Rights of Way Improvement Plan consultation

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We are currently undertaking the first 10 year review of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.

The requirement to produce this plan arose from the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 and with it there is a duty to review the plan on a 10 year basis.

In late 2016 we sought views from the general public, landowners and town and community councils on how often people use the network, what barriers exist and what people would like to see prioritised in terms of improvements. 

This page sets out what you told us: 

78% of respondents said they used the rights of way network all year round come rain or shine

The most popular recreational trails used were Offa’s Dyke, Glyndwr’s Way and the Wye Valley Walk. 

Walking was the most popular reason for using the network. Running, scouting sessions, mountain biking, fishing, shooting, climbing and taking part in running type events were all listed. 

The key problems were poor way marking and signage, overgrown paths, styles or gates being unsuitable for the user and obstructions like a fallen tree blocking a path etc.

When given a list of priorities and asked to place these in order respondents choose “General maintenance - opening up and maintaining routes and trails including installing gates and stiles and clearing overgrown vegetation” as their first choice closely followed by “Way marking and signage - maintaining and erecting more way markers to help people navigate the network on the public rights of way at entrances to access land “ and then “Resolving anomalies - working with landowners to resolve issues around things like access to cul-de-sacs paths etc.”

Information posted on the council’s website which highlights the routes and the definitive map followed by information boards positioned at the start of or at a half way point of a route were deemed to be the most useful forms of information the team could provide for users of the network.

Creating new local circular routes was considered more important than creating long distance routes as was negotiating with landowners to open up blocked rights of way rather than taking enforcement action at the earliest opportunity. Overwhelmingly respondents also felt that equal priority should be given to recreational trails and other public rights of way.

78% of respondents said they used the rights of way network all year round come rain or shine

The most popular recreational trails used were Offa’s Dyke, Glyndwr’s Way and the Wye Valley Walk. 

Walking was the most popular reason for using the network. Running, scouting sessions, mountain biking, fishing, shooting, climbing and taking part in running type events were all listed. 

The key problems were poor way marking and signage, overgrown paths, styles or gates being unsuitable for the user and obstructions like a fallen tree blocking a path etc.

When given a list of priorities and asked to place these in order respondents choose “General maintenance - opening up and maintaining routes and trails including installing gates and stiles and clearing overgrown vegetation” as their first choice closely followed by “Way marking and signage - maintaining and erecting more way markers to help people navigate the network on the public rights of way at entrances to access land “ and then “Resolving anomalies - working with landowners to resolve issues around things like access to cul-de-sacs paths etc.”

Information posted on the council’s website which highlights the routes and the definitive map followed by information boards positioned at the start of or at a half way point of a route were deemed to be the most useful forms of information the team could provide for users of the network.

Creating new local circular routes was considered more important than creating long distance routes as was negotiating with landowners to open up blocked rights of way rather than taking enforcement action at the earliest opportunity. Overwhelmingly respondents also felt that equal priority should be given to recreational trails and other public rights of way.

62 out of the 71 land owners had a public right of way that crossed their land.

15 felt that their right of way made a positive contribution to both tourism in the area and provided social interaction for them.  11 felt it was educational, 7 felt it was beneficial as users reported problems they may have seen to them that they were not necessarily aware of and 2 said it allowed people to get some fresh air.

The top five problems that caused landowners difficulties were people not closing gates after them, trespassing, dogs being off leads, people getting lost and people littering.

11 had local circular routes that crossed their land and 10 had long distance ones.

33 out of the 57 who answered the question said they were aware of their legal duties in relation to the rights of way on their land.  However five weren’t and 19 were not sure. 

Landowners were more satisfied than dissatisfied with the provision and quality of the furniture provided, the helpfulness of staff from the service but were not content with way marking and signage, work carried out to the network surface and the definitive map. 

Landowners rated their top five priorities as way marking, general maintenance of the network, educating the public about the countryside and the access, resolving anomalies and sustaining the provision of promoted local and long distance trails/routes.  There did appear to be a specific problem with some users leaving gates open.

14 town and community councils responded.  Of these three said they were always involved in the maintenance of existing routes and also with the production of leaflets and guides to promote their rights of way locally.   Six said they were sometimes involved at this level. 

General maintenance of the network and way marking were clearly the two key things that councils felt needed to be a top priority.  Following this was resolving anomalies, working to create school routes, working on the definitive map, looking at routes that promoted health and access management.

One council had always worked to establish a walking group whilst six others said they were sometimes involved in doing so.   

In terms of suitability of the network, it was clear that in the main walkers, dog walkers and horse riders would in the view of the town and community council’s rate the network as good.  People with mobility difficulties, families with pushchairs and those using horse drawn carriages would class it as poor.

Monitoring and reporting obstructions, helping to maintain some of the network and working to secure and support circular routes were things town and community councils were already doing.  Offers were made around helping to improve signage and walk a route to give feedback were given by a couple. One council had set up a walking group (Walkers Are Welcome Montgomery) and were planning a walking festival and wanted to be more involved in promoting routes and carrying out low level maintenance. A few were keen for updates on specific routes including a cycle route through Maes Y Dre, progress on a modification order for Graig Lane in Berriew and the Montytrax. 

What does the plan do?

The ten year plan sets out how the council is going to identify, prioritise and plan for any improvements to the local rights of way network and other land with public access – and in doing so make better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians, carriage drivers, off road motorists and people with mobility problems.

We will be seeking your views again soon

We are now drafting a new improvement plan for the next ten years which takes account of your feedback, our budget and the network evaluation (health check) that has been completed.  We will be seeking your views on this draft plan during a 12 week consultation in the autumn.     The consultation will be available here soon

See our summary of the key findings here

County Councillor Jonathan Wilkinson, Cabinet member for Countryside Services said:

"Our public rights of way network offers residents and tourists alike choices galore in being able to enjoy our beautiful countryside. Not only does our network boost people’s health and well-being, it also a key asset in terms of our bringing money into economy.  Our revised plan will aim to protect and enhance our network further for all to enjoy.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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