A couple of months ago the Local Government Ombudsman criticised the York Council for the time it was taking in dealing with applications to have Public Rights of Way (PROW) declared.
The Council has a long waiting list. It can sometimes take several years for the applications to be processed.
Two applications are to be considered by the Council at a meeting being held on 25th July. They concern public footpaths at the following locations
- between Chantry Lane, Bishopthorpe and Acaster Malbis
- in woodland adjacent to Windmill Lane, Heslington
The meeting on 18th July will be told that government legislation will make some aspects of PROW decision making simpler.
The Deregulation Act 2015 will have an effect on historic rights of way.
The Act makes changes to existing legislation affecting rights of way aimed at streamlining the application procedures for new rights of way under which landowners will have a greater say.
The key area of improvement relates to the process for determining applications.
Local Authorities are given the power to divert a route at the application stage should it not be suitable (for example where it runs through property such as working yards where there is a significant risk).
Other changes include restrictions on how long an application can remain at each stage of the process, gating of rights of way and the introduction of a basic evidence test. Many of the changes are aimed at ‘historic rights of way’ – routes based on documentary evidence from before 1949.
In order to provide certainty for landowners about what rights of way exist on their land, the government intends to close the definitive maps to claims of historic paths which existed before 1949 on 1 January 2026
NB. Amongst the PROW applications in the York Council queue to be considered is one, crossing Acomb Moor, linking Foxwood Lane to Osprey Close. Safety on the link has been criticised because of lack of maintenance of one of the stile accesses.