After all our efforts and a Local Public Inquiry that we thought went as well as we could have hoped, the Inspector has determined the Order and decided against our appeal.
In his decision letter, a copy of which is available on the Planning Inspectorate website, the Inspector accepted that our witnesses were convincing and that they indeed walked the route along with others but he put a lot of emphasis on the lack of mention of the closing of the path back in 1975 in the Parish Council minutes. He noted that the Council had made comment on what was a ‘permissive’ path that turned left at the end of Bradmere and headed across to the ‘Cinder Track’ and on to Newton – but was silent on our Garden Fields to Bradmere Lane ‘Order Route’. If the route really was ‘used by the wider public’, surely the PC minutes would have made comment. On this basis he concluded that whilst the path had been used, there was an insufficient amount and frequency of the use for public rights to have come into being.
More than 40 came to our little Village Hall for the footpath inquiry on January 21 2015.
The Inspector came, the Inspector listened. Both advocates knew the inspector. Both trust him to make the ‘right’ decision.
Cambridgeshire County Council came, but said nothing – they were very impartial!
The objector, or indeed their advocate, came – oddly on his own – and with no witnesses.
Our man, Robin Carr, introduced our 10 witnesses.
Each said their piece.
Robin in some cases asked for a little bit more, but preferred generally to let the stories flow in response to polite but incisive questioning from the opposition.
All of our witnesses, aged 45 to 83 were wonderful, telling it just as it was and standing up so, so well to the real pressure of polite but skilled cross examination.
Our witnesses were all consistent, coherent and convincing – thank you so so much.
The opposition summed up. Our man, Robin responded.
And it was all over on day one – day two not needed.
The Inspector now has to weigh up our tested evidence against mainly:
-Two men’s written and declared evidence – but evidence not subject to cross examination - that the path was blocked by an impenetrable stock proof fence half way along its length before 1975.
-The oddity that the Parish Council applied way back when to make Bradmere Lane a public footpath – but not our route.
-The oddity that the Parish Council did not make more fuss in 1975 when both sides agree the path was blocked at both ends.
-The fact that this was all 40-60 years ago and memories fade.
He has a tough job. Rather him than me.
The Inspector hoped we will have his decision in 6 weeks – our man cautions we will wait at least 3 months!
So, we wait – again – but I am happy we did what we could.
Thanks again to everyone who has helped on the way – too many to mention, but particularly to
-the original 8 person committee that interviewed 40+ witnesses way back in 2005/6
-Peter Deane, one of that committee, who brought his enthusiasm to that committee from the previous group
-Guy Brown, who was brilliant with our written submissions and at marshalling all the ‘proofs of evidence’
-Andrew Ray, our resident lawyer, who was dispatched to get people to sign up to their ‘statutory declarations’
-Tim Leech who researched and presented on the mapping and aerial photographs today
-Marjorie Westbrook, who was part of the group that started this whole thing off some 12 years ago and finished it today as one of our star witnesses.
If we were to
convince the inspector, the first thing the Parish Council will do will be to
try to talk with the affected landowner. While the path would be a public right
of way, in reality the only people likely to walk it are local people. If there
were particular days or times of year when walking the route might cause a
special problem, the Parish Council could have a system for requesting that the
path was not used on those days.
Footpath campaign to be decided in 2014.
A 12 year campaign to have the footpath between Garden Fields and Bradmere Lane reinstated will be decided in 2014.
Way back in 2009, more than 20 people gave statements confirming
that they walked the route in the past. Of those, 16 walked it in the critical
20 year period up to 1975 when it was closed off with barbed wire by the landowner.
14 of those are still with us.
Cambridgeshire County Council decided in early 2013 to
reject the bid for them to make an order for a public footpath despite the
strong body of evidence from local people. The Parish Council appealed against
In Autumn 2013, the Government's Planning Inspectorate sided with the Parish
Council and the people of Little Shelford. They agreed there was ‘a reasonable
allegation of a path’, allowed the appeal and required the County Council to
make an ‘order’ for a public footpath.
Now one landowner has objected, This means that a public
enquiry is very likely to take place in the village in 2014 to decide, once and
for all, whether the route should be made a public footpath. We will have to
show, with our witnesses, that ‘on the
balance of probabilities’ there was a path.
Even at this late stage, if you can remember walking the
route and would like your evidence to be taken into account, please get in
Look out for further information on this page. If and when it happens, we hope to have your support at the public
Chair, Footpaths Subcommittee, Little Shelford Parish
01223 842 998
Richard Patterson appeared on ITV on February 21 to talk about the campaign.
