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Rights of Way

Our Claims Policy

Approved by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage on 14 July 2005

Applications are processed in accordance with the following priority guidelines. The applications given priority in accordance with the claims policy are shown on the claims list.

Policy guidelines for determining claims under s.53(5) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

These policy guidelines should be read in conjunction with the notes at the foot of this document

1. Claims made under s.53(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 will be placed in a waiting list ('List A') in chronological order according to the date on which the application was lodged with the County Council. A claim not in the form required by Schedule 14 of the Act will not be included in this chronological list and will normally have a lower priority.

2. A claim may be removed from List A and placed in another waiting list, ('List B') if it is in danger of being lost because

a) a permanent building is constructed over the claimed path orb) the land over which the claimed path runs is excavated or removed as a result of mineral extraction or mining or similar workings and the path will not be reinstated orc) the claimed path is defined by historic physical features which will be lost without the protection afforded by its recognition as a public path.

A path is unlikely to be considered to be in danger of being lost for reasons a) and b) above unless planning permission for the relevant development has been granted and officers are satisfied that there is a genuine intention to implement the development immediately.

3.1 A claim may be removed from List A and placed in another waiting list (List C) if it can be demonstrated to be in the interests of the public to expedite the investigation of the claim.

In considering whether it is in the interests of the public to expedite a claim, regard will be had to whether the claim, if successful, would

4. Subject to clause 5 below, the claims in List A, List B and List C respectively shall be investigated in chronological order according to the date on which the application was lodged with the County Council. In each case, the County Council will make a full investigation of the evidence submitted with the application and any other evidence considered by it to be relevant. The investigation will be completed as soon as reasonably practicable and the claim recommended for acceptance or refusal in the usual way.

5. When investigating any claim which involves the collation and appraisal of evidence that is also relevant to another claim on the list (such as investigation of evidence relating to a single route, different parts of which are the subject of separate claims, or where the same witnesses are involved in more than one claim) the County Council, may, at its discretion, investigate both claims simultaneously, notwithstanding that one will thereby be taken otherwise than in chronological order.

6. Claims in List B shall be dealt with in priority to the claims in Lists A and C. Claims in Lists A and C respectively shall be progressed, at a ratio to be determined from time to time.

Notes: It is acknowledged that, owing to the number of claims made under s.53(5) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the current resources allocated to their determination, the County Council has a backlog of such claims waiting to be dealt with. The provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 will cause this backlog to increase for the foreseeable future. Thus, although claims are dealt with as soon as reasonably practicable, this is not always within 12 months of being made. The purpose of these guidelines is to clarify, for applicants and officers alike, the basis on which, and order in which, claims will be processed.

In order to be fair to all applicants and affected parties, there is a strong presumption against investigating claims in anything other than chronological order. However, it is recognised that a claim may be adversely affected by development taking place before the claim can be investigated and, indeed, a landowner wishing to develop land may be seriously prejudiced by the threat of a previously unrecorded right of way. Equally, there may be occasions when it is considered desirable to expedite an application that would not otherwise be dealt with for some time, because it would be in the interests of the public to resolve the claim promptly. It is envisaged that such cases will be rare and the majority of claims will remain to be dealt with in chronological order, although where it is clearly more efficient or economic to do so claims involving the same or substantially the same evidence will be dealt with simultaneously.

The investigation of claims to amend the definitive map is only one aspect of the work of the Rights of Way Section. The priority given to the investigation of claims made under s.53(5) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as opposed to other aspects of rights of way work will depend on the Rights of Way Strategy and Statement of Priorities published from time to time.


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