Question from: County Councillor James Gibson-Watt Subject: Public footpath on the site of Ysgol Gwmraeg y Trallwng
Powys County Council’s Planning and Rights of Way Committee has recently agreed to the stopping up of a public footpath on the site of the above school. There is now a period of public consultation on the footpath closure and I understand an objection has been received.
Could the Portfolio Holder for Education explain:-
a) Why the application to stop up the public footpath was only made very recently, given that the Council has known for many months that the land across which it passes would be needed for the new building project?
b) Has an assessment been made about how long it may take to resolve this issue?
c) Whether the Council will face increased costs caused by standing down the building contractors at short notice while the matter is resolved?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
a. Why the application to stop up the public footpath was only made very recently, given that the Council has known for many months that the land across which it passes would be needed for the new building project?
The initial plan was to create a diversion of the existing footpath. Although a diversion application can be made in advance of planning permission being granted, we had to take into consideration that the actual diversion order cannot be confirmed until planning permission has been granted. With this in mind, a pre-consultation on the diversion of the path commenced in November 2020 which was during the determination of the planning application.
Feedback from the PROW stakeholders during the pre-consultation was that they could see there was no value in re-routing the path to the bypass due to safety issues. The path would be naturally stopped at the fence line from which there is a steep embankment and then you are straight on the bypass. This is a legacy issue from when the bypass was built in 1993. All stakeholders that were present at that meeting were in agreement and in support of changing the diversion application to a stopping-up application.
At this point we had to wait until receiving planning permission. This was granted on 3rd December 2020, however the Listed Building Consent did not receive planning permission until 16th February 2021 due to several queries raised. Once the LBC planning permission was confirmed, a report was written and presented to the PTL&ROW Committee 8th April 2021 to seek permission to make the public path order after which we could commence the formal consultation period from 16th April 2021.
b. Has an assessment been made about how long it may take to resolve this issue?
Officers have made contact with the objector to clarify any issues raised and try to gain an agreed resolution. However, it is unclear at the moment how long this resolution will take.
c. Whether the Council will face increased costs caused by standing down the building contractors at short notice while the matter is resolved?
The contractor has not been stood down. Officers are currently working with the contractor to review the programme of works and identify pieces of work that could be done whilst waiting for this public right of way issue to be resolved. However, if the issue is not resolved satisfactorily, further legal advice will be required regarding the contract, and further assessment of costs due to time-delay will be carried out.