Over the years, many people have had to live with badly placed rights of way. People have written into newspapers, posted to blogs and had their stories told on national television. Councils and campaigners alike have reports on issues caused by this problem. The case studies below demonstrate a glimpse into the nature of the problem
IF Comment on this result. A member of ‘ the public’ only asking that walkers should go round his property instead of straight through his garden! Breckland council have a duty to protect the rights of an individual just as much, if not more, than ‘pressure’ groups. It is ‘the pressure’ groups who exercise no common sense or empathy and force sensible councils to spend ‘public money’. The ‘home owner’ has to pay his own expenses. We remain quite disgusted with this attitude which purports to be in the public interest, but clearly is not.
From the Open Spaces Society
26 February 2015 We are delighted that, thanks to our objection, a public footpath in Norfolk’s Breckland District will remain on its ancient, direct route. The footpath is at Lyng, four miles south of Reepham. Breckland District Council wanted to move the route which runs past the property Patholme. The council was concerned that the existence of the path was detrimental to the interests of the property’s occupiers, and wanted to shove the path around the edge of the field to the west, introducing two dog-legs. Mr Ian Witham, the Open Spaces Society’s representative in Norfolk, objected on behalf of the society and the matter was referred to the Planning Inspectorate for determination. The inspector, Mrs Helen Slade, did not consider that there was any evidence of a problem. She wrote that on her site visit ‘it took a matter of less than 30 second to cross the garden area. I noted that the windows overlooking the path were dressed with blinds to afford privacy to the occupants’ and that there was no evidence ‘to suggest that users of the path feel uncomfortable using the path’. Says Ian Witham: ‘We are delighted with this result. Many properties co-exist with public paths nearby and there is no difficulty about this. The inspector considered that, although the order had been made in the landowner’s interests, these had not been demonstrated. ‘We are sorry that Breckland District Council spent public money on this fruitless exercise but we are relieved that this footpath will stay on its historic route.’
We have a footpath that comes down our drive and ends before it gets to our house, not joining up with any other right of way. Some time ago, I contacted the local authority (Rights of Way Officer) and asked him if we could apply for it to be removed. He told us that we could do this but that we would have to meet the cost of advertising the possible extinguishment of the right in our local newspaper. He was of the opinion that we had a good case as the right was effectively of no real benefit, it's being effectively a dead end. So we agreed to do this and considered that it would be just a formality to get it removed. A few months later, I was somewhat surprised and annoyed when he informed me that someone had objected to the removal. I asked him if it were a neighbour and he stated that it wasn't. He told me that he was unable to reveal who had objected, so I stated that "anybody could object for whatever reason, even if he or she didn't use the right of way". He informed me that that was correct and that if just one person objected then we would lose the right to extinguishment. To me, that effectively means that it would be virtually impossible to get the right of way removed as some busybody would see the application and for no reason other than bloody-mindedness, object to it. I then wrote to David Davies MP, who wrote to the Council requesting if we could see who had objected, under the Freedom of Information Act. The Council also stated in their letter to the MP that there was no right of appeal against their decision. The correspondence was returned to Mr Davies with the objector’s letter, which he subsequently sent on to me. However, I was unable to identify the person because the name and address had been blanked out. The unknown objector’s solution though was to join it up with an unused right of way, which would have made it even more intrusive. The right in question is rarely used and when people appear out of nowhere near our house, it usually ends up in a dispute with the walker when he or she is told that they have to go back down the drive, as the right of way has ended and they are effectively trespassing. Some will stand their ground and argue that the right must go somewhere, even though they are told categorically that it doesn't. I have another right of way on my property that isn't intrusive and I am perfectly happy with that. From my experience, the process in attempting to get a right removed is so undemocratic and is loaded against the landowner.