PRESS RELEASE May 2013 FOOTPATH MISERY FOR HOME OWNERS A previous Press Release in February highlighted the increasing problems caused by the general public who use footpaths that pass through family homes in order to access the countryside for their own leisure. Family home owners believe the law is being manipulated in order to provide “rights” for recreational purposes where none previously existed. There are many cases where a path passes through a family home. This gives rise to problems of privacy, security and intrusion where the path goes over drive ways, splits a home and garden into two. Privacy and security are now becoming an increasing concern for those home owners subjected to this very significant upgrade of use of previouslyredundant footpaths. The family home is ignored in this change of use. A written question was recently asked in the House of Commons to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as to what progress his Department has made on its consultation on changes to public rights of way that may be considered intrusive to residents. Richard Benyon MP has replied saying that they are considering proposals to ease the process of making changes to public rights of way that may be considered intrusive to residents and that they will announce their proposals later in the year. The concern with this response is that the words 'considered to be intrusive to residents' is open to interpretation, there will be those that have no respect for the family home who will argue over whether a path is intrusive or not, or how intrusive does it need to be before a change. Changing the process is a good first step but it needs to be clear that family homes are excepted land (footpaths not permitted) so there is no room for argument. This principle is already established in the Countryside Rights of Way Legislation 2000 and just needs to be extended to cover all family homes.
The reasons for approving a path diversion in relation to a family home make very encouraging reading. Below read what an inspector said in his conclusions in relation to the order being confirmed.
"Confirmation of the order would lead to a significant decrease in public enjoyment of the path between Bodicote and Bloxham, although not greatly so (paragraph 59). It would lead to a very significant increase in the privacy and a significant increase to the security of the Applicants. It seems to me that I should take into account that the effect on public enjoyment might be lasting whereas the Applicants will benefit only for as long as they occupy the Mill although, as I noted above, future owners would probably benefit too. I should also take into account, I consider, that the enjoyment of a greater number of people would be affected while only those resident at the Mill would immediately benefit from confirmation of the order. On the other hand people's enjoyment of the path would be affected principally only when they were walking the diverted path, while the benefit to the Applicants would be felt continually. It is a difficult balance to make, but overall I conclude that the interests of the Applicants prevail, and that it is expedient to confirm the order."