Posted Feb 20 2014
Footpath bid rejected
Proposals to create a footpath between Garden Fields and Bradmere Lane have been refused.
In a letter to Little Shelford Parish Council dated May 2 2013, Cambridgeshire County Council stated:
"May I thank you for the comprehensive work undertaken by your Parish Council in support of the application to add a route between Garden Fields and Bradmere Lane in Little Shelford as a public footpath. Having carefully considered all the material provided to me, I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence of use during the identified period to allow an order to be made.
"I would add that the evidence of use of a path is not sufficiently greater than that presented when an application relating to this issue was dismissed at appeal in 2007.
""As the applicant you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State against the decision not to make an order. Any appeal made within 28 days of the date of this letter (May 2) to Rights of Way Team, The Planning Inspectorate, Room3/25, Hawk Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS! 6PN.
"You can get further information on the appeal process by writing to that address or from this website:
Once again, may I thank you for the professional way in which your council has presented its case.
The Parish Council will now need to decide at its next meeting on May 22 whether it will appeal or not.
An initial enquiry by Cambridgeshire County Council says that there is no evidence that a footpath ever existed along the route- even though more than 20 people have given statements saying that they used the path in the past.
The report says that the area was sealed off in 1975 when Jack Fordham, who owns Hall farm at one end of the route, also bought White’s Farm. The report states that the focus should be on whether the alleged path was used between 1955 and 1975.
16 people state in the report that they used the path during that period.
Mr Fordham claims that a hedge would have prevented people being able to walk the full length of the path between 1955 and 1975. However villagers who gave statements say that there was a gap in the hedge.
The path was not shown on any maps of the area during the 20th century.
A final decision will be made by John Onslow, Director of Infrastructure Management & Operations, at Cambridgeshire County Council at the end of March.
The enquiry report is attached as PDFs at the bottom of this page. Also attached are the Little Shelford Parish Council response and the expert response by Rowtac.
Send your comments to email@example.com
Posted May 2013
Footpath sign unveiled
A new information sign featuring the new Clay Pits footpath and highlighting the Bradmere Lane path and wildlife likely to be spotted in the area has been installed by the Little Shelford Footpath Group near the village pond. A picnic table is also going to be installed shortly in the same area. Watch the installation here.
Left to right: Shelagh MacKenzie, Guy Radcliffe-Brown and Richard Patterson from the Footpath Group with Chris Went from the sign suppliers, Filcris. You can see more photos on the Filcris website here.
Footpath enquiry starts
The enquiry into an alleged footpath route from Garden Fields to Bradmere Lane started in February. The Parish Council has heard from the Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) Rights of Way & Access Team that it plans to write to all the 24 witnesses whose evidence was included in our submission relating to the route from Garden Fields to Bradmere Lane. CCC plans to offer one-to-one interviews in the week commencing 27 February 2012. We hope our witnesses will be able to respond positively or offer an alternative time.
Footpaths in Little ShelfordThe Whittlesford Road Verge Path (marked as dotted line on the map below) runs from Courtyards along the Whittlesford Road. This is a new grass path within a wide verge running beside fields. The path provides access to other walks:
Dernford Farm and Great Shelford:
The Verge path runs beside Whittlesford Road down to the public footpath on the left hand side at Rectory Farm. This path follows the edge of the field and goes through Dernford Farm and over the railway line, passing the Dernford Quarry and rejoining the Stapleford Road. This road leads back in to Great Shelford and keen walkers can complete the circuit by walking back along the road to Little Shelford.
Bradmere Lane and Clay Pits:
By crossing the road from the Verge path just after the road turns off to Little Shelford High Street, walkers can access the public footpath of Bradmere Lane. This passes the village pond, which is a good picnic spot and has some limited parking. The pond is maintained by the village Wildlife group. Bradmere lane is unpaved, but has a good walking surface and provides a pleasant access to the Clay Pits path. This new path is a short loop round the village Clay Pits, which originally provided clay to be used by the villagers for their houses and roads. It is now a wildlife haven and there are several species of wild orchid growing there. Walkers are asked to keep to the path to preserve the wildlife. At the end of Bradmere Lane, the Parish ditch can be seen running along the edge of the field.
Bridle path to Newton
By continuing further down the Whittlesford verge path, walkers can cross the road to access the Bridle path on the right hand side of the road to Newton. This is a broad path, running over the motorway and across the fields to Newton.