Dorset Council has been asked, by the Trail Riders Fellowship (https://www.trf.org.uk/) to “correct” the definitive map of rights of way and record the South Dorset Ridgeway between the bridge over the relief road section of the A354 and the top of Goulds Hill as a byway open to all traffic or “BOAT”.
The original application was made long before the construction of the relief road, but was held up by a connected Court case. The Council now has to consider the application.
The Upwey Society has objected. What we said was:
“The Society believes that the Council should not make the requested orders.
Our primary reason is that any existing right of way for mechanically propelled vehicles (without our accepting that there was such a right) was extinguished by Section 67 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. None of the exceptions in Section 67 apply. Specifically the exceptions in subsection (2) are not relevant in this case. To take them in turn:
- In relation to (2)(a), the main use of the bridleways by the public was not by mechanically propelled vehicles in the 5 years before May 2006. They were predominantly used by walkers, both local and long distance (BR39 was then part of the South West Coast Path). They were also used by horse-riders. Use by farm traffic, not the main use in any event, would have been for private access to nearby fields by David Foot Ltd.
- The bridleways were not, to our knowledge, on the list referred to in (2)(b).
- (2)(c) would have required the bridleways to have been created on terms expressly providing for mechanically propelled vehicles. They are part of a pre-historic ridgeway route and were defined as public carriageways at the time of the Upwey Inclosures of 1838, predating mechanical propulsion!
- 2(d) does not apply.
- The right of way was not created by virtue of use by mechanical vehicles as (2)(e) would require. (See the earlier observation on their antiquity and formalisation.)
Self-evidently the application for the new BOAT joining the Dorchester Road cannot be allowed. Since the construction of the relief road, the right of way does not exist, and nor does the point at which it would have met the Dorchester Road.
In any event the bridleways are unsuitable and impracticable for public use by motor vehicles. If they were in use as BOATs there would be nowhere for traffic to legally exit to the east. The C54 minor road (open to the A354 when the application was made) is now only a bridleway as it crosses the relief road. Traffic would perhaps be tempted to illegally use the old A354, which is also now only a bridleway. Using the proposed BOAT as a through route would mean using the Old Roman Road (the continuation of The Ridgeway) to join or leave it. This would be undesirable for a number of reasons, not least the speed at which off-road vehicles already sometimes travel down the steep metalled part of the Ridgeway. (At present such vehicles legally use the Old Roman Road, to or from the junction with the bridleways, illegally using the bridleways to the west, the bridleways or the farm track to the east, and often the old A354).”
A planning application for 18 houses on the open space behind Dorchester Road and Elwell Street was rejected by the Council in 2019 (see previous news page). The Upwey Society had objected to the proposal.
Although the application was comprehensively rejected by the Council, the developer later resubmitted an application to the new Dorset Council for fundamentally the same scheme (with a few minor changes).
The Society objected to the development on exactly the same grounds as the first time, namely: that the application is contrary to local adopted policy; is situated outside the Defined Development Boundary; that it is within an area designated as an important open gap and the Upwey Conservation area.
Dorset Council did not decide the new application within the laid down timescales (the is nothing sopecial about that, the Council has a backlog!) The developer therefore invoked their right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (a central Government executive agency). The Upwey Society made a short submission referring the inspector to out porevious objection.
No decision has yet been made by the Planning Inspectorate.
Updated December 2019
Original Post of June 2019 –
Parts of a local ancient road are being widened and part-concreted. Many local residents are concerned about the work.
The track is usually known as the Old Roman Road. It leads from the top of The Ridgeway (above The Old Ship) to the South Dorset Ridgeway National Trail. It is a public highway, in the care of Dorset Council. It is inside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, in part, inside the Upwey Conservation Area.
The concreting has taken place over a number of years, but most recently in late May 2019. It is being done by owners of a small field off the track who have with no other connection to the area.
A meeting was held on 31 May to allow everyone to express their views and to see what action could be taken to protect a quiet rural lane from further damage. After that meeting a small group volunteered to take things forward. After discussion, and some investigation of the options, it was decided that the best approach was to develop contact with the right part of the Council as they were in the best place to discourage inappropriate treatment of the track and could, if necessary, take enforcement action.
Update, July 2019
We understand that the field owners and the Council’s Community Highways Officer have spoken and have agreed that when the owners are next in Dorset, this summer, they will meet to discuss the matter.
Update December 2019
The Council’s Community Highways Officer spoke to the field owners in late August, altough it was not until December that we were able to find out what was said. We understand that the field owners agreed not to do any more work without consulting the Council first. The Council do not intend to remove the concrete, or to require the field owners to remove it.
It was generally agreed that there was little more that could be done. for now. Residents would maintain a watching brief.
Updated December 2019
In April 2018 there was an application for outline permission to build seven detached houses on land behind Eastbrook House in Church Street. It has not yet been decided. It appears from the Council’s website that the application was withdrawn in November 2019.
You can find the application on the Council’s website here.
The Society objected. The primary reasons for objecting were that:
- it was outside the development boundary set in the Council-approved Local Plan, which identifies the particular area as important open space;
- sewerage in the area is unable to cope with existing demand, and there is no prospect of it being improved.
10 Church St planning objection