Permissive paths and other types of pathway
See 'Walks at East Winch & West Bilney'here
03 August update
Temporary Covid-19 exercise route is now CLOSED
Update - 31 August 2018.
FOOTPATHS - THE PUBLIC INQUIRY - DECISION
The Inspector's decision has been published (29 August 2018)
THE CASE HAS BEEN LOST. THE INSPECTOR'S DECISION IS THAT "THE ORDER IS NOT CONFIRMED".
It therefore follows that the paths which were subject to inquiry will not be added to the definitive map and will not be classified as "PUBLIC FOOTPATHS"
The complete document, the 'ORDER DECISION' may be read/downloaded from here (pdf file).
THE PUBLIC INQUIRY
into local footpaths, that was opened in September 2017 and was adjourned until April 2018, and was then further postponed, finally reconvened today - 17 July 2018.
The Enquiry re-opened at 9.30am and with a short break mid morning and for lunch, the Inspector heard statements from a number of witness' both for the Applicant and for those who objected to the Order. Following closing statements the enquiry was closed at about 4pm.
The Inspector has now to consider the evidence and to come to a conclusion. It is likely that it will be some months before we hear more.
The NOTICE OF PUBLIC LOCAL INQUIRY may be seen here
The DEFINITIVE MAP of the subject of the inquiry is here
See below for the history of the proceedings that led to this inquiry.
Footpaths - update March 2017.
The following information updates the September 2016 news - see below.
Following the County Council Order made in October 2016 to modify the definitive map to include various footpaths the Planning Inspectorate will consider the Order at a public meeting in September 2017 - see the following letter from Norfolk Community and Environmental Services.
Re: Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Norfolk County Council (East Winch) Modification Order 2016
I write to confirm that the Planning Inspectorate wish to consider the above Order at a Public Inquiry scheduled to commence at 10.00 a.m. on 6th September 2017 at East Winch and West Bilney Village Hall. Please find enclosed a copy of a Notice regarding this together with the Order map. The inquiry has been scheduled for 1 day. If you wish to attend, please note that refreshments may not be available and therefore you may wish to bring a drink/lunch although these items should only be consumed during the breaks provided during the course of the day.
The Notice about the Inquiry will be advertised in the Eastern Daily Press on 28th July 2017 and will also be displayed at the ends of the routes. Please could you also ensure that the notice and plan attached is placed on notice boards within the parish from this date up to and including 6th September 2017.
At the inquiry Norfolk County Council will take a neutral stance. This means that although the Council will attend to deal with any queries which the Inspector may have, we will neither actively support nor oppose the case. The Council believes that it can contribute nothing further to the process with regard to the evidence of use and it is for the users and the objectors to present their respective cases.
If you have any questions please contact me.
Community and Environmental Services
Norfolk County Council
The County Council had made an order - the 'NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL (EAST WINCH) MODIFICATION ORDER 2016' under Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 on 12 October 2016.
If no objections to the Order were made, it could be confirmed by the County Council itself. This would allow the Definitive Map and Statement to be amended to include five further footpaths.
If an objection was made then the Order would have to be submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In the event two objections were lodged. The order was therefore submitted to the Secretary of State and this enquiry is the result.
The Enquiry procedure was for the Applicants (those supporting the County Council Order) to present the case for the Order and for those objecting to make the case against the Order.
Witnesses were called to make the case for the Order. This generally involved a witness being questioned about statements they had made earlier, about the use they had made of the footpaths - describing when and how often they had used the paths, whether they had ever been told that the paths were private, whether or not they had met others walking or riding, whether or not they had found paths to be obstructed or shut by gates and whether or not such gates had been locked
Subsequently witnesses were called by the representative of those objecting to the Order. These witnesses, each of whom had been associated with the farmland over which the paths ran, were questioned about their knowledge of the use of the paths, the presence of gates and whether they were closed and, or, locked etc.
The Enquiry had been scheduled to last for one day. In the event it proved impossible to conclude the business in the time allowed; fewer than half of the witnesses for Wilson Farms had given evidence. It would therefore be necessary to hold a further session.
So patience, everyone, and many thanks to the people who gave evidence and those who came to the hearing out of interest as well.
It was arranged that the second session would be held on Wednesday 4th. April 2018 at the village hall commencing at 9.30am.
This planned session was postponed.
THE INQUIRY WILL RE-CONVENE ON 17 JULY 2018 AT
AT THE VILLAGE HALL.
