Agenda and minutes
Meetings of the Authority and its Committees usually take place at our main offices at Aldern House, Baslow Road, Bakewell, however when necessary meetings may take place at venues other than Aldern House. Details of the venues will be given on the agendas for the meetings when they are published. Our meetings are open to the public but please note that sometimes space is limited and priority given to those participating in the meeting. The meetings will be broadcast live via YouTube and available to view after the meeting via our website. Meetings which were held between May 2020 and April 2021 were broadcast via YouTube and recordings of these can still be viewed using the following link:
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Venue: Aldern House, Baslow Road, Bakewell. View directions
Welcome & Apologies
Apologies from Joe Dalton, Alastair Harvey, Cllr Susan Hobson, Jez Kenyon, Austin Knott, Charlotte Leech and Gill Millward. Cllr Ian Huddlestone returns as a Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) member representative on the Local Access Forum.
The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as a correct record subject to the following amendment on Item Number 8, last paragraph, which should have read ‘Hopton footpath’ rather than ‘Middleton footpath’.
Matters Arising from last meeting not covered by the agenda.
(a) Louise Hawson asked whether there was any update on the appointment of a Sustainable Travel Officer, a post which was an outcome of the Transport Symposium convened by the PDNPA earlier this year. Andy Farmer, PDNPA Ranger Team Manager, advised that someone had been appointed to the role and was due to start the following week. Louise suggested that the new person be invited to one of the next LAF meetings.
(b) Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) and Access to Water. Ben Seal, who needs to leave the meeting at 11:45am, will update Forum members later in the meeting.
(c) National Park Management Plan (NPMP) - Louise advised that herself and Charlotte Gilbert were hoping to meet with the PDNPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Phil Mulligan in the New Year.
(d) Louise advised on the imminent installation of new Pay and Display machines in National Park Authority run car parks, including at Stanage and Upper Burbage. These were being introduced to some car parks that were previously free to use. An increase to parking charges would be brought in after this. People parking outside car parks at Stanage would be monitored in respect of parking on roadside verges where damage could be caused.
(e) The way LAF meetings are supported had not been progressed in regard to better use of information technology with shared platforms and so on. This is something the Forum will need to come back to. Geoff Nickolds and Charlotte Gilbert felt that using email to agree the LAF’s response to the Traffic Regulation Order consultation at Moscar Cross seemed to work well. Members will continue to monitor ways to keep in touch as a group
(f) Points were raised at the last meeting on 14 June 2023 by a member of the public, who spoke to the Forum about Green Lanes. This topic would be discussed later in the meeting, along with an update on Access for All and Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan/ Maintenance Programme.
(g) Richard Pett, PDNPA Access and Rights of Way Engagement Ranger Team Leader, advised that there had been an update from Staffordshire County Council in relation to Swan and Limer Rakes, to say that they are still working on these sites.
Jack Cornish, Head of Paths with The Ramblers, gave a presentation on the organisation’s research on the public rights of way network. Jack outlined the need for the research, which would support work to ensure the network is open for everyone, and to set out the value of public rights of way to enable targeting of work. 11% of footpaths in England and Wales are in National Parks. As an area, Derbyshire is doing fairly well on looking after Rights of Way, including the important work of identifying “lost” paths. It is often overlooked that this network is a critical national infrastructure. There is a lot of information looking at people being within 10 minutes of a ROW. Something that has emerged from the research is around the data on house building and access to nature. From the mid 20th century, this access has declined where new houses have been built and the decline has been greater in rural areas.
Clare Griffin commented on the level of detail and data provided by the research that The Ramblers report provided. There is a lack of financial resilience at local authority level and it was good that The Ramblers are looking into this and identifying groups that are affected. Strava - an App for tracking physical, mainly outdoors, exercise could be used in many ways. It allows for lots of analysis and Clare queried if the PDNPA could work in partnership with Strava, and also if the data will be used to advise and direct people. Jack responded that working in partnership is important and for example in the Peak District area, the Strava data can be looked at to see where people are starting and ending their trips, and from that look at which are the most popular places for people that don’t live in the area. Sue Smith advised that National Parks were working with Strava and looking at opportunities to share data. This includes using heat maps to identify how people are accessing areas.
