Agenda item

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Definitive Map Modification Order Investigation
Addition of Byway to the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery, Whalley


A report was presented on an application for the addition of a byway open to all traffic from Mitton Road to the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery, Calderstones, Whalley, 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.


A site inspection had been carried out in June 2022.


It was reported that map and documentary evidence supplied in support of the application was limited with no map or documentary evidence supporting the use of the route applied for as a public right of way.


Committee were informed that no route had existed prior to the construction of the cemetery site. One third of the site was the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery and two thirds was the Calderstones Hospital Cemetery. The Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery was accessed solely by the application route, through the Calderstones Hospital Cemetery site, and was managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


The whole cemetery site was consecrated ground. There was vehicular access at point A through the gates and a pedestrian gate; both gates were locked due to access in the past resulting in some vandalism of the site. The locked pedestrian gate displayed a sign stating that although staff were not available to provide access, if you required access to the war graves cemetery, the Calderstones Hospital reception held a key to the gate and a telephone number was provided.


Committee Members felt very strongly that members of the public needed access to the war graves and, after a discussion, it was clarified to Committee that everyone had access through private rights along the route to visit the graves, and that access could not be prevented.


With the agreement of the Chair, a telephone call was made to the number on the displayed sign and it was confirmed that the key to access the site was available at Calderstones Hospital reception. If the planned development of the site went ahead, access through the site was still guaranteed.


The Chair requested that officers ask the keyholder to update the sign to indicate the times when the key would be available. In addition, officers would make enquiries in relation to access through the locked vehicular gate.


The legal officer confirmed that the 1916 documentation referred to access to the cemetery being '….at all times and for all purposes connected with the use and enjoyment of the intended war memorial and cemetery'.


In conclusion, and having considered all of the evidence discovered, it was suggested to Committee that a dedication of a byway along the application route could neither be deemed under section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 nor inferred at common law. Committee was therefore advised to reject the application and not to make an Order adding this byway to the Definitive Map and Statement.


Resolved: That the application for the addition to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way of a byway open to all traffic from Mitton Road through Calderstones Cemetery to the Queen Mary's Military Hospital Cemetery, Whalley be not accepted.


The Chair informed Committee of a Heritage Weekend being hosted by Whalley Old Grammar School Community Centre 'A pictorial history of Calderstones through time' taking place on 17th and 18th September from 11.00am until 4.00pm.

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