Above: The notice appears at the junction of the old track and Macclesfield Old Road.
Above: Click to enlarge the notice.
Things finally seem to be happening with the application to make a section of the old Cromford & High Peak Railway track a public right of way (PRoW). It’s some two and a half years since it was submitted to Derbyshire County Council. And a notice has only just appeared beside the track asking for public comments.
There’s lots of information on this website explaining why the application was made (click to view). It started back in April 2020 when someone living beside the route asked me to change the directions for walk 12. This follows (as far as possible) the disused railway line from where it once passed under Macclesfield Old Road on the outskirts of Buxton through the Goyt Valley all the way to Whaley Bridge.
A number of people also got in touch at the same time saying they’d been forced back from the route – sometimes quite aggressively. I made enquiries and found that although people have been walking it for many years, it’s not a designated right of way. But it can be made one if we can prove it’s been used unopposed for more than 20 years.
Above: Cow slurry was sprayed across the entrance back in May 2020 to deter walkers.
The previous owner of the land doesn’t seem to have had any problem with people walking the track. But the present owner made it very clear that he will fight the application all the way – as is his right. So we need to gather as much support as possible to ensure people can once again walk a route they’ve been using for as long as anyone can remember.
It’s a fairly long and complicated process but the Peak & Northern Footpath Society offered to help. So we set about gathering evidence and presented a bulging folder – including signed evidence forms from 50 people who have used it for more than 20 years – in August 2020.
The recent notice asks anyone who wants to comment on the application to email Hannah Roberts from Derbyshire County Council at Hannah.Roberts@derbyshire.gov.uk before 23rd March 2023. The reference to quote is ‘AG/HR/100116’. Hannah explained:
The most useful comments to receive would be from people who can attest to the existence of the claimed right of way. Other matters such as safety or suitability cannot be legally considered as they do not demonstrate whether a right of way exists.
So the most important comments would be from anyone who has walked the route from before 2000 – 20 years before we made the application. And to confirm that no one stopped you from walking it, either verbally or by putting up notices.
Click the button below to send your comment to Hannah at Derbyshire County Council.
If anyone has any questions about the application, please leave a comment below or get in touch using the contact page.
Page update: June 6th 2023
Many thanks to those who were able to come out at short notice to pose for a photo at the gates of the railway track. It was for an article which should appear on the next issue of ‘Pure Peak’.
Page update: September 22nd 2023
I’ve just received the good news that Derbyshire County Council approved our application on August 24th. Click here to read their decision notice. The next stage is for DCC to announce what they call a ‘Modification Order’ to the Definitive Map and Statement which lists all the public rights of way in the county*.
This will give the landowners a six week period of notice to object to the Order. There are three landowners along the route so I’m sure at least one of them will do this. I asked Hannah from DCC to explain what happens next:
If we receive an objection, Derbyshire County Council cannot confirm the Order and it must then be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate who will decide on the procedure necessary to determine the Order. This could be through written representations, or by holding a Hearing or Public Inquiry.
Orders only come into force once confirmed, and it is only then that an Order route becomes a right of way.
Rhoda from the Peak & Northern Footpath Society, who presented the application on our behalf, also told me:
The Planning Inspectorate will deal with this – almost certainly a public inquiry at which users will be cross-examined by an expensive barrister paid for by the landowners. So it will be essential that the most confident and least timid of them appear at the inquiry and can stand up to the barrister.
They will be questioned about their record of their use of the route, but if they stick to their evidence, all will be fine.
*I’ve asked Hannah about the likely timescale for the date of the Modification Order, and for how long it typically takes before a Public Enquiry is held and a decision announced, and will update this page when I get a response.