The Right of Way on Green Lane

Public Enquiry: Oct 2007

Heidi Robbins

The public enquiry into the status of Green Lane from Scrooby to Serlby took place at Sutton-cum-Lound village hall on the 9th and 10th October 2007. A large number of local people turned out on the morning of the 9th, including those who had made objections to Notts County Council's plan to designate the lane a byway open to all traffic (Green Lane is currently a permissive bridleway and has no public right of way along it). The Planning Inspector chairing the meeting, Mr Barney Grimshaw, explained at the outset that the objections made by the public, which were to do with issues of desirability, safety etc, could not be given any weight in his decision, as he could only decide the case on the basis of the legal evidence. Nevertheless he allowed members of the public to express their opinions during the course of the enquiry so that everyone felt they had had their say.

The Council's case hinged on the interpretation of the 1777 Scrooby Enclosure Award which they argued designated Green Lane as a public bridleway and private carriageway for Viscount Galway and his tenants in the parish of Harworth, but effectively granted public rights of vehicular access by also allowing the inhabitants of Scrooby and people doing business in Scrooby to use the road. They backed this up with later historical map evidence which they interpreted as showing that Green Lane was used as a public highway.

The objector, Mr Kevin McDonald of Serlby Hall, and his legal team based their argument upon a different understanding of the 1777 Award. They argued that the Council's definition of 'public' was wrong and that the 19th-century maps were not evidence of a later dedication of Green Lane as a public carriageway.

The County Council were obliged to undertake the modification order of Green Lane because the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act requires them to define rights of way where they are in doubt. In this case, because of the objections to the modification order, the case went to public enquiry with all the public expense that entails. The Inspector noted at the beginning of the enquiry that the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act may apply in this case. This act curtails the inappropriate use of byways by motor vehicles by putting an end to claims for motor vehicle access on the basis of historical use by horse-drawn vehicles.

The Inspector's report was published on 24th October 2007 and can be viewed on this site. He took the view that the Inclosure Award of 1777 created a public bridleway but not a public vehicular route. However, the later historical maps suggest the existence of a public vehicular route. The route may therefore have become a public vehicular way after 1777 and before 1847. The Inspector went on to say that the 2006 NERC act did apply in this case so the order for the route to become a BOAT should be modified to a Restricted Byway so there will be no right of way for vehicles. He specifies a width of 10m for the byway.

Both Notts County Council and Kevin McDonald have lodged objections to this judgement and further documentary evidence has been submitted. As yet there is no final resolution to the matter.

Final Decision: Oct 2009

Graham Robbins, October 2009

Having considered all the written submissions by the Council, Kevin Macdonald and others, the Inspector has made a decision on the status of the public right of way along Green Lane. He considers that:

  • The Enclosure Act established a bridleway but not a Byway Open to All Traffic
  • The subsequent landowners did not have the power to dedicate the land as a Byway Open to All Traffic, as the land was held in trust.
  • The weight he previously gave to the Railway route evidence in favour of the route being a Byway Open to All Traffic, was unwarranted.

His decision is therefore to make Green Lane a 10m wide public bridleway, and not a Byway Open to All Traffic.