Issue - decisions

Diversion of Public Footpath 91 Darwen (part)

26/03/2024 - Diversion of Public Footpath 91 Darwen (part)

A report was submitted to seek approval from the Members of the committee for a public path order under the Highways Atc 1980, Section 119 to divert part of Public Footpath 91 Darwen.


The Council is Highway & Surveying Authority for the area within which the public footpath proposed for diversion lies. Each year public rights of way officers survey a random 10% sample of the PROW network to give an indication of the current state of the network. Several years ago, FP91 Darwen was surveyed as part of this process and officers identified an obstruction of the route by gates at the entrance to Lords Hall and a retaining wall structure to the west of the grounds.


The then owner of Lords Hall when approached by officers regarding these obstructions insisted that the definitive line of the footpath was not through the grounds of the house but around the land lying to the south side of the entrance gates to Lords Hall. The Property changed hands in 2016 and, at the time of the purchase, the new owner was made aware of the ongoing issue of obstructions on Footpath 91 Darwen through the Hall’s grounds.


Following the change in ownership, negotiations were had with the new owner who accepted the Council’s position and, as a result, the Council received an application on the 4th October 2022 requesting the diversion of Footpath 91 Darwen.


This report seeks to address those matters being put before members of the Committee, namely the application for the public path order to divert part of the path as shown on the plan attached to this report. It seeks to advise members of the Committee of the outcome of non-statutory consultations, and an assessment against the relevant legislative criteria, thus enabling them to consider whether, or not to promote the Order requested.


The initial application sought to use a route further north of Lords Hall which the applicant felt gave walkers a more pleasant experience. A preliminary consultation on this route was carried out with users/interest groups to which objections were received. The predominant objection was with regard to the steep gradients with little scope for improvement. After further discussions between the officers and the applicant, the diversion route which is the subject of this report was agreed by all parties. The applicant has confirmed that the new path will be provided to a standard that is to the satisfaction of the Highway Authority.


A further preliminary consultation with users/interest groups was undertaken for this new route to which no objections were received. Public Footpath 91 Darwen currently starts on Duckshaw Road at Point A (SD 68480 20250) on the attached plan heading in a generally southerly direction to the access gates to Lords Hall at Point B (SD 68446 20035), through the grounds of the Hall to Point C (SD 68364 20049) and then in a generally westerly direction to via Point D (SD 68289 20146) to join Public Footpath 89 Darwen at Point E (SD 68126 20080).

The proposed diversion seeks to change the direction of the footpath at point B prior to the gates at the entrance to Lords Hall (SD 68446 20035) leaving Duckshaw Road in a southerly direction for some 42m metres south to Point F (SD 68419 20006). The proposed diversion then heads in a north westerly direction for 62m to rejoin the existing line of footpath 91 at Point C (SD 68364 20049)


There is evidence that this route has already been used by walkers during the years when the route through the grounds of Lords Hall has been obstructed.


RESOLVED – That the Committee Promote the Order and authorise the Director of HR, Legal & Governance to progress the necessary legal orders.