Agenda item

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Definitive Map Modification Order Investigation
Addition of Footpath through Farington Hall Wood, Leyland


A report was presented on an application for the addition of a Footpath through Farington Hall Wood, Leyland, to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way, as shown on the Committee plan attached to the agenda papers between points A-B-C-D and E-F.


Site inspections had been carried out in February 2021 and March 2022. At the February 2021 site inspection, access to the woodland through which the route ran had been blocked by wooden fences at points A, C and F so it was not possible to walk the route. At the March 2022 site inspection, some of the fencing had been broken making access available at point A and at point C-D.


A variety of maps, plans and other documents had been examined to discover when the route came into being, and to try to determine what its status may be. A substantial amount of user evidence had been received for this application.


Map and documentary evidence, together with site photographs supplied as part of the application all confirmed that the full length of the application route existed, following the development of the site (housing on Bluebell Wood), with links to public highways at point A and point E, and that the route continued from point D along a network of paths through the woodland to the south east, which was managed privately as public open space.


The Committee were informed they were required to specifically consider the evidence presented as to whether public rights on the route existed or not and that account could not be taken of whether it was a pleasant route to walk.


County Councillor Howarth supported the Recommendation in the report stating that the route had previously been used as a public asset and a large amount of user evidence over a long period of time had been submitted.


In relation to County Councillor Cheetham's comments on the importance of bluebell preservation, the Officer stated that although the bluebells may attract members of the public to walk the route, Committee were only required to consider the context of this and whether it supported the user evidence.


Following a query from County Councillor Hennessy, it was reported that a new landowner had purchased a strip of woodland and installed fencing which had prevented public use of the route, prompting the application to be submitted. There had been no recorded public right of way when the landowner had purchased the land, which had been fenced off for the landowner's private use. Committee noted that if the application route was considered to be a public right of way, once the process had run it's full course, then the landowner would be required to remove the fences that obstructed the route where public rights had been established.


Taking all the evidence into account, Committee were advised that they may consider there to be sufficient evidence from which to infer dedication at common law, on balance from all the circumstances including the use by the public during the Chapeltown ownership and possibly even 2010-2020 when it was held by the Duchy. The recommendation was therefore that an Order be made and promoted to confirmation.




(i)  That the application for a footpath through Farington Hall Wood, Leyland be accepted.


(ii)  That an Order be made pursuant to Section 53 (2)(b) and Section 53 (3)(b) and/or] Section 53 (3)(c)(i) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to add footpaths through Farington Hall Wood on the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way as shown on Committee Plan between points A-B-C-D and E-F.


(iii)  That being satisfied that the higher test for confirmation can be met the Order be promoted to confirmation.




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