Report of the Director of Corporate Services
The Panel considered a report of the Director of Corporate Services regarding an application by Mr. M. Reay for a Modification Order under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to add a Public Footpath running from Public Footpath No. 0.1415 Stowe Parish to Ridding Lane, Gratwich, Leigh Parish to the County Council’s Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way.
The report was presented verbally to take Members through the various legal, documentary and historical evidence relevant to the application, The Director also made reference to case law which dealt with the weight to be given to that evidence and gave guidance on the legal tests which they should apply. In applying these tests, Members were made aware they should examine the evidence in its totality.
Members had regard to the appendices attached to the report including:- (i) a copy of the application and associated submitted letters and documents; (ii) a plan of the claimed route; (iii) copies of the 1910 Finance Act maps and Field Book entries; (iv) a plan of the Gratwich estate; (v) copies of Ordnance Survey Maps; (vi) a copy of Landowner Evidence Form from Mr. and Mrs. Cotton; (vii) a copy of Landowner Evidence Form from Mr. MG Sanders; (viii) a copy of Landowner Evidence Form from Mr. D. Steptoe.
Following their detailed consideration of the application, the Panel decided that from the available evidence, the civil test of ‘Balance of Probabilities’ was satisfied in relation to Section 53(3)(c)(i) of the Act ie ‘that a Right of Way which is not shown in the map and statement subsists’ in respect of that part of the alleged route marked A-B-C on the plan attached to the application owing to the documentary evidence which had been submitted, in particular the 1910 finance Act Maps and Field Book entries. However, with regard to that part of the alleged route marked C-D on the plan they decided that neither the civil test of ‘Balance of Probabilities’ or lesser test of Reasonable Allegation had been met owing to (i) the absence of sufficient documentary evidence and (ii) sufficient user evidence which showed that the public had used the alleged route, as of right and without interruption, for a period of at least 20 years prior to the status of the route being brought into question.
RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.
(b) That the evidence submitted by the applicant and that discovered by the County Council is sufficient to conclude that on the balance of probabilities a Public Footpath which is not shown on the Definitive Map and Statement subsists along the route shown marked A-B-C on the plan attached at Appendix A to the report and should be added to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way as such.
(c) That the evidence submitted by the applicant and that discovered by the County Council is insufficient to conclude that a Public Footpath which is not shown on the Definitive Map and Statement is reasonably alleged to subsist along the route shown marked C-D on the plan attached at Appendix A to the report should be added to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way as such.
(d) That an Order be made to add the alleged Right of Way shown on the plan attached at Appendix A to the report and marked A-B-C to the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way for the District of East Staffordshire as a Public Footpath.