The Committee considered a report of the Interim Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services regarding an application to modify the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way to add a Public Bridleway for a route which run from the junction of Tollhouse Road, Nevilles Cross, Durham to Public Bridleway No. 82 Brandon and Byshottles Parish following the submission of evidence gathered in support of a modification order.
The Committee were informed that there had been no objections to the proposal and the decision to make a modification order was delegated under the Officer Scheme of Delegations, however, the Committee were being asked to consider this matter in principle ahead of the delegated decision to be taken.
The Access and Rights of Way Team Leader informed the Committee that Definitive Map Modification Orders were historically based on user evidence collated over a period of twenty years or based on historical documentary evidence.
Consultees in this case included the Parish Council, Local County Councillors, landowners and occupiers, user groups and organisations. No objections had been made by any of the consultees and support had been expressed by the British Horse Society to the registration of such unrecorded routes. One letter of support had been received from the City of Durham Parish Council
It was unusual in this case that the landowner had not objected. However, in this case the original application requested the addition of a restricted byway. Following consultation with the applicant and landowners it was agreed to instead pursue an application for the recording of a bridleway .This was because if it had been claimed as a restricted Byway it would have become a cul-de-sac route, i.e. carriages would not have been allowed to continue through onto the bridleway section of the route.
The Legal Adviser informed the Committee that this was first application of its type presented to the Committee. The legal tests were set out on pages 14-16 of the report. The Legal Adviser explained that the evidence ‘discovered’ by the County Council in this case was documentary evidence provided by the applicant. Section 32 of the Highways Act 1980 allowed for any maps, plans or history of a locality or other relevant document to be tendered in evidence and for appropriate weight to be placed on the document including the antiquity of the document, the status of the person by whom and the purpose for which it was created and the source from which it has been stored and produced. Should the Committee be minded to approve the modification order it was seen as the initial part of the legal process. From that point forward the order must be publicised, and the owners would have an opportunity to formally object to it. Should objections be received, the Modification Order would be referred to the Secretary of State who would usually hold a Public Inquiry before making a decision whether or not to confirm the Order.
The two most important matters relating to the application were who created the maps and what purpose they were created. In this instance nothing was being created, it was simply a recording of something that was already in existence. The County Council as Highway Authority would become responsible for the maintenance of the surface to a standard suitable for bridleway use only, shared with those having private rights of access.
The Definitive Map Officer informed the Committee that the Inclosure Award plan taken together with the subsequent map evidence was sufficient to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that a Public Bridleway was reasonably alleged to subsist over the route in question and no contrary evidence had been discovered.
Councillor L Brown, Local Councillor for the Nevilles Cross area explained that it was a well-travelled route and had been for over 50 years.
Councillor M Wilson and D Bell were the local members for the Deerness Electoral Division and confirmed that they had no issues with the proposal. Councillor M Wilson Moved the recommendation detailed in the report.
Councillor A Simpson Seconded the proposal commenting that the formalisation of the route would make it safer and more accessible for the general public.
That a Definitive Map Modification Order be made to record the route reasonably alleged to subsist between Toll House Road, Nevilles Cross and Bridleway No. 82 Brandon and Byshottles Parish on the basis of all available evidence.