Projects - Footpaths
Keeping local footpaths open
Maintaining local footpaths free from obstructions and available to all was one of the founding principles of the Trust. And that is as true today as it was in 1963.
After all walking the numerous footpaths in and around our community is a great way to enjoy the history and environment of South Cerney.
However confirming the existence and use of footpaths in the wake of new planning applications, or changes in land ownership, can be tricky. So the Trust is planning to build a photographic record of local public rights of way that should help preserve their enjoyment for future generations.
If you could help, either as an individual or as a group, or have any suggestions on how best to manage this project, then do please email email@example.com and let us know.
October 2018 - Reopening hits major setback
The campaign to have two footpaths at Claymeadow Farm reopened has stalled following 'a number of formal objections' to the Definitive Map Modification order published by Gloucestershire County Council at the beginning of August. Unfortunately the objections mean the paths will not be reinstated anytime soon; instead, the order must be referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision probably after a local public inquiry.
If this wasn't bad enough, it will probably be 'many years' before the Claymeadow order is even submitted 'given current levels of resources', says GCC. This is because the order has been categorised as low priority by GCC which scores all outstanding Definitive Map Modification applications according to the weight of evidence supporting a change and its perceived public benefit. The Secretary of State will therefore be in receipt of the 19 high and medium priority contested orders currently on GCC's books before having a chance to review the case for Claymeadow.
It has already taken five years to reach this point thanks to the time taken by GCC to consider and reject the original reopening application, plus the totally unacceptable nine months delay in its publication of the order for reopening following the Trust's successful appeal against refusal.
So a decade or more may well have elapsed before the reopening application is finally resolved.
Scroll down to learn more about this campaign and its developments.
August 2018 - Footpaths Order Published at Last
The order to reopen the Claymeadow Farm footpaths has been published by Gloucestershire County Council following a formal complaint by the Trust concerning unacceptable delays.
The order was published in the Wilts & Glos Standard on August 2nd and posted at both ends of the two paths concerned.
The two footpaths could be returned to public use as soon as mid-September provided no representations or objections to the order are submitted by the cut-off date of September 13th.
June 2018 - Trust Complaint Obliges Council to Act
The Trust has lodged a formal complaint with Gloucestershire County Council following unacceptable delays in publishing the legal order governing the reopening of the Claymeadow Farm footpaths.
As a result the Council has, at last, agreed to publish order FPS/T1600/14A/1 in the local newspaper (with copies posted at either end of the two paths) by the end of July, more than nine months after being directed to do so by the Planning Inspectorate.
"The Council has a duty, under section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), to determine the rights to use the claimed routes. Delays in executing this are totally unjustified" said the Trust's James Hill, who spearheads the reopening campaign.
"Our original application to reinstate these paths goes way back to June 2013 and has included a successful appeal against the Commons and Rights of Way Committee turning it down in March 2017.
"So we remain firmly committed to ensuring the order is implemented within the promised deadline."
October 2017 - Trust Wins Public Footpaths Battle
Our ongoing campaign to have two footpaths at Claymeadow Farm reopened and declared public rights of way has succeeded on appeal after our original application had been rejected by Gloucestershire County Council's Commons and Rights of Way Committee.
The disputed paths both link the canal and old railway line, one near the river Churn (above, left and centre) and the second via a flight of steps just beyond the former lock keeper's house close to the Cirencester road (right).
When Claymeadow Farm changed ownership in 2012, stiles were removed and new barbed wire fences erected effectively blocking off both routes despite their having been walked by local people for many years.
In 2013 the Trust presented public path evidence forms from over 100 people to GCC and applied to have the Definitive Map modified to show the paths as public rights of way. This application was rejected in March 2017 but the Inspector under the direction of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has since ruled in our favour.
And while the appeal decision could be challenged by a judicial review, this is both complex and expensive to pursue and would only be granted if it could be demonstrated that the Inspector had misinterpreted the law.
"Both footpaths will now go through a final process before being officially recognised as public rights of way," explained Trust committee member James Hill who led the original campaign and subsequent appeal process.
"Notice of the 'Made Order' will be published in a local newspaper and posted at either end of the two paths.
"After 42 days, if there are no objections to the Order, it can then be 'confirmed'. Once 'confirmed', there is a further 42-day objection period for anyone (including the landowner) to object or comment.
"However, the only objections considered valid at this stage should be about process and procedure - not whether someone agrees or disagrees with the evidence or the decision of the Inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State.
"The Commons and Rights of Way Committee may recommend a variation to the declared routes which is another reason why everyone must be given the right to comment on them."
The Trust will be monitoring developments to ensure both paths are returned to public use as soon as it's practicable to do so and the land owner opens up the paths and erects new signs and fences.