Friday, 22 November 2013

Public Rights of Way through Knowle: appeal accepted: District Council press release, responses and background

The District Council has just released this response to this decision:
Futures Forum: Public Rights of Way through Knowle: appeal accepted

EDDC reacts to footpaths appeal outcome

Signage at Knowle
Thursday 21 November
East Devon District Council has reacted to the report of a Planning Inspector regarding an appeal against Devon County Council’s refusal to designate footpaths at Knowle, Sidmouth, as public rights of way. The Council says this is a mixed outcome in a complex process.
Upholding the appeal in respect of just two footpaths, the Inspector also dismissed several elements of the appeal by Knowle Residents’ Association relating to a number of other footpaths on the same campus.
The Inspector’s report is available in full on the national Planning Portal website *.
The effect of her decision is NOT to immediately create the routes as public rights of way. The Inspector’s view is merely that the routes could reasonably be alleged to exist (which is the ‘lower’ level test that she was required to consider).
Devon County Council is now obliged to make an Order seeking to confirm the two routes, one of which follows the line of the main driveway from Station Road to the office buildings and the other via the rear service entrance from Knowle Drive.
If it chooses to do so, EDDC as landowner has the right to object to this Order and so force a further appeal to consider the matter. At this second appeal, though, an Inspector would consider the case on the basis of a ‘higher’ test – that is to say whether or not the routes have been shown to subsist on the balance of probabilities.
If and when this further appeal inquiry takes place, EDDC will be able to present its evidence in much greater detail than in the hearing recently completed. The Council (including the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive) has yet not given ANY direct evidence. EDDC supplied Devon County Council with a completed Landowner Evidence Form, along with a summary of its case as requested by County.
EDDC was advised NOT to provide its full evidence at that stage as it was deemed unnecessary. So EDDC has only really provided the basis for its case, rather than the evidence it intends to rely on. Any comment by the Inspector about the adequacy or otherwise of EDDC’s evidence merely reflects the fact that EDDC has not yet fully presented its case.
For example, the Inspector said: “In the absence of further evidence from EDDC to confirm the positioning (and wording) of signs pre-May 2012, [there is] insufficient evidence that during the period 2 May 1992 to 2 May 2012 the landowner made clear to the public a lack of intention to dedicate the public rights of way”.
EDDC will reserve its position until the Order is actually made by Devon County Council, which is expected to be in February 2014.
A spokesman said: “If we consider that it is appropriate to object to the Order, we will provide the full evidence as set out in our initial response to DCC. In the meantime, and until the routes claimed are confirmed as public rights of way, the signs will remain in situ.
“The Council has always stressed its intention to retain a significant proportion of the parkland at Knowle for public use and welcomes people using the park. The retained parkland would be offered to Sidmouth Town Council”.
* www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/countryside/schedule14/schedule14decisions
East Devon District Council - News

EDDC’s huffy reaction to 

Knowle right of way decision

Below is EDDC’s rather testy response to the planning inspector’s decision on designating the paths through the Knowle grounds an official public right of way.
I have to say that I am slightly incredulous that the paths and the grounds in question are all bought with taxpayers money in any case, so I find the concept of all this battling for control of the land akin to robbing residents of their entitlements. It smacks of the big powerful landowner turfing people off his land because there is more cash to be made without them around….......
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural

Knowle signs “will remain in situ” , says EDDC

In its press release this week, responding to the just-published report on Knowle footpaths, East Devon District Council says, ‘until the routes claimed are confirmed as public rights of way, the signs will remain in situ.’
Knowle Residents’ Association, who successfully lodged an appeal regarding the footpaths, may well be asking, “Does this illustrate how little credence EDDC gives to Inspector Sue Arnott’s ruling?”