Charlotte Gilbert commented that the presentation outlined a fantastic piece of work which could influence a lot of people. There was detail about lost ways from the horse rider’s perspective and how work could be done with associated groups. There were issues raised around lack of access to green spaces in new build sites. Buxton for example had no provision for non-motorised access to the town. Sustainable travel should be part of the consideration for every planning application. In the Dolomites footpaths are numbered on maps to make it easier for users to follow routes. Jack responded with the fact that You Gov polling has shown that people struggle to know where footpaths are and where they go – this information is tricky. Are Google Maps useful to guide people round the network, considering that these sorts of solutions can have technical problems? Young people just tend to follow their phones. Charlotte pointed out that Google Maps don’t advise on the status of ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Martin Bennett, member of the Peak District LAF and Footpath Secretary & Access Officer for the Derbyshire Dales Group of The Ramblers, gave a presentation on the role of a Footpath Secretary. Martin stated that the footpath network is a unique national asset that brings many benefits to the population. The Ramblers are a statutory consultee on planning applications. Martin and the Parish Path Wardens cover 73 of the 110 parishes in the Derbyshire Dales area, with the aim of each path being walked at least once a year. The wardens report back on any problems, including signposting, obstructions, bridges, stiles and gates. These are then referred to the relevant authority. Other issues that are looked at are barbed wire adjacent to stiles and gates, and also road safety where the route of a path means crossing a road at points where there is poor visibility of oncoming traffic, especially on the busier, faster roads, where there may be high volumes of heavy goods vehicles.
Paul Richardson thanked Martin for a great presentation. Paul asked how the public can contact the Parish Path Wardens, who walk the footpaths in their parish to flag up problems with way marking, obstructions and maintenance on stiles and so on. Martin advised that people should contact The Ramblers who would pass the details onto the relevant authority. Alternatively, people can report things to the relevant Highway Authority directly. Reporting issues directly to the Highway Authority is not always straightforward. The reporting process for Derbyshire is via an online system, which can sometimes include up to 20 steps and is enough to put people off. Fix my Street is a much easier system. With the DCC Highways reporting system, the acknowledgement you receive just provides a reference number, without the body of the text of your email detailing the problem, so if you are reporting multiple issues, it is problematic keeping track of things. Paul queried why there couldn’t be a national central reporting system. Louise suggested that the difficulties with the reporting process could be raised with DCC Highways at a future discussion.
Andy Farmer, Ranger Team Manager, outlined the Landscape and Engagement Team structure and work priorities. The teams within this structure are Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL), Ranger, Land & Nature and Engagement. The Access and Rights of Way work sits within the Ranger Team. Mike Rhodes, Richard Pett and Jess Coatesworth are team leaders in the Ranger team and manage the Area Rangers. Sue Smith is Access & Rights of Way Officer and works on the Authority’s statutory responsibilities in regard to Access Land and the making of Public Path Orders, as well as accessibility projects such as Miles without Stiles.
Sue Fletcher, the recently appointed Head of Landscape & Engagement introduced herself to the LAF members. Sue has been with PDNPA for some time and has had several roles within the organisation, starting with the Property Team. Sue’s role with the bringing together of the Landscape and Engagement Team was to take things forward strategically in challenging times. She was attending today’s meeting to listen and learn and understand the priorities with Access and Rights of Way work and what the statutory role of the team is.
Andy Farmer then went through the Ranger Team priorities and the wide remit of its work, plus the involvement of volunteers and the line management. There are priorities within the Access and ROW work. Andy advised the group that there was a planned lunchtime demo of the Access App, which the Rangers use to log, monitor and evaluate work around Access points within the National Park. Recreation Hubs have been set up to create an area management approach to priority areas of the National Park. The authority no longer deals with general Rights of Way enquiries, so resources can then be focussed on priority routes, such as trails and CRoW Act work. There is work to highlight accessible routes and the Walk Around booklets, as well as on going Green Lane work. This work is incorporated into the management of the Recreation Hubs. This is a challenge as each area is different and it won’t be possible to carry out all the work set out in the list of priorities. Green Lanes form part of the work mentioned around priority routes, as set out in the Green Lane Strategy. Work on sites such as Limer and Swan Rakes has to be done in partnership as the PDNPA doesn’t have the resources to do this work alone.
Charlotte thanked Sue and Andy for clarifying the new structure and can see a role for the LAF representing major user groups in how work is prioritised. It was good to have the emphasis on putting responsibility back on the relevant authorities for issues which have previously been shouldered by the National Park Authority. Louise hopes the LAF can play a part in that new structure. Andy Farmer responded by saying that he wanted to get across the reality of the Authority’s current position. Work needs to be value added. LAF voices should be heard and LAF ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Gill Millward from Derbyshire County Council wasn’t present to give this update, so Mike Rhodes went through the report with LAF members.
Work is underway to replace missing roadside signposting, which will help people know where Rights of Way are and make the network easier to navigate. Things are better in Derbyshire in this regard than they were previously. A list of completed, contracted and upcoming works in 2024/25 to improve the surface condition and drainage on Rights of Way are included in the report. The works to improve the bridleway on Jacob’s Ladder at Edale are still awaiting a start date.
