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Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Report to Planning Sub Committee (Public Rights of Way): 28th April, 2016

 

Report of the Head of Regeneration and Planning

 

Highways Act 1980 section 26 Proposed Public Path Creation Order Footpath No.61 Llantwit Major

 

Purpose of the Report

1.                To consider whether to create a new public footpath, No.61 Llantwit Major, by means of creation order.

Recommendation

1.                That the Council, being the relevant highway authority proceed with making the order to create proposed footpath No.61 Llantwit Major, as described in the attached order plan and schedule (Appendix 1) and, subject to no objections being received, to confirm the order.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. The footpath is required to provide a suitable footpath link between existing highways for the benefit of persons resident in the area, 563 of whom have signed a petition calling for the route to be formalised with further individual letters of support received. The proposed route follows an informal track already used and provides a link between Boverton and Public Footpath 3, Llantwit Major which leads to the Wales Coast Path at Summerhouse Point.

Background

  1. The effect of the order would be to add a public footpath to the Definitive Map.
  2. Footpath No.61 would commence at Boverton Mill Farm at the termination of the adopted highway. The path would proceed south-south-eastwards following the alignment of Mill Lane, an un-adopted track, to terminate at its junction with public footpath No.3 Llantwit Major, which continues southwards to its junction with the Wales Coast Path.
  3. The order map and schedule are included describing the changes in greater detail (Appendix 1).
  1. The section of path in question is not currently recorded as public in any capacity and as such no clear rights exist along it upon which the public can rely.
  2. Licence agreements have previously been in place in relation to a car park at the end of lane and though use continues in practice the agreements have expired.
  3. Formalisation of the link has significant support from local residents. A petition that runs to 563 names in support of the route in addition to accompanying letters from a further 9 individuals have previously been submitted. The issue is also brought up regularly at Llantwit Major Town Council Footpath Forum meetings. It is understood that the Town Council has been attempting to secure provision of the route for some time.
  4. Efforts have previously been made to conclude creation of the route by agreement however difficulties have been encountered in demonstrating ownership of title across much of the lane. This is with the exception of a short piece alongside Boverton Mill at the northern end of the lane and a further short section between B-C.
  5. The report currently being considered follows the deferral of a decision by the Planning Sub Committee (Public Rights of Way) of 17th March in order to undertake a site visit.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. In deciding whether to make an order it is reasonable to consider both the tests for making the Order and for confirming the Order. Even if all the tests are met, the Council may exercise its discretion not to make the Order.
  2. Before making a creation order under the Highways Act 1980 Sec.26 it must appear to the Council that a path or way is needed and that it is expedient for a way to be created. In doing so authorities must have regard to the extent to which ways would add to:
  • The convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public; or
  • The convenience of persons resident in the area.
  • In both cases the effect that the creation would have on the rights of persons interested in the land should be considered, subject to account being taken of the Act's provisions as to compensation (HA 1980, s28). Authorities should also have regard to the needs of:
  • Agriculture (including breeding or keeping horses).
  • Forestry.
  • The desirability of conserving flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features.
  1. Before confirming an order, the Council, or the Welsh Government if the order is opposed, must be satisfied that the tests listed above have been met.
  2. In the current case the path is needed to provide a link between existing highways and is expedient in the absence of other formal rights. The path would add both to the convenience or enjoyment of a substantial section of the public and to the convenience of persons in the area from which there is significant support. In the case of a substantial section of the public the path would ensure a link is available from Boverton to the Wales Coast Path, an internationally promoted long distance trail, and would therefore form a valuable addition to the tourism offer of the area.
  1. Where ownership rights are demonstrated, the Council has agreed or budgeted for compensation to reflect the detriment, if any, of the addition of rights.
  2. No agriculture, forestry or conservation issues arise.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Reasonable costs of the Public Path Order process will be met from existing revenue funding for Public rights of Way, though where grant funding is available, as is anticipated, order costs will be met through this.
  2. An external valuer has been commissioned to provide an initial assessment of potential compensation.
  3. A figure for compensation has been informally agreed with one land owner. Discussions with others who claim an interest in the remaining sections of the lane have been undertaken with a view to concluding creation by agreement however no proof of title has been demonstrated across the remainder of A-B. Ownership of B-C is registered though no compensation has yet been agreed. Further claims for compensation may therefore be received, including on those sections that are currently unregistered, within 6 months of confirmation of the order if title is able to be demonstrated. Any offer of compensation will be made, taking into account the independent preliminary advice. Whilst authority is being sought to make the order, this will only be progressed if compensation is deemed to be affordable, and formal agreements will be sought in advance to minimise risk.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The creation of the footpath would support health and sustainability aims linked to the promotion of walking and physical activity. The link would facilitate travel onto and along the Wales Coast Path.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. 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

  1. None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Extensive public consultation was carried out prior to the publication of the Council's Rights of Way Improvement Plan, a requirement of which was to have specific regard to the accessibility of local rights of way to blind or partially sighted persons and those with mobility problems.
  2. Access to the network of rights of way in the Vale is restricted for people with disabilities and less mobile users in many places due to the nature of the surfacing, the types of gates and stiles, a lack of information about routes, and the lack of associated facilities e.g. parking, toilets.
  3. The aims in relation to people with disabilities and less mobile users within the Vale of Glamorgan's Rights of Way Improvement Plan are:
  1. To ensure that the Vale has a network which is welcoming to and fit for all different types of users
  2. To implement the principle of least restrictive access, wherever practicable
  1. The path proposed to be created in the current order has no significant gradient and is of a stone surface between A-B and earth between B-C. The continuation of the path along Public Footpath 3, Llantwit, is more restrictive than the proposed creation route and maintenance to its existing standard is therefore appropriate in the context of the area. No structures that would cause a limitation to access are proposed.

