The Committee considered a report by the Corporate Director for Economic Growth and Infrastructure that considered whether or not to submit a Public Path Diversion Order to the Secretary of State for confirmation further to representations received and also the stance that Dorset Council should take if this were to be submitted.
The application was presented by Mr Paul Hopkins of Countryside Access Management Ltd.
Members were shown a location plan and photographs of the footpaths and bridleway to be diverted, three of which had been dedicated as public rights of way by the developer on the advice of Dorset Council. These paths were the subject of a separate application to add them to the definitive map of public rights of way by means of a modification order under section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The Diversion Order had been made on 26 June 2020 and a notice of the Order advertised in the local press and posted on the site of the footpaths. Six objections had been received, one of which had subsequently been withdrawn. The main issues raised by the outstanding 5 objectors and associated officer comments were outlined below.
· The proposed paths would run on footways within the estate rather than on grass.
Response: the development was taking place on a greenfield site allocated for development in the local plan and therefore this was inevitable, however, the diverted routes of footpaths 160 and 161 would still run through open space.
· Incidences of dog fouling on the proposed footpaths.
Response: The developer had agreed to provide dog bins and associated signage. A management committee set up once the development was completed would maintain and empty dog fouling bins.
· High fences next to paths
Response: It was confirmed that there would be low fences adjacent to the proposed footpath routes with higher fences around the gardens of dwellings that would be set back from the routes.
· The development should have provided for the retention of existing footpaths therefore avoiding need for diversion.
Response: The impact was considered and approved by Dorset Council in the granting of planning permission.
· Detrimental effect on wildlife habitats.
Response: this had been fully addressed in granting of the planning permission.
· Detrimental effect on homes and privacy of occupants of homes adjacent to the footpaths
Response: the impact was mainly to the front of properties where some public activity would be expected.
· Increase in distance of the footpaths
Response: The footpaths were created as alternatives in order to retain the network of paths within the constraints of the development site.
· Work is being carried out to construct the development.
Response: The construction programme takes account of existing rights of way and the developer had sought legal advice that confirmed that the development had not been substantially completed.
Public written submissions received were read out at the meeting and are attached to these minutes.
Members asked questions in relation to the materials to be used and shared use signage in respect of the bridleway, having regard to the safety of users and were advised that these elements could be discussed further with the developer.
It was highlighted that the application related to bridleway 21 as it was referred to as bridleway 24 on the agenda in error.
The Vice-Chairman stated that the issue concerned whether it was necessary to divert the footpaths to enable the development to take place.
Proposed by Councillor Bill Pipe, seconded by Councillor Jean Dunseith.
(a) the Order be submitted to the Secretary of State for determination; and
(b) the Council takes a supporting stance in the proceedings.
Reason for Decisions:
(a) As there have been objections to the Order, Dorset Council cannot confirm it itself, but may submit it to the Secretary of State for an Inspector to be appointed to consider confirmation; and
(b) The representations received to the Order oppose the diversion of the paths. The Council has accepted the application and agrees with the proposed effect of the Diversion Order.