21 January 2016
Mark Yates
Bridleway stopping-up, alternative routes, use of estate roads, Circular 1/09.

Kettering Borough Council made an order under s.257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to stop-up part of bridleway UA12 at Hogs Hollow Burton Latimer in order to enable a development of 112 dwellings with associated garages and external works. Objections were received and the decision was made on the basis of written representations.

Having identified the guidance in paragraph 7.15 of Circular 1/09, the Inspector found that it was necessary to stop-up the relevant part of the bridleway to enable the development authorised by the planning permission to be carried out. Under the heading of whether the stopping-up would disadvantage members of the public generally the Inspector identifies a number of roads and paths and concluded that such roads, adjacent footways, and the additional path, “would link with the unaffected section of bridleway UA 12.” Further he noted that a permissive path agreement was in place to provide public access until such time as these routes are adopted by the highway authority. He then went on to acknowledge that paragraph 7.8 of Circular 1/09 advises wherever possible against the use of alternative routes which follow estate roads.

Crucially he then stated: “However, in this case, no other alternative appears to be available within the constraints of the development for which planning permission has been granted.” This conclusion raises an important point, namely if the planning permission is devoid of a suitable non-estate road alternative, then that would appear to defeat the guidance in paragraph 7.8. Put another way, all the developer has to do is exclude other suitable routes from the application for planning permission, and that will suffice to answer the guidance in 7.8 of 1/09.

The muddy nature of the bridleway was next considered, at [15], and reference is made to the lack of lighting. In contrast the Inspector noted that the alternative routes would have the advantages of “providing the public with a sealed surface and routes which benefit from street lighting and that are overlooked by properties.”

The Inspector goes on to conclude, at [16], that “(t)he bridleway does offer a route free from motor vehicles and in this respect it could be preferable to the alternative routes. However pedestrian users would be able to use the 1.8m wide footways. Ramps are also in place to restrict the speed of motor vehicles travelling along the estate roads.”

Mr Yates was faced with a difficult task in determining the stopping-up order as it appears that there was not a satisfactory alternative route provided as part of the authorised development. Perhaps the lesson is that it is the planning process (rather than the stopping-up process) that needs to take greater account of the guidance such that alternative non-estate road routes are designed-in to the development. A case for revision of the relevant parts of 1/09? The order is confirmed.