Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Kenn Centre, Exeter Road, Kennford, Exeter EX6 7UE

Contact: Hilary Winter, Forum Officer, 07837171000, 01392 382771  Email:

No. Item




Apologies were received from Simon Clist, Chris Cole, Sean Comber, John Daw, Gordon Guest and Sophie Pritchard.


Declaration of interests


No interests were declared.


Minutes of the meeting held on 9 October 2018 pdf icon PDF 179 KB


Minutes of the previous meeting, held on 9 October, were agreed and signed.


Matters arising


Exe Estuary Partnership Dog Walking Code (4.1 09.10.18)


An email had been received from the Exe Estuary Officer thanking the DCAF for its feedback and guidance on the Dog Walking Code.  The Officer had taken on board the DCAF’s useful suggestions for further distribution of the code.


It was confirmed there were no current links between the Exe Estuary Management Partnership and the Forestry Commission and any contact names would be appreciated.


The Exe Estuary Officer said that signing to dog available areas is being looked into by the Devon Loves Dogs project and she will ensure the importance of this is highlighted. It was not included in detail in the signage review.


The signage review had been completed and will guide signage updating by a variety of organisations. It was not possible to achieve common themed signage due to the range of organisations involved, although the DCAF suggestion was appreciated.





Coastal access progress reports (16. 09.10.18)


An email from the Lead Adviser (Coastal Access – Devon, Cornwall and Exmoor), Natural England, was brought to the meeting.


The Cremyll to Kingswear report will be published this summer (and not in the spring as previously noted).


Natural England had not received any specific concerns to date about roll-back provisions, although there are issues being raised by landowners relating to both the route itself and the coastal margin.  In terms of the estuaries, Natural England had identified an Alternative Route for the Yealm Estuary, mostly using existing public rights of way and highways, and discussions are ongoing as to how the ferry service on the Avon Estuary could be improved.




Public questions


Highway Code

Mrs Chris Ingram, South West Riders, has requested that the DCAF write to the Department of Transport to ask for horse-riders, as vulnerable road users, to be included in the forthcoming review of the Highway Code.


Members agreed to write to the Department of Transport to support the inclusion of horse riders as vulnerable users in the forthcoming review of the Highway Code.  It was suggested and agreed that carriage drivers should be included.


Action:  Forum Officer to circulate draft to members.


Correspondence log pdf icon PDF 95 KB


Attention was drawn to item 8 on the Correspondence Log. The Marine Management Organisation had arranged workshops to facilitate responses to iteration 3 of the south west marine planning area.  Much of the plan was peripheral to the DCAF’s remit but access elements were included in the ‘Social’ theme of the plan. Sue Pudduck expressed interest in attending and would feedback to members to allow a response by close of the engagement period on 29 March 2019.


Action:  Forum Officer to forward workshop details to Sue Pudduck.


Reports from meetings attended by DCAF members


Regional Local Access Forum 2026 Training Day

Report from training day led by Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey, authors of ‘Rights of Way. Restoring the Record’.


Chris Cole, Councillor Tony Inch, Sue Pudduck and Hilary Winter had attended the event led by Phil Wadey and Sarah Bucks.


Sue Pudduck reported that it had been a very interesting day.  Workshop leaders recommended research to ensure paths were recorded on the Definitive Map.  Examples of case studies, use of different historical documents and the value of evidence sharing were included.


Helen Clayton, Senior Officer, Public Rights of Way explained that there was a duty for surveying authorities to keep the map under continuous review.  Most authorities relied on applications being made.  Devon County Council is more proactive and carries out the review on a parish by parish basis looking for anomalies and investigating claims, and deals with applications as part of that process.    There was now more awareness and DCC is starting to receive enquiries on claims not picked up under the review.


The National Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 restricted rights for motor vehicles.  Applications were put in for Byways Open to All Traffic by the Trail Riders Fellowship prior to the Act but the retrospective cut-off was 2005.  Any claim would now be a restricted byway, unless it met one of several exceptions.  The cut-off date of 2026 for historical claims does not affect restricted byways.


Helen Clayton stated that DCC had a target of January 2020 to finish its parish by parish review.  Applications would still be picked up after that date.  Parish progress was itemised on the public rights of way website.


The 2026 cut-off date is likely to include a host of saving provisions, to be set out in regulations with the implementation of the Deregulation Act 2015.  Different types of evidence carry different weight.  In answer to a question, it was confirmed use of the term FP on an historic map did not necessarily indicate a public right of way; historic Ordnance Survey maps show physical features on the ground, but not whether they were considered public or private.




