Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: MS Teams Virtual Meeting

Contact: Christina Beevers 

Media

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

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Minutes:

Members heard apologies from Richard Pushman and Councillor Nick Naylor.

 

David Briggs (Vice Chairman) would act as Chairman for the meeting.

2.

Declarations of Interest

To disclose any Personal or Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

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Minutes:

There were none.

3.

Minutes of the Last Meeting/ Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 451 KB

To confirm the minutes from the meeting held on 23 September 2020.

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:-

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd September 2020 be approved as a correct record.

4.

Definitive Map Modification Order Targets pdf icon PDF 272 KB

To be presented by Mr R Jennings, Cycling UK.

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Minutes:

Richard Jennings (Cycling UK) informed Members that he had raised concerns regarding delays to the processing of DMMO applications by Buckinghamshire Council, with some applications dated 2016. He had requested information on the status of current DMMO applications, what had caused the backlog and how future progress on applications would be reported against targets.

 

Helen Francis (Interim Definitive Map Team Leader) explained that her team had recently taken on two new staff who were beginning work on the existing DMMOs to reduce the backlog. This had come in the wake of a member of staff going on maternity leave which had temporarily reduced capacity. In addition, Helen confirmed that an advertisement had been posted to recruit a new Senior DM Officer. These expansions to the team were being made in anticipation of an increase in DMMO applications due to the Ramblers’, 'Don't Lose Your Way' campaign and to ensure that progress on reducing the existing backlog could continue as more applications came in.

 

Helen also stressed that structural changes following the move to the new Unitary Authority had disrupted work the processing of applications in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had reduced access to the Records Office and restricted opportunities for wider public consultation on applications. It was however hoped that between six and eight applications could be processed per year once the team was fully staffed and the working and social restrictions associated with the pandemic had begun to ease.

 

It was suggested to Members that the discussion regarding meeting DMMO targets in response to Richard Jennings’ request could be better addressed in Phil Fox’s outline of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan 2020 – 2030 in the subsequent agenda item. Members were agreeable to this suggestion.

5.

Rights Of Way Improvement Plan 2020 – 2030: Action Plan pdf icon PDF 163 KB

To be presented by Mr P Fox, Rights of Way Structures Inspector.

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Minutes:

Phil Fox (Rights of Way Structures Inspector) updated Members that the Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) to improve public rights of way had been approved by the Highways Board and published to the Council Website, detailing a ten-year Delivery Plan between 2020 and 2030. The plan was broken down into four sections, outlining the timescales to which the Communities, and Planning, Growth and Sustainability Directorates would operate to achieve their targets. These were as follows:

 

Year 1

1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021

Years 2-4

2021 – 2024

Years 5-7

2024 – 2027

Years 8-10

2027 – 2030

 

Phil explained that the first year had been separated due to Covid-19 disruption, and would be used to address less-complicated actions and achieve initial targets before the situation eased. Thereafter, three-year sections would be used to move through the remaining programme of work. Members were reminded that regular reviews would take place to examine progress, in which the Forum would play a part, and that a regular agenda item to discuss ROWIP developments might be considered for future meetings. The first review would be discussed at either the July or November meeting of the Forum dependent on Members’ preference.

 

Jon Clark asked for a suitable feedback window from the Forum on the progress of ROWIP. Following discussion with Members it was agreed that if the July meeting of the Forum was held in person, that the updates would be held there, if not, it would be taken at the November meeting. Phil confirmed that once Members had held the first review after the end of ‘Year 1’, that the Forum could decide to proceed with annual or triennial reviews as necessary.

6.

Rights of Way Group Report pdf icon PDF 282 KB

To be presented by- Mrs H Francis, Interim Definitive Map & Land Charges Team Leader; Mr J Clark, Strategic Access Officer; and Ms J Taylor, Operations Team Leader.