Geoff Nickolds welcomes the investment and work that is going on, but feels that the completion of the White Peak Loop is moving very slowly, especially relating to the link into Buxton.
Charlotte felt this was an excellent report which ensured that Rights of Way are there for people to use. In relation to the Definitive Map and Statement, she highlighted Project 2026, which aims to define historic, unrecorded routes or “Lost Ways”. 381 paths are logged on the database for research records and people can add to that list. 206 Definitive Map Modification Order claims have now been submitted to the County Council and Charlotte wondered how many of those routes would be added in our lifetime. Work should continue to update the list as this will allow for connections and expansions to the rights of way network. Charlotte wants to check if these will be actioned, as she understands there is a lack of resources. Work is continuing on the Pennine Bridleway National Trail and resurfacing has been completed at Shallcross Incline, Whaley Bridge. Flexipave has been used, which although expensive is a very good, porous material. It will be interesting to see how this stands up over the years and if it proves to be cost effective. It may be a solution to other difficult situations.
Martin Bennett said that the cycling network provision by DCC is not great. The A6 in Matlock is a problem and more money is needed.
Jack Cornish advised on the extent of the backlog for Definitive Map Modification Order applications across England and Wales. There was a backlog of 4,000 applications in 2018, which now stands at 10,000. The local authority with the biggest backlog will take 130 years to process its outstanding applications. The Ramblers and other access organisations are pressing for greater investment. Louise added that it was a very slow process.
Gill's report also updated the LAF on progress with planned routemaintenance, focusing on the list of priority routes. Routes 2 and 5 at Hope, and the route at Rushup Edge are to be funded. Louise said that it would be useful to carry out a site visit, and include other user groups in talks about the work. Clare said this is what happened at Chapelgate ten years ago.
Louise further added that they could carry out site visits, or have a group discussion ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Sue Smith provided Forum members with an update on issues related to access in the Peak District.
Access Land Mapping – Consideration is being given to extending the current 2024/25 deadline for Natural England’s Access Land mapping review to 31 December 2030. National Park Rangers and volunteers are using the new App which has been developed by the Authority to monitor and record access points onto Access Land which should improve access and links to these areas. Access at popular locations can cause problems, but landowners are generally receptive to solutions. The mapping can record different types of infrastructure and includes pictures which help to confirm the locations of access points and the signage.
Changing Place – If the planning application which has been submitted is approved, a Changing Place and Tramper storage will be built at Millers Dale Station, which is one of the accessibility hubs within the National Park. This will make a big difference to people planning a visit, enabling them to stay in the area for longer. The funding has come from a variety of organisations.
Access Fund – The Peak District Foundation, which this year has moved across to be a more sustainable, self-financing model, helps support the Access Fund. There are various conservation and access initiatives, with a number of Miles without Stiles projects scheduled for 2024.
Access Improvements – A media update shows that the Miles without Stiles page takes over 10% of the web traffic on the National Park Authority’s website. Accessible Castleton is being rolled out this month. The Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme has delivered new permissive paths and education projects. Access Fund projects include works by the Countryside Maintenance and Projects Team (CMPT) at Fernilee in the Goyt Valley; works by PPCV volunteers to the barrier on Long Causeway at Stanage; and at Crowdecote, ladder stiles have been replaced with kissing gates. Following the recent storms, work is being carried out on Miles without Stiles routes at Surprise View and Coombsdale. £5.95 from each Miles without Stiles booklet contributes to the Access Fund.
Geoff Nickolds asked Sue for a ballpark figure on the cost of the works in the Goyt Valley. Sue’s response was about £9,000.
Martin Bennett said that the FiPL programme has funded some work at Great Longstone, where livestock feeders and troughs are located next to stiles. There should be discussions with landowners as it is best not to have these next to stiles and access points. Sue Smith said it was good practice, as backed up by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and National Farmers’ Union, not to have feeders at access points or on Rights of Way. As with other issues on the RoW network, this would be something to raise with the relevant Highway Authority.
Charlotte wondered if the work on concessionary RoW will continue after the FiPL funding has stopped. Sue responded that the funding is for a set period and introduced landowners to ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Green Lanes update
No report submitted
Any Other Business
An item for the next LAF meeting is proposed where the view of landowners on the Right to Roam can be discussed.
Date and venue of next meeting - Wednesday 21st February 2024
The next Local Access Forum meeting to be held at 10 am in the Board Room at Aldern House, Bakewell on Wednesday 21st February 2024.