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Planning Sub Committee (Public Rights of Way): 2nd April, 2014

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

Highways Act 1980 Section 119 Proposed Public Path Diversion Order Footpaths Nos.1 and 3 Gileston.

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To consider an application to divert part of the above path. The application is made by The Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Recommendation

That the Council, being the relevant highway authority for the affected footpath, proceed with making an order to divert parts of Footpaths Nos.1 and 3 Gileston, as described on order plan and schedule in Appendix A (supporting documents).

Reason for the Recommendation

Diversion of the paths is expedient in the interests of the landowners.

Background

2.         Footpath No.1 commences in Gileston village on the adopted highway which leads to the coast. The path heads westwards along a farm track through Gileston Farmyard; connecting to the rights of way network the path continues across fields to meet the coast at Summerhouse Bay. The path is promoted as part of the All Wales Coast Path.

3.         Footpath No.3 commences on the adopted highway to the north of Gileston village; heading south-westwards the path crosses an arable field, then entering a second field for a short stretch before joining footpath No.1 on the access track to Gileston Farmyard. The proposed change would follow the route used by walkers for many years, keeping closer to the field margin.

4.         The effect of the diversion of Footpath No.1 would be to move the footpath from the alignment A-B (bold line) to A-C-D-E-B (dashed line) as shown on the order map. The effect of the diversion of Footpath No.1 would be to move the footpath from the alignment F-G (bold line) to H-I-J-K-L-M(dashed line) as shown on the order map

5.         The order map and schedule are included describing the changes in greater detail in Appendix A (supporting documents).

6.         Consideration of this report was deferred at a meeting of the Planning Sub Committee (Public Rights of Way) on 26th February in order to allow the sub committee to undertake a site visit.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         In deciding whether to make a diversion order it is reasonable to consider both the tests for making the Order and for confirming the Order (R. (Hargrave) v. Stroud District Council [2002]). Even if all the tests are met, the council may exercise its discretion not to make the Order.

8.         Before making a diversion order it must appear to the Council that it is expedient to divert the path in the interests either of the public or of the owner, lessee or occupier of the land crossed by the path.

9.         The Authority must also be satisfied that the diversion order does not alter any point of termination of the path, other than to another point on the same path, or another highway connected with it, and which is substantially as convenient to the public.

10.      Before confirming an order, the Council, or the Secretary of State, if the order is opposed, must be satisfied that:

a)      The diversion is expedient in the interests of the person(s) stated in the order,

b)      The path will not be substantially less convenient to the public as a consequence of the diversion,

c)      It is expedient to confirm the order having regard to the effect it will have on public enjoyment of the path as a whole, on other land served by the existing path and on land affected by any proposed new path, taking into account the provision for compensation.

11.      Convenience should be interpreted as meaning ease of use, whereas enjoyment can take into account other factors such as the views to be enjoyed from the path or way.

12.      The current and proposed alignment of both paths crosses land which is not registered with Land Registry, The Land is owned by Mr Thomas, Gileston Farm. Mr Thomas has no objection to the proposal.

13.      Footpath No.1 passes through the yard of Gileston Farm, the diversion would move the path to the south of the yard, along the field margin of the adjacent fields. Footpath No.3 crosses an agricultural field, the diversion would move the path to the field margin.

14.      The path diversions retain connection to the same highways. The proposed alternative routes are no less convenient to the public

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.      The cost of diverting the path is being met by Coastal Access grant. 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

16.      None

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.      The power to make an order is discretionary only. No right of appeal exists against the Authority’s decision not to make an order.

Crime and Disorder Implications

18.      None

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

19.      None

Corporate/Service Objectives

20.      Determination of applications is pursuant to aims within the Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

Policy Framework and Budget

21.      This report is a matter for decision by the Planning Sub-Committee (Public Rights of Way)

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

22.      Consultations were issued on the 11th October 2013 and consultees invited to respond within 21 days. Results are as below

 

Consultee & Organisation

Comments / Reply

Bob Guy Operational Manager – Countryside & Economic Projects, VoG.

No Response

Geraint Davies, Legal Services, VoG

No Response

Erica Dixon, Ecologist, VoG

No objection

Marcus Goldsworthy, Operational Manager – Developmant Control, VoG.

No Response

Councillor J  W Thomas, VoG Ward Member

Supports the application

St Athan Community Council

No Response

National Grid Plant Protection

No Objection

National Power Plc

No Response

Openreach BT

No Objection

Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water

No Response

Virgin Media

No Objection

Vodaphone c/o Atkins Telecom

No Objection

Natural Resources Wales

No Response

British Horse Society

No Response

Byways and Bridleways Trust

No Response

CTC

No Response

Auto Cycle Union

No Response

Welsh Trail Riders Assn.