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Minutes:

Helen Francis drew Members’ attention to the list of ongoing work in the Rights of Way Group Report and asked for any questions on specific items of interest for discussion at the meeting. Neil Harris (National Trust) sought clarification on the point of contact for people seeking licences in relation to the Great and Little Kimble and Ellesborough – Prohibition Order along BOAT Nos. 40, 40A and 62. Ela Hackling (Definitive Map Officer) confirmed that application forms could be found on the Buckinghamshire Council Website, or people could email the Definitive Map Team’s mailbox at: row@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

 

David Briggs (NFU, CLA) requested that a greater distinction was made on future lists between those matters that had been resolved and those that were not, so as to enable a clearer understanding of progress being made. Helen Francis confirmed that she was happy to add a table to future reports outlining the number of new applications received and completed in the past year.

 

Jon Clark gave an overview of the Strategic Access Update in the report, which detailed increasing numbers of path closures due to construction work as part of the HS2 Railway project. A full list of closures and diversions was published to the Buckinghamshire Council Website. Following discussions with HS2 contractors at pre-application meetings, it was expected that by 1st April, this would amount to most of the network, with only one footpath – the Waddesdon Greenway – remaining open while construction takes place. Discussions would also be held with Andrew Clark (Chilterns Society) about proposed closures between Great Missenden and Wendover, including the Chiltern Way, which would close for four years.

 

Jon outlined some concerns he had over changes to the proposed diversions as initially agreed by Parliament in the HS2 Bill, which had been the cause of the extensive network closures. Under initial plans, much of the network would remain open through the construction of bridges along diversion routes, which would enable continued public access, while construction commenced underneath and along the original right of way. This had since been abandoned to ‘compress the construction period’. Jon had made contact to seek clarification on the legality of this change and would update the Forum when further information became available.

 

Jon confirmed that a new Access for All route would be created between Frith Hill in Great Missenden and Nash Lee lane in Wendover as part of the landscape mitigation works undertaken as part of HS2 construction. This would be done in collaboration with the Chilterns Conservation Board. Jon confirmed that the route could be shared with Members, should the confidentiality clause with HS2 allow for this. Equestrian access to this route was also being sought.

 

Richard Jennings asked that where HS2-related closures to rights of way were to occur, signage made the estimated reopening date clear to the public, so that overall use of the route did not decrease when construction was completed due to lack of public awareness. In addition, Richard requested that contact be made with the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

LAF Members’ Report pdf icon PDF 194 KB

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Minutes:

Jon Clark reminded Members that the Garden Way (part of the Aylesbury Garden Town initiative) was in its consultation stage, and encouraged Members to attend the design workshops on the proposed form and alignment of the project if they had not already done so. To express an interest or for further information, Members could contact Ulrika Diallo at: ulrika.diallo@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

 

Jon invited Members to consider the responses issued by the Forum to the Department of Transport and the Localities & Strategic Partnerships Service concerning the review of the Highway Code and the Proposed Public Spaces Protection Order respectively. The Chairman’s comments regarding the latter followed the Forum’s 7-1 vote in support of the 3-year renewal of the PSPO for Footpath 40 High Wycombe (HWU/80/1).

 

Brian Worrell (British Driving Society Beds, Bucks and Herts) provided an update from his attendance at the virtual Ridgeway Delivery Group meeting on 14th December 2020 with partners from neighbouring authorities and Ridgeway National Trail. Brian reported that a Ridgeway motorised driving leaflet is being drafted by the Ridgeway Officer and will liaise with carriage drivers.

 

Finally, Jon informed Members that, pending Member approval, the Local Access Forum Annual report - 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 would be published to the Buckinghamshire Council Website and Natural England’s Huddle page. Members were invited to give comments on the report’s accuracy to Jon before publication later in the week.

8.

Any Other Business

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Minutes:

David Briggs communicated some information he had received from the Chairman of the NFU regarding the use of a wide range of signage to ensure that as many people as possible were kept informed about the use of public rights of way.

 

Neil Harris highlighted the greatly increased numbers of visitors to sites such as Coombe Hill which was up by 300% and the concerns over damaged rights of way and parking issues that accompanied the higher footfall. It was hoped that as the social restrictions eased and more public spaces began to re-open later in the year, the concentration of people visiting those sites would decrease, allowing well-worn pathways to recover.

9.

Date of Next Meetings

Wednesday 14th July 2021- 10am

Wednesday 3rd November 2021- 10am.

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Minutes:

14th July, 2021

3rd November, 2021