Agenda item

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Definitive Map Modification Order Investigation
Alignment of the Public Footpath along the Western Bank of the River Douglas and through/past Douglas Boatyard, Hesketh with Becconsall

Minutes:

A report was presented on an investigation into the correct alignment of footpaths FP0810046 and FP0816005, along the western bank of the River Douglas and the route through Douglas Boatyard, Hesketh with Becconsall.

 

The proposal was to delete from the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way, part of Footpaths FP0816005 and FP0810046 as shown between points A-B and B-C-D-E respectively on Committee Plan 2, and to add a footpath onto the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way, as shown between points A-X-E.

 

Committee's attention was drawn to an error on page 218 which should have read 'The route designated as the ECP (England Coast Path) was approved in August 2021'.

 

A revised Committee Plan 2 had been circulated to Committee which contained a slight amendment to the numbering of the sections of the route, although it was noted that the lines of the footpath to be deleted and footpath to be added, remained the same.

 

It was reported that, over a number of years, the alignment of the footpath recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement through Douglas Boatyard at Hesketh with Becconsall had been queried because it differed significantly from the walked line and was not consistent on successive maps.

 

The registered ownership of the boatyard had changed hands in 2021, coinciding with confirmation of the route being designated as part of the England Coast Path, recorded as passing through the boatyard on the route currently used by the public, but on a different route to that recorded as the public footpath on the Definitive Map and Statement.

 

The route designated as the England Coast Path had been approved in August 2021, and since 10thMay 2023 (and renamed King Charles III England Coast Path) had provided rights to the public to pass through the boatyard on foot, along the route shown with a solid line on Committee plan 1. These rights differed from those that existed along a route recorded as a public right of way (part of FP0816005 and FP0810046) which was shown as a dashed line between points A-F on the Committee plans.

 

The current landowner was concerned about the public passing right through the boatyard along the England Coast Path route, and about the public attempting to use the public footpath. Although the public were currently using the England Coast Path route, the landowner had stated he was opposed to the England Coast Path running through a working yard. There appeared to be no dispute that a public footpath did exist, but the issue is where exactly it ran.

 

It was reported that there was no map or documentary evidence supporting the Definitive Map route A-B-C-D-E as being the route of the public footpath acknowledged to exist between these two points, and that all the evidence examined indicated that it was the route shown on the Draft Map, shown as a thick dashed line A-X-E on Committee Plan 2, that most accurately reflected the historical route of the public footpath, along the river bank and passing through the boatyard.

 

Committee were informed that, should they be minded to approve the re-drawing of footpaths FP0810046 and FP0816005 in order to correct the Definitive Map, discussions could then take place with the landowner around diverting those public rights onto a route that was in the best interests of the landowner and the public. In addition, it was possible for Natural England to make a variation to the line of the England Coast Path, should they consider that an alternative route was more suitable in terms of public rights and the owner's use of the land.

 

Taking all the evidence into account, it was suggested to Committee it may be considered that there was sufficient cogent evidence to suggest that the route A-B-C-D-E was recorded in error and should be removed from the Definitive Map, and that the footpath on line A-X-E should be added to the Definitive Map. It was advised that the evidence was sufficient not only to satisfy the test to make the Orders, but also to promote the Orders to confirmation.

 

Resolved:

 

(i)  That an Order be made pursuant to Section 53 (2)(b) and Section 53 (3)(c)(iii) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to delete from the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way part of Footpath FP0816005 as shown on the Committee Plan 2 by a thick solid black line between points A-B and part of FP0810046 shown by a thick solid black line between points B-C-D-E.

 

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

 

(iii)  That an Order be made pursuant to Section 53 (2)(b) and Section 53 (3)(c)(i) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to add a footpath on the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way as shown on Committee Plan 2 by a thick dashed line between points A-X-E.

 

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

Supporting documents: