Claimed Public Right of Way to Playing Field
Parish Council discussion on this key topic is documented in meeting minutes, minutes of Council meetings can be accessed through this LINK.
RIGHT OF WAY APPLICATION TO RE-ESTABLISH A ROUTE
FROM URCHFONT TOP GREEN TO THE PARISH
Many of you will be aware that the Parish Council facilitated the collection of resident witness statements and submission of a claim to Wiltshire Council (WC) in January 2014 on this issue. The WC investigation has been in progress since that date and finally published an approved decision in favour of the residents claim on 29th May 2015. The decision means that the Public Right of Way (PROW) will be added to the definitive map of the area in due course, practicalites for actual implementation of the decision will need to be discussed and agreed between WC, the Parish Council and Urchfont Primary School.
At a meeting of the Parish Council (UPC) on 17th June 2015 the intent and content of the following letter from the Chairman was approved unanimously for publication in Redhorn News (July Edition) and on the website by all councillors present:
“As you may be aware the above application has been successful and Urchfont Parish Council are keen to work with all parties to try to establish a route which is acceptable to all and does not in any way jeopardise the safety of pupils and staff at Urchfont School, indeed has the potential to improve pupil safety.
Parents of Urchfont School children and others will have seen a letter sent by the School Head Teacher and Chair of the School Governors explaining the school’s position. Urchfont Parish Council (UPC) wish to express their disappointment that:
i) This letter was written and distributed before there was any discussion with or input from UPC following Wiltshire Council’s decision.
ii) As a matter of courtesy a copy should have been sent to UPC; it was not. UPC for their part has endeavoured to communicate with all parties at length throughout these negotiations.
iii) Pupils of Urchfont School were used as the delivery mechanism. Some may have read it on their way home and formed quite a poor opinion of the effectiveness of UPC.
The best way for UPC to guarantee getting our response to such a wide audience is to use Redhorn News and the Parish Website as the communication vehicles.
The School letter itself expresses the history from a School perspective. I would like to take this opportunity to express UPC’s view of some of the events covered.
1) The Proposal to route an alternative footpath through Urchfont Manor grounds.
Wiltshire Council were opposed to this suggestion because of potential damage to trees which were subject to a Tree Preservation Order. UPC decided not to pursue this option, but to concentrate on other alternatives. At the time the Manor was still owned by Wiltshire Council and there is no reason why the School if they felt so strongly about it could not have raised a planning application for such a path to be established. There is little doubt that UPC would have supported such an application.
2) The separate but co-ordinated paths to Oakfrith Wood, including the proposed path through Crookwood House at Part B - Planning Application 13/0247/FUL.
At the UPC Planning meeting on 2nd September 2013 it was reported that 8 letters of representation had been posted on Wiltshire Council’s website objecting to part B of the application. Furthermore 6 members of the public spoke against this part of the application at the meeting. This is rather different than the application was objected to by a single resident as stated in the School’s recent letter. There were no letters of representation or speakers in favour of this section of the application. It would have been very useful for UPC to have known that the School were in favour of this application and it is regrettable that they did not write to Wiltshire Council or send a representative to the UPC meeting to express this support. Nevertheless UPC supported the application but suggested 2 alternatives to part B that could be considered. Wiltshire Council then amended their application to remove part B. No alternative was offered, and the application for the pathway to Oakfrith Wood was subsequently approved. Wiltshire Council has now sold the land on which Path B was to be placed, so the opportunity has been lost.
On a general point, it is very difficult for Councillors to take a balanced view of Parishioners pro’s and con’s of a planning application when the objectors are quite vociferous at meetings and write letters of representation; the supporters by and large remain silent. We always welcome Parishioners views both for and against planning applications.
3) Establishment of a PROW (Public Right of Way).
Following the sale of Urchfont Manor in 2013 a number of residents put forward the view that the pathway from Top Green to Urchfont School had been and still should be a PROW to the Playing Field. UPC was asked to facilitate the collection of the required witness statements and submission of a claim on behalf of the residents to Wiltshire Council in this respect. This is considered to be standard procedure for a Parish Council and does not mean that the UPC had any bias about the possible outcome. The claim was submitted on 31st January 2014.
The way forward for this Right of Way implementation was discussed at the UPC meeting on 10th June. The proposed way forward for UPC was resolved and recorded as follows:
‘That Wiltshire Council is asked through Councillor Philip Whitehead to propose a documented solution, and to host a site meeting of all interested parties, to identify the implementation of a pathway route which satisfies the ROW definitive map criteria, the community and the School.’
I hope you will agree with me that this approach, which could be widened to include the general public, should have the full support of all interested parties and acrimonious debate about the history of this saga should be put behind us.
Regards, Dave Mottram, Chairman UPC
6th October 2015
NOTICE OF MAKING AN ORDER
An Order was made on 6th October by Wiltshire Council relating to the Public Right of Way (PROW) decision they made earlier in relation to the path from Top Green to the Playing Field via Urchfont Primary School grounds. The Notice facilitates the submission of representations and objections by 5pm on 30th November 2015.
The Notice, Order and associated map can be seen by clicking the links below:
26th October 2015
At the request of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, the Parish Council provided the statement at this LINK.
16th November 2015
The letter attached at the following link was handed to Barbara Burke, WC Rights of Way Officer on 16th November 2015 stating that the Parish Council formally supports the Public Right of Way to the playing field in principle, seeks to implement an alternative route and sets out its msin objective 'to work together with all parties to develop an alternmative proposal' - LINK TO LETTER
12th July 2017
The Parish Council have been advised that the Wiltshire Council (WC) Rights of Way Department will be submitting the PROW Order unchanged to the WC Regional Planning Committee for ratification on 7th September 2017. Ratification will facilitate the next phase in the process which is submission to the Secretary of State for a decision whether to publish a Definitive Map Modification Order to formally record the route of the PROW from Top Green to the Playing Field. The decision is not automatic and could involve a public enquiry before or after publication following receipt of any objections and / or further evidence.
PROW PUBLIC ENQUIRY - URCHFONT FOOTPATH 52 (NOT 51)
The Decision Notice has now been received from the Planning Inspectorate following the public enquiry held on the 24th to 26th April 2019. The Decision is that 'THE ORDER IS NOT CONFIRMED', the full details of the Inspectors report can be seen HERE. Wiltshire Council has confirmed that it will not be launching an appeal against this decision.
(Published 24th June 2019)