In September 2009 Sheffield City Council (SCC) gave a notice that they wished to close 2 of the 3 bridleways which run across the Fox Hagg nature reserve near Lodge Moor. These plans were objected to by a number of different groups, so the proposal was taken to public enquiry, with Ride Sheffield putting in a combined objection with the CTC and the CPRE.
Today we received some great news with regards to the notice and as Steve Hardcastle put in a huge amount of work into this I will leave it to him to give the details:
Sorry that this update has taken so long to get up on the site after the initial posting of the outcome but the delights of work and Christmas have kept me far too busy. I’m not going to suggest that the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly but this particular project of Ride Sheffield’s started in September 2009, before Ride Sheffield actually existed! This has been my project at Ride Sheffield as I’d contacted the council about the work they were doing and potential changes to the rights of way in the area when they first posted information about it in September 2009. So it’s taken 25 months in the end to get from that initial information being posted around the trails in question to the outcome of the public inquiry a couple of weeks ago.
The background to this, for those who’ve not heard me bang on about it before, is that the council raised a request to downgrade 2 of the 3 bridleways which run from Lodge Lane car park across to the permissive bridleway (then footpath) that runs down to the bottom of Wyming Brook. They stated that the 2 lower paths were not needed and not suitable for use as a bridleways. They had planned a bigger package of works that involved the downgrade of these 2 bridleways but the upgrade of the footpath down to Wyming Brook and the one from the A57 that joins Lodge Lane half way up to bridleways all in one go. When the formal closure notice was posted, I wrote and submitted the objection on behalf of Ride Sheffield. Other objections were submitted by the CTC, the CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) and the Byways and Bridleways Trust against the closure as well. After discussions and a meeting with the council and conversations with the other objectors we decided that we would join together to produce our formal objection for review at the public enquiry and speak as one group. A lot of work by representatives from all the groups produced a very comprehensive objection letter and a number of members of Ride Sheffield responded to my request for personal objections to go with the letter and details for a list of users of the paths in question as supporting information to go with our case.
The inquiry was done by all parties writing written statements for review by the Inspector and we were then given the opportunity to read the other parties statements and add any further comments that we wished. The inspector then visited the site in November to view the area for himself. The order for closure was raised by the council on the basis that the paths were not needed due to the remaining bridleway running to and from roughly the same points. In his decision notice the Inspector agreed that not only were the bridleways currently used by cyclists and walkers but that he could see no reason why they would not continue to be so used in the future. He also agreed with the point we raised that as the Council had promised to dedicate footpaths in place of the bridleways should the closure order be successful that it seemed that the council themselves were suggesting that the rights of way would continue to be used and as such the closure order seemed out of place.
The main thing is that we managed to prevent the closure order going through and a such have retained the bridleways as they were for our continued legal use. Thanks to those who provided me with details to support the objection and also to Dan Cook at the CTC, Alan Kind at the Byways and Bridleways trust for his advice and support and also to John King and Andy Tickle at the CPRE.