Knowle signs “will remain in situ” , says EDDC | Save Our Sidmouth

EDDC ‘welcomes people using the park’ at Knowle

22 November
Some extraordinary statements are contained in this week’s press release from East Devon District Council, following the Inspector’s report on disputed footpaths  (see http://saveoursidmouth.com/2013/11/18/knowle-footpaths-appeal-decision/ ) .  
SIN is particularly surprised by EDDC’s  two comments quoted below, as the SIN pics archive seems to tell a different story.
1. EDDC press release: “The Council has always stressed its intention to retain a significant proportion of the parkland at Knowle for public use…”
SIN archive: Aerial view of EDDC’s original plans for Knowle, rejected in  May 2013.  The accessible parkland remaining would have been on a sloping site, notoriously wet, away from the finest trees…and largely unsuitable for prams or wheelchairs, etc.
Knowle site AFTER proposed plans by EDDC
Knowle site AFTER proposed plans by EDDC
2. EDDC Press release:    “….and welcomes people using the park”.

SIN pic archive: 
…..and of course, you’ll remember the ribbon fairy caught in flagrant delit on the day of the Mass March? 
Do actions speak louder than words?
EDDC ‘welcomes people using the park’ at Knowle | Sidmouth Independent News

‘War declared’ over Sidmouth sign wrangle

Friday, May 18, 2012 
RESIDENTS accused East Devon District Council (EDDC) of “declaring war on Sidmouth” by erecting signs stating popular parkland will never be a public right of way.
Tree enthusiasts celebrating the launch of Sidmouth Arboretum were incensed to see the notifications being put up just as they came to the end of a guided walk at Knowle last Thursday.
One of the signs, which cost £76 each, lasted only 12 hours before thieves struck. A new version will be fitted with vandal-proof fixings.
Nearby householders were “appalled” and councillors said the move ‘beggared belief’.
But EDDC bosses say such notifications have been in place at Knowle ‘for years’ and older incarnations had become damaged, lost or hidden by vegetation.
Fears have been expressed for Knowle’s green areas should EDDC relocate to Honiton and developers move in.
Residents and councillors have launched bids to see the parkland safeguarded as a public right of way.
Jackie Green, who was on the arboretum walk, said: “EDDC has declared war on Sidmouth.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes feels the public will be “forced” to go through a long-winded process to establish the land as a right of way. “Of course EDDC is entitled to do this and at the same time alienate even more Sidmouth residents, many of whom have used the footpaths for decades,” he added.
An EDDC spokesman said signs were originally put in place to explain that public access is by permission of the council and there are currently no agreed rights of way. He added: “With the possibility of EDDC moving out of Knowle being so topical, there has been a degree of uncertainty around the town as to the status of access to the parklands. To clarify the situation, it was therefore decided that any broken or missing signs should be renewed or replaced and this is why some new signs appeared. EDDC’s leader and chief executive have already made clear their desire to maintain significant publicly accessible open space as part of any future development.”
‘War declared’ over Sidmouth sign wrangle - News - Sidmouth Herald


Tuesday April: 17th 2012 
Having taken advice from our PROW team at County Hall I have written to request that the East Devon District Council dedicate footpaths within the Knowle grounds as public rights of way, through dedication or creation agreements as the landowners with the County Council under section 25 of the Highways Act 1980. They (the footpaths) would then be recorded on the Definitive Map as public rights of way.
I am only too well aware that with the media interest on the possibility of EDDC relocating to Honiton that there is a vast amount of concern regarding this issue within the town and it is an easier procedure to record public rights of way than going through the investigation of evidence to add them to the Definitive Map by Modification Order as they are currently not recorded as rights of way, although I am led to believe that there have already been queries from members of the public about how to do that.

Wednesday April: 18th 2012
Have now heard from Chief Executive at East Devon that my request to dedicate footpaths within the Knowle grounds as public right of way will go to the next meeting of the office accommodation working party for assessment........It is worth pointing out that if agreement is secured and I see no reason why not ,otherwise we would have to go through the investigation of evidence route which is both timely and costly. That it does not allow wider access for the public to wander in open areas of land or parkland.......I am now looking into that aspect.


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