Rights of Way update.A Public and Local Enquiry was opened at the Village Hall, before an Inspector, Susan Dolan, on Wednesday September 6th 2017 at 10am to consider the..
"Norfolk County Council Definitive Map and Statement (East Winch) Modification Order 2016"
Footpaths - update October 2016.
After representations were made to the County Council, footpaths which have used for many years, but which did not appear as such on the 'Definitive Map', are set to be added to that map.The effect will be that those paths will be recognised as 'official footpaths' and the public will be free to use them.January 2017 update - see box below
Rights of Way / Footpaths - January 2017 - Decision deferred.
In the autumn, Norfolk County Council ordered that all the paths applied for on the south side of the A47 in Bilney and East Winch should become rights of way.
This order was provisional and time for objections was allowed until 16th December 2016. In early December an objection was indeed filed.
The application papers have been forwarded to a government inspector who will, sometime in 2017, set up a tribunal. It is possible that the process will take up to 9 months, but at least that decision will be final, one way or the other.
Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Norfolk County Council (East Winch) Modification Order 2016
After due consideration and statuatory consultations..
"An order made by the County Council on 12 October 2016, if confirmed as made, will modify the Definitive Map and Statement for the area by adding.... a number of footpaths as shown on the attached maps.
A copy of the order and the "Notice of its making" is to be published in the Eastern Daily Press on 4th. November.
However, importantly, before the order can become effective it is subject to representations or objections being made.
If representations or objections to the Order are made it will be submitted to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for judgement.
If no such representations or objections are made by 16 December 2016, or if any so made are withdrawn, the County Council may itself confirm the Order.
(UPDATE: January 2017. Objections have been raised - see box above for latest information)
See below two maps which show the footpaths concerned - all south of the A47; the two maps conjoin along the southern boundary of the northernmost map - that to the right of the screen. Click on a map to see it enlarged.
The full document (.pdf format) as received from the County Council is available at the foot of this page to read or to download.
Note: The footpaths to which the Order above apply are those south of the A47 (see the maps).
A similar exercise, to that which has led to the current position with regard to these paths, is being conducted with reference to the paths on the northern side of the road; in particular along the Long and Short droves - behind Town Close.
If you have consistently walked these paths over the past 30 years, and would like to be able to do so again, please contact Nell Steele - Tel 840814 - or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information.
There are some forms to complete - but nothing too difficult. Without the necessary number of 'statements of use' no progress can be made with the application.
The forms required may be seen / downloaded from the foot of this page - scroll down and see the file 'Rights of Way evidence.pdf'
FOOTPATH TO GRANDCOURT MANOR
August 2015. Update.
Many people will know that access to the footpath to Grandcourt Manor has been improved by the building of a fenced path from close by Holland House up to the entrance to the Long Drove, where the official footpath begins. This eliminates the need to cross the A47 near the church, to join the footpath on the southern side of the main road, and then to re-cross the road adjacent to the entrance to the drove.
Access to the fenced path, which runs parallel to the A47 - on the north side, is through the gate near the bus layby/Holland House. Leaving the path is through another gateway which leads you to the 'official footpath' as indicated by the finger signpost.
At the time of writing the path passes through a stubble field and presents no
problems. It then passes through the hedge and leads to another field. Here things are not so easy; the path is less well defined and at first is through the stalks of a harvested crop (rape??) - but passable. It then comes to a rather unkempt, uncultivated area with the path is more difficult to cross; eventually it passes through the hedge, close by the bungalow onto the road to Grandcourt.(See below for a comment about the path to Grandcourt dating from October 2014)
January 2015 Update.
In the last few weeks, notices have been put up round East Winch with a map and a
declaration, under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, to the effect that no additional
paths over the land covered by the map have been dedicated since the date of deposit.
These notices have worried some people. However, all they mean is that from the date
the Parish Council was notified, no new paths can be created by people claiming, at a
later date, that they have been walking freely for 20 years.
So they do not prevent people who have walked existing paths, that have been used for
20 years before they became permissive, from applying to make them into rights of way.
However, it is important that walkers should complete forms declaring that they have
walked these paths, or nothing will get done.
Nell Steele has additional forms and maps and will be happy to help with completion of the forms and deal with the application.
Telephone Nell Steele - 01553 840814.
Webmasters Note. The forms and guidance referred to here are available to read or download - see the foot of this page.
November 7th. 2014.
Permissive Footpaths - a possible way forward.
