Dean Grove footpath case goes to Inspector
Oxfordshire County Council has referred the proposed change of status of the footpath through Dean Grove back to the Inspector appointed by the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
DEFRA ordered OCC to make the order, which it did in March, meanwhile announcing a consultation. The order has to be confirmed before it comes into effect.
In submitting the consultation responses to DEFRA, OCC says:
“As noted above, Oxfordshire County Council has determined that, as no new, relevant evidence has been adduced that has not previously been considered, that it adopt a neutral stance in respect of the confirmation of this Order and it will be for the Inspector who considers the evidence in this matter to determine whether the Order is confirmed. Comments made on the objections by the County Council are limited to providing clarification where necessary.
“In any event, the Council is of the view that the Order cannot be confirmed as it is, given that any rights for mechanically propelled vehicles that might be shown to exist, would have been extinguished by NERCA 2006 over the section B to C on the Order plan.”
The second paragraph refers to an objection made by Diana Mallinson, of the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement, who noted that the section over the Coldron Brook bridge was formally part of a different footpath (Spelsbury footpath 19 rather than 44), which for technical reasons is not exempt from the 2006 Act which restricted motor vehicle rights. This objection argues, and OCC agrees, that the section over the bridge cannot be reclassified as a Byway Open to All Traffic and therefore the order, as currently phrased, is not valid.
You can download the full submission, including all responses from local people, at https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/03092.PI/consultationHome. The full file is 105MB. Diana Mallinson’s objections are considered on p25–27 and p177.