No Response

Open Space Society

No Response

The Ramblers Association

No Response

The Ramblers Association Wales

No Response

Ramblers Association – Vale of Glamorgan Group

No Response

Friends of the Earth

Late Response - Objection

Landowner

No Objection

Adjacent landowners

Objection

 

23.      Objections were received to the order and are available for inspection in in Appendix A (supporting documents). An first objection to the diversion of footpath No.3 was received from Ms Lorraine Garrad-Jones, Gileston Manor, Gileston. Ms Garrad-Jones and states:

Following your letter with details of the proposed diversion of footpath No.3 I wish to OBJECT as when I purchased my property 17 months ago the footpath was some distance from our boundary where I wish it to stay.

24.      Representations were also received from Mrs Garrad-Jones on 25th February 2014. These requested that the subcommittee consider the following:

I realise that footpath No 3, on the ground, has found its way to my boundary, however on a number of occassions we have encountered security issues with youngsters climbing onto, and on one occassion we know about, over our boundary and onto our land. We obviously cannot predict their intentions but at best it compromises our privacy and at worst compromises our security. Although we dealt with this one incident of trespass ourselves I can see us needing to call the police at some point in the future. If the footpath is formerly alongside our boundary however, the culprits will have a valid excuse for being there, and we and the police will be powerless to act. We therefore need to retain the right and powers to deal with any threat which may arise in future from any persons using the 'public footpath' as a cover for any threat they intend to pose.

 

I would therefore respectfully ask the sub-committee to leave the formal route of footpath No 3 exactly where it is now, some distance away from our boundary or alternatively to remove the footpath no 3 altogether from the field and re-route it through the village and the lane to the south of our land joining back up at point G on your plan.

 

25.      Diversion of the path is subject to the legal tests outlined above. These entitle a landowner to seek realignment of a path on their land so long as it is in their interest to do so. This is balanced against requirements that the new path not be substantially less convenient to the public and that regard is given to the effect the diversion will have on public enjoyment of the path as a whole, on other land served by the existing path and on the land over which the right is created and any land held with it.

26.      The proposed diversion of the path aligns the legally recorded position of the path with the one that is available on the ground at present.  The path will remain in the same land ownership, being the agricultural field, and the title associated with Gileston Manor would not be directly affected. The boundary that the path would move closer to does not abut onto residential properties or curtilages thereof but instead contains woodland, a walled garden and small field. The detriment to neighbouring landowners therefore appears negligible.

27.      Following the committee of 26th February a response was also received from Mr Max Wallis of Barry and Vale Friends of the Earth. The response is attached and reads:

 

In response to your letter r21.1/G1-1 and3, we do wish to enter an objection.

 

We note a) that the route of Footpath 1 is the Wales Coastal Path and b) the proposal is to close Footpath 3 with no compensation. 

 

Footpath 3 is a link in off-road footpaths from St Athan and the B4625 to the coastal Path.  As it largely follows boundaries, we see no significant reason for the Council wanting to abandon this public amenity. 

 

Footpath 1 is a track suitable for cyclists up to Gileston Farm.  Coastal Path policy is to adapt sections for cycling and wheelchair use when this can be done readily. Adapting for wheelchair use would be "reasonable adjustment" under the Equalities Act.  The proposed diversion C-D-E appears to worsen the provision.  Only if upgraded to cycling/wheelchair use could it be accepted.

 

The continuation westwards of Footpath 1 to Penry Bay and on to Summerhouse Point could without over-much difficulty also be made suitable for cyclists and wheelchairs.  This would complete a very useful 'leisure' cycleway via Boverton Mill Farm through to Boverton.  It would be a good link for Gileston people to cycle to Llantwit Major, which the Council designates as their nearest town.  The link therefore merits inclusion in the network around Llantwit Major under the Active Travel Act.

 

We therefore objection to the proposed diversion unless it is made cycle/wheelchair accessible, secondly unless the whole lane to point E/B and is designated for cycling and maintained at a standard suitable for wheelchair use, and thirdly the Coastal Path westwards from Gileston Farm is designated open for cyclists as far as it's in the ownership of the farmer.

 

We'd be willing should you wish to assist in discussions with the farmer on these requirements and would consult with other disability and cycling interest groups.

 

28.      In relation to Footpath 3 the objection is factually incorrect. The proposal is not to close Footpath 3. The Footpath does not currently follow boundaries but the proposal is to align it so that it does.

29.      In relation to Footpath 1 the proposal is for diversion of a public footpath. No rights for cycling currently exist on the route. It is not agreed that the continuation westwards, which crosses farmland and a shingle beach before ascending steps to the clifftop is appropriate for cycling or wheelchair use. The tests to be satisfied are those for expediency and that the new path will not be substantially less convenient for public use, the requirements for improvement outlined within the objection would set the bar significantly higher than this.  

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

30.      None.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Sandra Thomas, Public Rights of Way Assistant, Countryside and Economic Projects - Tel 01446 704705.

Officers Consulted:

Officers consulted in relation to proposals as above

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas – Director of Development Services

 

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