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Consultations were issued on the 2nd April 2015 and consultees invited to respond within 28 days. Results are as below

Consultee & Organisation

Comments / Reply

Internal Departmental Consultations, VoG.

No outstanding observations

Councillor Eric Hacker, VoG Ward Member

Support

Councillor Gwyn John, VoG Ward Member

Support

Councillor Edward Williams, VoG Ward Member

Support

Llantwit Major Town Council

No response

National Grid Plant Protection

No response

National Power Plc

No response

Openreach BT

No response

Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water

No response

Virgin Media

No objection

Vodaphone c/o Atkins Telecom

No objection

Natural Resources Wales

No objection

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 Spaces Society

No response

The Ramblers Association

No response

The Ramblers Association Wales

No response

Ramblers Association - Penarth and District Group

No response

Ramblers Association - Bridgend Group

No response

Ramblers Association - Vale of Glamorgan Group

No response

Friends of the Earth

No response

 

Landowners and adjacent landowners by Land Registry Title Number:

CYM548548 - The Cottage

Objection

CYM212641- Woodland View WA103725

No response

CYM559755

No response

CYM609920

No response

WA280222

No response

CYM123745 - Hafod

No response

CYM57196 - Boverton Place Farm

No response

CYM66867 - Boverton Mill Buildings

No response

CYM282225

No response

WA343336 - 2 Mill Cottage

No response

WA556548 - 1 Boverton Mill Cottage

No response

WA507287 - 1 Mill Cottage

No response

WA595597

No response

WA570536 - Mill House

No response

CYM361309

No response

CYM207585

See para. 30 below

CYM66863

No response

WA248686

No comment

CYM290933

No response

CYM57196

No response

   
  1. Further representations were also received either as late submissions to the meeting of the sub-committee on 17th March or as correspondence following the meeting.
  2. The proposal affects land not in the Council's ownership. The majority of the lane is unregistered with Land Registry (Appendix 2). A short section of the proposed route crosses land within Land Registry Title No. CYM207585 at Boverton Mill Farm.
  3. One owner of registered property has been contacted by the Public Rights of Way team and a compensation offer has been provisionally agreed.
  4. The lane appears to provide access to a number of properties/parcels of agricultural land; the owners of these properties have been contacted as part of the consultation process. The application initially received two objections from interested parties although the Council has been verbally advised of an intention to remove one of those objections.

Objection One (Appendix 3)

  1. The objection was submitted at pre-order consultation and reiterated within a late submission prior to the meeting of 17th March. Whilst the submission was made by reference to the position of the Objection Two landowner (who has since indicated an intention to allow the creation), no further updates have been received. The correspondence is therefore considered in the form it was previously received.
  2. The concerns appear to relate to maintenance of the section B-C and to the need to establish ownership of A-B.
  3. Public Footpath 3 forms part of the Council's existing annual clearance contract which ensures two cutbacks of vegetation are carried out on priority routes each year. Should the section B-C be created it would be subject to the same arrangement.
  4. It is agreed that ownership of the remaining section, with the exception of Land Registry Title No. CYM207585 adjoining Boverton Mill and Land Registry Title No WA103725 between B-C, is unclear. Efforts have been made to attempt to agree dedication of the unregistered section of route with the claimed land owners, since June 2012 however proof of title has not been forthcoming. Creation by order does not require proof of title, although if owners are able to demonstrate it they may be entitled to compensation.

Objection Two (Appendix 4)

  1. The owner of Land Registry Title No WA103725 between B-C claims an interest in the rest of the unregistered lane and previously objected to the order on the basis that they were not prepared to allow access over their land.
  2. Following the meeting of 17th March it was indicated following further discussions that the previous objection was to be removed. This has not yet been confirmed in writing and therefore previous correspondence is included for completeness.

Further representations and support

  1. A further representation to the sub-committee of 17th March was received relating to procedural issues and previous cases though containing no substantial points relevant to consideration of the current case.
  2. Correspondence supporting the order has been received from Vale of Glamorgan Ramblers (Appendix 5), Cllr John (Appendix 6), Cllr Williams (Appendix 7) and Llantwit Major Town Council (Appendix 8) who also provide evidence of support previously received from the Friends of Glamorgan Heritage Coast (Appendix 9) and Alun Cairns MP (Appendix 10).

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Gwyn Teague, Public Rights of Way Officer, Regeneration

Officers Consulted

Committee reports, Legal Services

Bob Guy - Operational Manager for Regeneration Carolyn Michael - Operational Manager Accountancy

Responsible Officer:

Marcus Goldsworthy - Head of Regeneration and Planning

 

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