Agenda item

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Definitive Map Modification Order Investigation
Addition of Bridleway and Upgrading of Footpath known as Sod Hall Lane, South Ribble

Minutes:

A report was presented on an application for the addition of bridleway and upgrading of 7-1-FP50 and 7-1-FP51 (Sod Hall Lane) 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-E-F-G-H.

 

A site inspection had been carried out in January 2022.

 

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.

 

Committee were informed that the investigation had been carried out based entirely on historical map and documentary evidence with no modern user evidence – or details indicating historical public use on horseback – having been submitted.

 

It was reported that a lot of map and documentary evidence had been examined although there were some documents that would have been useful to find and there were a number of inconsistencies in the records located which made it difficult to decide on balance whether bridleway or public vehicular rights existed.

 

The application was in relation to whether the route carried higher rights than the footpath it was currently recorded as and the legislation required that, to make an Order, a bridleway or restricted byway was found to subsist on balance.

 

Committee noted that there was no user evidence presented and so the evidence considered was historical documentation and whether there was sufficient evidence from which to infer, on balance, that the owner of this old route across the Moss intended the route to be more than a footpath open to the public for use without permission, force or secrecy.

 

On balance, and given the nature of the evidence, Committee were advised that the evidence of it having become a higher status for the public was insufficient. Committee were reminded that, if there were tolls paid to use this route, payment of a toll (whilst the route showed as being available to the public) would be use with permission, and a toll required yet not paid would probably be use by force. The Recommendation was therefore that no Order be made on the basis of the evidence available.

 

County Councillor Towneley stated that the route had not been stopped up, that toll use demonstrated that public use would have been expected and that there was no obvious deviation. County Councillor Towneley therefore considered there was a high probability that this had always been a public route with higher rights than a footpath.

 

Committee were informed that there had been a barrier at Sod Hall to collect tolls, as shown in the photograph provided and as shown as TP on Ordnance Survey maps. The Tithe records also showed the central section of the route as a private road and railway records referred to it as an occupation road with private ownership. It was reported that officers had examined a large amount of historical evidence and had concluded that, although finely balanced, there had not been enough evidence to indicate that higher rights existed.

 

County Councillor Towneley stated that if this was a public road maintainable at private expense, she would have expected at that time that the landowners would have either constructed an alternative route which would have been handed over to the local authority, or would have purposefully blocked the route if they had not wanted the public to use it. Although a barrier may have been present at some point, County Councillor Towneley considered that this did not negate the fact that since, before and during that period, no further action had been taken to stop the public using the route.

 

It was therefore Proposed and Seconded that:

 

'The Recommendation in the report be refused and that the application for the addition of bridleway and upgrading of 7-1-FP50 and 7-1-FP51 (Sod Hall Lane) to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way be approved.'

 

County Councillor Salter confirmed that Committee had considered all the evidence in detail and referred specifically to point A through to just beyond point G being excluded from the Finance Act taxation process in the early 1900s, and suggested that this may have been an indication it was a public vehicular route and confirmed that Committee had previously made decisions based on Finance Act evidence. County Councillor Salter added that, looking at the evidence, Committee may consider that the route carried higher rights of restricted byway, and asked whether this was something Committee could look at. David Goode confirmed that Committee could consider this, based on the evidence presented, and added that the effect of the Natural Environment and Communities Act would have removed any carriageway rights for mechanically propelled vehicles along the route.

 

Following confirmation to Committee of the specific definitions for bridleway and restricted byway, after a discussion, County Councillor Towneley considered that higher rights than bridleway existed and withdrew her original Proposal. Based on the evidence presented in the application, it was therefore Proposed and Seconded that:

 

'The Recommendation in the report be refused and that the addition of restricted byway and upgrading of 7-1-FP50 and 7-1-FP51 (Sod Hall Lane) to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way be approved.'

 

Upon being put to the Vote, the Motion was Carried.

 

Resolved:

 

(i)  That the Recommendation in the report be refused.

 

(ii)  That an Order(s) be made pursuant to Section 53 (2)(b) and Section 53(3)(c)(i) and (ii) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to record on the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way a restricted byway and upgrading to restricted byway of 7-1-FP50 and 7-7-FP51 (Sod Hall Lane), as shown between points A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H on the Committee plan.

 

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

 

 

Supporting documents: