We now have a decision on the appeals against the diversion of footpath 14 and the extinction of the diagonal unregistered footpath (UFP) across the field next to Oak Gardens. Both appeals have been rejected by the inspector.
To permit the orders made by Cheshire East on these two paths the LA must prove they are ‘necessary’ to permit the development to proceed. The inspector emphasises two main points:
1. The inspector refers to the report that upheld the original application to build the 15 houses. She argues that the indicative plan – the developer’s suggestion of the layout – shows that the footpath orders are indeed necessary for the development to proceed. While these ‘plans’ were excluded from the consideration and reserved for future agreement, this fact appears to have little weight for the appeal on the footpaths. The report actually says the permission site is ‘not a blank sheet of paper’ and goes on the say
“With no evidence to the contrary , I find it unlikely that the indicative layout could be altered at the reserved mattersstage so that none of the permitted houses would be built over FP14 or the UFP on their existing lines.”
Really? The indicative plan has no status. It is just the developers’initial ideas. If you follow developments through the stages you know that plans are being altered by developers all the time. For example the development next to the Medical Centre went from 12 units to 7 units. The opposite is true. On theSadler’s Wells development they went from two semi-detached housesplus two detached to an eventual 5 detached dwellings. This development through which these paths pass could be developed with an initial 15 house squeezed into a smaller space and a further application for an additional 5 on the remaining space. How does the inspector know? She of course can’t know. So how come it is legitimate to refer to the indicative plan as a piece of convincing evidence to justify the abolition of one path and redirection of the other? The report actually says the permission site is ‘not a blank sheet of paper’
Essentially the inspector is saying, ‘you have one footpath and that will do. Scrap the UFP.’
“to ensure that a public right of way remains in the vicinity of the site”
Don’t even try to find a way through-which in my opinion would not be difficult. The one modification the inspector suggest is to retain the existing entrance of both footpaths to the site.
2. The inspector’s report goes on the say that the inspector does consider the harm done to the environment is outweighed by the benefit gained from the additional housing. This is pretty typical as environmental objections are rarely upheld except in extreme cases where English Nature is the objector.
A. Plan shows the route for FP14 round the edge of the site to the gate to the next field. Note the small change from A to X the inspector recommends
B. Plan above shows the route of the path to be extinguished.