Mr Robert Wilson on whose land were the recently closed permissive paths - (see below for the story to date) - is keen to know, on a "without prejudice basis", whether there is any interest amongst villagers in establishing a wider network of permissive paths to the north of the A47.
To this end he would be grateful if people would register their interest in such a scheme, on a 'household' basis' - there is no requirement to register an individual interest.
You may register an interest either by email - email@example.com - giving your name, address and e-mail address
by downloading and completing the form below and delivering it to 63 Town Close - or call Keith on 01553 841353 to arrange collection.
See the file 'Footpaths - interest.pdf' at the foot of this page - scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
If you like to walk for exercise or fresh air, or to walk your dog, it would seem to be a very good idea to register an interest in this and to encourage Mr Wilson to establish footpaths in the area. Clearly the goodwill of everyone would be paramount and those using any such path would be expected to respect any restrictions that might be imposed.
FOOTPATH TO GRANDCOURT MANOR
Recently (17 October 2014) a Parishioner who has tried to walk the footpath , starting on the northern side of the A47 and going towards Grandcourt Manor and Middleton Towers, reports that it is almost impossible to do so.
With the closing of the Permissive Paths on 30th September, the path referred to above is one of the few available to walk on.
However, the photographs below show the problems encountered in trying to do so.
First cross the busy A47-
Cross the deeply rutted, very muddy field
If we are to use the right of way it must be signposted properly and walkable, which it was not. Nor should you have to run the gauntlet of the bird scarer.Our parishoner tells that beyond Grandcourt Manor, 'the temporary path to Middleton Towers was lovely'.
Webmasters note. As at mid November the field, across which the footpath runs, has been cultivated; it is possible to walk around the edges for much of the way, though in part there is little option but to walk across the growing crop. Note also that the bird scarer mentioned here was not in evidence at this time.
From Grandcourt Manor onwards, towards Middleton Towers, the path is largely easy and grass covered - follow the Norfolk County Council Bridleway signs and take care when crossing the sandworks roadway.
End of the walk - Middleton Towers.
Our parishoner tells that beyond Grandcourt Manor, 'the temporary path to Middleton Towers was lovely'.
With effect from 1st October 2014 the 'Permissive Paths' in the parish have been CLOSED.
To now walk the paths is trespassing on the land.
Read more about this below.
The photograph above shows a view, which can no longer be seen by the public; part of the permssive path near Manor Farm, with the church in the background. (Photo courtesy Charlotte Paton)
AN INFORMATION EVENING REGARDING MATTERS RELATED
TO PERMISSIVE PATHS AND OTHER TYPES OF PATHWAYS
was held on 15th. September 2014. About 35 people were present.
The meeting was chaired by
WEST NORFOLK BOROUGH COUNCILLOR MR JAMES MORIARTY.
Mr Moriarty opened the meeting and indicated 3 large scale maps of the permissive paths in the parish which were available to inspect.
(you may download the maps - see the foot of this page - select the file 'AR Wilson letter....')
The meeting was told that the scheme of permissive paths which had been running for ten years was to come to an end on 30 September; the scheme had been a nationwide exercise and it was understood that in some places farmers had come to an agreement with local people to continue to operate the scheme.
Mr Moriarty then read a letter from A R Wilson Limited which had been written following the raising of the matter at a routine Parish Council meeting in July 2014. (See the Minutes of that meeting here)
(In the box 'Minutes' select 2014 and from there select file (G) - see item 4 of the Minute )
(A copy of the letter and of the maps may be downloaded - see the foot of this page - select the file 'AR Wilson letter....')
Mr Robert Wilson then introduced himself as the author of the letter from AR Wilson Limited. He explained that he had been responsible for the introduction of the permissive paths in 2004 and that the paths had been introduced as part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme; as the scheme drew to an end in September 2014 the paths would be closed.
Mr Wilson added that, as the scheme was no longer funded by DEFRA, he was not prepared to continue to allow the paths to be be used. He was joining a new scheme, which aimed to provide security of environment and habitat for flora and fauna, but this did not include provision for public access.
The meeting was also told that there were ways of having the Definitive Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way modified, by adding, deleting, upgrading or downgrading a public right of way. Anyone can ask the County Council to consider making a Modification Order to change the Map or Statement- see links/download below.
However, the County Council were not able to consider applications based on personal preferences, concerns about safety or the environment, or concerns about impact on enjoyment.
Evidence of previous use, (with the aim to produce evidence from at least twelve users) and historical records and maps showing the route would form the basis of an application. In order to be considered a route should stretch from point A to point B and must both start and end at an existing road or path.