Parish Paths Partnership annual volunteer events


Andrew Baker, Sue Pudduck and Sarah Slade had attended P3 ‘walk and talk’ events in Shobrooke, Hope Cove and Croyde respectively.  Feedback was very positive and members had viewed a number of interesting issues such as installation of dog friendly gates and dealing with surface maintenance.  It was an opportunity for cross-parish discussions and the chance to meet dog walkers, landowners, councillors and parishioners.  It was agreed the new format worked well.


Minutes of the Public Rights of Way Committee meeting held on 15 November 2018 pdf icon PDF 72 KB


Minutes of the Public Rights of Way Committee were noted.  Minutes of the DCAF meetings were on the agenda for the ProW Committee, held three times a year, and generated interest amongst councillors.  The ProW Committee agenda mainly focussed on its legal role.


Public Rights of Way update


Ros Mills, Public Rights of Way Manager, reported on the following items:


1)    Work for the financial year is being completed.  Wardens are delivering maintenance work on the public rights of way network and cycle/multi-use trails.

2)    Linear cracks on the Exe Estuary Trail are being investigated by the DCC Materials Laboratory.  There was a rolling programme of surface improvements on the off-road cycle/multi-use network.

3)    There will be a cut in the revenue budget for 2019/20 but an increase in capital, mainly due to additional Government money for drainage and surfacing to highways, of which public rights of way are part.  Devon’s tourism economy is significant and the wardens work with landowners to manage the network and ensure it is accessible for visitors and locals alike.

4)    The Enforcement Protocol, on which the DCAF had an input, will be going to the Public Rights of Way Committee in July.


A discussion took place on a new walking/cycling bridge built near Barnstaple through the development planning process that currently had no exits to footways or public rights of way. DCC is looking into securing a permissive route to a nearby footpath.  There was a fatality on the A road nearby when someone crossed from a minor road to a public right of way.  Once development takes place the bridge will connect.


It was noted that many public rights of way end at A roads which were not so busy in the past. It is difficult to do improvements retrospectively. DCC has, however,a widening scheme for the North Devon Link Road and the Public Rights of Way team had persuaded the Council to include a bridge to link existing public rights of way and this would be going for planning permission. 


This raised the importance of discussions at an early stage in the process and ensuring different levels of local government and DCC liaise to investigate opportunities.  It was noted this would tie in with the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.


It was agreed to look at the DCAF planning position statement in the first instance to see whether it could be adapted to include road proposals.


Action:  Chair and Forum Officer to review planning statement. 


Helen Clayton, Senior Officer, Public Rights of Way reported on the following:


a)    The next PRoW Committee would be on 4March and five parish reviews were on the agenda.

b)    A Public Inquiry held at Ugborough in October confirmed a Definitive Map Modification Order to add a bridleway based on user evidence.  This is through a recreation ground (Filham Park) owned by Ivybridge Town Council. A diversion had to be resolved as the defined route is through a cricket ground and a pond, constructed after the route had been established.

c)     P3 surveys were being undertaken.

d)    Public Rights of Way digital information is now on the digitised List of Streets with a disclaimer that the information is not the Definitive Map.  This can be viewed in County Hall or by contacting Land  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Presentation by Richard Walton, South West Coast Path National Trail Officer


Richard Walton, National Trail Officer for the South West Coast Path, was welcomed to the meeting.  The role is now hosted by the South West Coast Path Association.


Mr Walton outlined some key facts about the SWCP.


1.     The SWCP is one of 16 National Trails in England and Wales, designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and had its origin in old coastguard paths.

2.     It connects 1 National Park, 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I Biosphere, 2 World Heritage Sites, 1 Global Geopark and 10 National Nature Reserves, as well as other designated conservation sites.

3.     220 miles of the SWCP are in Devon, out of 630 miles.

4.     The highest point is Great Hangman in North Devon at 1043 feet.

5.     Approximately 9 million visits are made to the SWCP, excluding daily residents’ use.

6.     Path users expend more than £500m

7.     In excess of 11,000 full-time jobs are sustained by income from walkers.


In budget terms, the SWCP requires an annual budget of £721,000 of which Natural England provides £464,000 and local authorities, the National Trust and the South West Coast Path Association provide the remainder.  Day-to-day management and maintenance, carried out by local authorities and the National Trust, costs approximately £624,000. The National Trust own 1/3 of the SWCP area.  It costs about £1000/mile to look after the SWCP. 5-10% of the path furniture needs to be replaced annually.


