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TL14  Protecting and Extending Public Rights of Way  Policy

The Local Planning Authority will have special regard to protecting the character of rural rights of way and will seek to enhance and extend the network of public rights of way where new routes are required in order to;

(i) redirect visitor pressure away from sensitive areas for agriculture or nature conservation;

(ii) retain or improve access to features of importance such as historic settlements, countryside recreation facilities or scenic viewpoints; or

(iii) provide missing links in the existing network of public rights of way.

New routes, to be made available in the first instance on a permissive or informal basis, may be sought by means of legal agreement or ,where appropriate, as a condition of planning consent.

Reasoned justification :

10.46 The network of public rights of way, especially within the Borough's rural areas, is a popular and valuable asset for tourism and countryside recreation. It is the subject of a separate Rights of Way Strategy for Wirral prepared by the Council’s Leisure Services and Tourism Department. The Strategy sets out a series of targets for the management and maintenance of rights of way throughout the Borough and forms the basis for an Action Plan setting out priorities for the development of rights of way in Wirral. The role of the UDP, however, is more limited.

10.47 The definition, closure and diversion of statutory rights of way are primarily subject to statutory procedures falling outside the Town and Country Planning Acts. Nevertheless, the planning system can still play a role in regulating the
impact of new development upon existing rights of way and, where appropriate, can promote the establishment of new routes. Policy TL14, therefore, sets out the approach that the Local Planning Authority will adopt when considering development likely to affect an existing right of way and when considering the need for new routes to be established.

10.48 Policy TL14 does not require rights of way with statutory status to be imposed upon applicants. It only allows for permissive routes to be negotiated. However, whether such routes are to be the subject of planning condition or voluntary agreement will depend upon the circumstances in which they are required. For example, new routes provided in order to satisfy Policy AG1, which can be found in Section 12 of the UDP, or Policy NC3, which can be found in Section 13, will normally be required by means of condition or legal agreement, whereas routes provided in order to promote the wider enjoyment of the countryside will normally be subject to voluntary negotiation in accordance with the objectives of the Rights of Way Strategy for Wirral.

10.49 The need for a new route will also largely depend upon the location and scale of the proposal involved. Extensive open land-uses, such as golf courses or other uses which would otherwise introduce a significant barrier to public movement throughout the countryside, will normally always be required to make adequate alternative provision for public rights of way.