Last August the Association responded to the Hertfordshire County Council Rights of Way Service regarding a consultation to divert Thorley Bridleway 10 and Sawbridgeworth Footpath 1 as a consequence of planning permission granted in 2013 for the construction of an agricultural reservoir on land between Thorley Church and Thorley Wash Farm. We asked the Rights of Way Service to use the Consultation as an opportunity to address the long-standing problem of Thorley Bridleway 10 not following its legal route through the Thorley Wash Farm residential development. The legal route is blocked and bridleway users are following the farm track to the north of Thorley Wash Farm. The Association considered that it would make sense for this route to be registered as the official right of way. The initial response from the Rights of Way Service Officer was not encouraging but we are delighted to confirm that they have reconsidered the matter having received similar feedback from almost every consultee.
The full statement from the Definitive Map Officer, Access & Rights of Way Service is detailed below.
You will recall that I consulted with you upon an application to divert part of Thorley Bridleway 10 under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA) because of an application for an agricultural pond and the extraction of minerals south of Bishop’s Stortford. At the time the proposals were to divert the bridleway around the southern edge of Thorley Wood, which lies to the south of the A1184 east of Thorley village. It was also planned to divert Thorley Footpath 11 to join the bridleway.
The bridleway is obstructed in several places and members of the public habitually use the existing track in the alternative to the definitive line. When I carried out the consultation the overwhelming response from almost every consultee was that they would like the bridleway and the footpath to be diverted onto the used track, whilst taking into account the extraction works.
As a result of those responses we have discussed an alternative proposal with the landowner and Ingrebourne Valley Ltd, who are carrying out the extraction works. Instead of making a diversion order under the TCPA we propose to make a diversion under section 119 of the Highways Act 1980, which will allow us to divert the extent of the paths that the public requested to be diverted during the consultation. These paths are Thorley Bridleway 10 and the footpath that is recorded as Thorley Footpath 11 and Sawbridgeworth 1. The suggested diversion is as shown on the attached overview plan as well as the attached draft order, and can be described as follows:
- To divert the bridleway from the point at which it leaves the track south of Thorley village, to run east across the haulage track, around the southern side of Thorley Wood to rejoin the track on the east side of the wood, and then follow that track until it joins the A1184 north of Thorley Grange. The bridleway that will be deleted is shown between points A-B-C on the plan, whilst the bridleway to be created is shown between points A-H-J-K.
- To divert the footpath to follow the used line from the A1184 to head generally north west until it joins the proposed new line of the bridleway by the small pond on the south east corner of Thorley Wood. The footpath to be deleted is shown between points B-F, whilst the footpath to be created is shown between points J-F.
Some works will be required for this, so that the bridleway can cross the haulage road and through the hedge to run around the southern boundary of the wood. Gaps will be cut in the fences and hedge, and a bridle bridge constructed over the ditch. The bund will be flattened where the bridleway crosses it, and waymarks and warning signs will be installed to make all traffic aware of the junction.
Some of you will know that the footpath to be deleted does not appear to join the bridleway on the current edition of the Definitive Map, and you may have concerns that the legal tests for a Highways Act diversion order cannot be met. I hope to assure you that the footpath does join the bridleway, as the Definitive Statement describes Thorley Footpath 11 as “Commences at junction with BR10 at S corner of Thorley Wood thence SE to London Road”. Additionally, the earlier editions of the Definitive Map (copy attached) show the two paths joining, which suggests that the current gap is the result of a mapping error at some point during the republication process.