Many of those present at the meeting expressed their concerns about the A47 and the ability to cross it safely. This prevented people from accessing the Common and the bridleway from Manor Farm towards Blackborough End. The closing of the permissive paths to the north of the A47 would make it difficult for many people to walk 'off road' with dogs.
Useful links / contacts / downloads which can provide further information:-
1. Norfolk County Council manages Public Rights of Way in the county - see here
2. The Council is also responsible for updating the maps and statements which show recorded Public Rights of Way - see here.
3. Public Paths Orders - see here
4. A Public Path Order Application Pack, and an Eligibility Tool may be downloaded - see foot of this page.
5. The Definitive Map Team at Norfolk County Council may be contacted on 0344 800 8020. You can arrange an appointment using this number to view maps.
To View / Download files see the foot of the page - click on a file to view it - click the arrow to the right of the file name to download.
Webmaster. 17 September 2014.
see more about footpaths below - with letters from the Chairman of the Parish Council addressed to Bellingham MP concerning the matter-
The Parish Council cannot prevent landowners from closing paths which are not already
rights of way, but both the chairman and deputy chairman have written to Mr. Bellingham
to express their dismay at how paths closure will affect our villagers, and to urge him to
ensure that future Defra schemes encourage more permanent access. A public meeting
is to be arranged when the Borough Councillor, Jim Moriarty, is available to chair it. This
meeting will be for information only, as, in the long term, some remedies may be possible.
(The meeting was held on 15th. September 2014 - see top of the page for news of this)
TROD. There were complaints that the posts were not as thick as had been promised, and that in some places the spacing between them was so wide that lorries and agricultural vehicles could mount the path and crush it.
On 15th August, two councillors, the Parish Clerk and three residents met Andrew Wallace from NCC Highways to discuss where more posts were needed and to make the case for the need for stouter posts, one already having been broken and another cracked.
Mr Wallace was shown the unfinished end of the path opposite Wilson Drive. He agreed
to erect two or three more posts and to finish the end of the path. If thicker posts are to be installed, it will be as replacements for the original posts are required.
Below see a copy of a letter from the Chairman of the Parish Council to Henry Bellingham MP concerning the closure of the Permissive Footpaths
Dear Mr. Bellingham,
Closure of permissive paths in East Winch and West Bilney on 30th September 2014.
I know I am not the first to write to you about the closure of these paths, and I will probably not be the last, as there is a great deal of public concern about it. I understand from others who have already corresponded with you that the current Defra programme, which does not include paths, cannot be altered and is due to last for a further eight years, when another will be put in its place.
Even so, I think I should write to you now to express the views of the community, as the consequences of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme were probably not foreseen by Defra and will need to be reconsidered if there is any future pathways scheme.
I suspect that, in encouraging and subsidising farmers to create permissive paths, Defra was intending to open up areas hitherto closed to the public, and this, I hope, happened in some places.
In East Winch, by contrast, paths which had been freely used suddenly were designated "permissive". No one realised then that ten years later all use of the paths was to be stopped! The effect of the Defra scheme has thus been to reduce calamitously the walking space available.
East Winch is not well endowed with places to walk. There's a right of way running from the A47 at the western end of the village diagonally across a field towards Grandcourt Farm. The path it originally met up with has disappeared because of mineral extraction, and soon it will itself suffer the same fate. There's a bridleway from the bottom of Church Lane to Blackborough End, but on the wrong side of the A47 for most people in the village.
East Winch Common is lovely, if boggy in wet weather, but it too is on the wrong side of the A47. Some people cross the road with their dogs: the elderly are unlikely to attempt it.
At present, the paths on the north side of the A47 are very well used by young and old alike. Elderly people, who wouldn't cross the main road, can exercise and meet friends.The paths keep them healthy and happy and nothing can replace them.
The permissive path at Priory Farm, Blackborough End is due to close in 2018, and the Westacre Estate has several, all closing in 2019, so this problem will not go away for several years. Oddly enough, it's rural communities which are most likely to be adversely affected, as there are very few formal green spaces like the parks in towns where people can walk.
While there may be a partial remedy through registering some paths as rights of way, it will take several years, as the indications are that the landowner will contest such applications. Meanwhile, walkers will have to use the roads.
The Parish Council is divided on this issue, but I can speak for all in emphasising how vital it is that footpaths should be provided for in Defra's next scheme. Please raise the matter at the highest level and ensure it gets proper consideration as early as possible.
Parish Council chairman.