The Delivery Group which meets biannually includes the main financial stakeholders and the National Trust.  Mr Walton said he is trying to achieve more engagement with a wider group of stakeholders, including the Devon Countryside Access Forum, through informal, regular contact, regular liaison, one to one meetings and newsletters.  There are several Area Liaison Groups made up of volunteers, managers and rangers and these are very effective in determining work priorities and seeking additional investment.


The South West Coast Path Association has a role in campaigning and fundraising.  The path has seen a 40-50% cut in budget over the last 10 years and local funding has addressed some of this impact. 


Data from 2014/15 demonstrated the most important factors when deciding where to walk were: attractive views and scenery (98%), clear signposting (88%), away from roads (86%), information panels along the route (82%), destinations and distance on signs (81%), not overgrown (81%) and stiles, gates, steps easy to use (79%).  The SWCPA hopes to get up-to-date data.


The SWCPA aimed to achieve good accessibility where possible and provide useful website information on gradients and surfacing.  For example, work had been done with the National Trust at Bolberry Down.  Walks were branded to include day walks, circular walks and grades of difficulty.  Work is undertaken with Countryside Mobility to promote and extend opportunities for trampers which can deal with gradients of 1 in 4.


Current projects include Explore South Devon, a £41,721 project including a LEADER grant of £33,376.80.  This aims to promote 19 circular walks and provide better on-site information  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


DCAF Greenspace position statement

To discuss draft position statement.


Members considered a draft greenspace position statement, intended to supplement the existing planning position statement.


It was noted that districts had already adopted or were about to adopt Local Plans and it was difficult for local authorities to impose conditions on developers that were not embedded in the Plan, although it might be possible to include elements in Supplementary Planning Documents. It was agreed the statement could be circulated to local authorities and to officers with greenspace responsibilities.


It was not known whether Dartmoor Access Forum was preparing a similar statement but the DCAF work could be shared.


A discussion took place on the defined greenspaces and whether the specific provision for children and teenagers should be included in the list of more general types of greenspace.  It was noted that these were Government definitions and it was agreed the needs of that group should be retained. 


It was agreed to put in full weblinks rather than hyperlinks and amend a sentence stating ‘unused to accessing greenspace’ to ‘unfamiliar with accessing greenspace.’


It was agreed to adopt the position statement, subject to minor amendments, and publish and circulate.


Action:  Forum Officer to finalise position statement.



To note and approve responses to consultations and any feedback


Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review: proposals for new cycling offences pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To note and approve response.


The response was noted and approved.  The Government had recently published its comments.


Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Position Statement pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To note and approve DCAF response to the five Devon AONBs Management Plan reviews.


The response was noted and approved.


Emerging Exeter Vision for 2040 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To note and approve response (text submitted to online survey)


The response was noted and approved.


Protected Landscapes Review pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To note and approve response.


The response was noted and approved.


Current consultations


Hemyock Common pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Review of statutory direction under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  Natural England.

Additional documents:


Natural England had a responsibility to review long term directions on access land and the one for Hemyock Common had come up for review.  The DCAF had supported the original direction in 2013.  The purpose of the consultation was to consider whether there was a need for the direction to continue, originally put in place to allow the Gun Club to continue uninterrupted clay pigeon shooting on specified and approved days each year.  The Gun Club was an established user of the land.


A discussion took place and several different views were expressed.  A five-year restriction was considered to be a long exclusion and it was questioned whether one group of people should have a right in principle to exclude others from exercising their right to use access land.  In practice, if the Gun Club manage the land others may get the benefit of any improvements to access.


It was noted that the District Council is reviewing noise levels as part of concerns raised by near neighbours.  It was agreed this would be determined under different legislation and should not influence the DCAF response.


The consultation included two different timings for restrictions on a limited number of days each year.  This still provided opportunity for access users to use the Common at other times.  It was agreed clarification would be helpful on the different timings.


The Gun Club had an agreement with the Parish Council, as landowners, but the terms of that agreement were not known.  It was thought that the Parish Council should be aware of and respond to local views.


Sharing access land for different purposes was acknowledged, for example army use on Dartmoor, and the balance to be struck between different users.


It was recommended that access users should be signposted to other space that could be available locally when access on Hemyock Common is restricted.


It was noted that the Gun Club manage the land on behalf of the Parish Council and assist in improving access.


After debate and a vote, it was agreed that a continuation of the direction should be supported.


Action:  Forum Officer to circulate draft to members.






Fire Beacon Hill management options consultation pdf icon PDF 3 MB

RSPB consultation on the future management of Fire Beacon Hill, a Local Nature Reserve.  The site is access land.


Chris Cole and the Forum Officer had attended a consultation event at Fire Beacon Hill.  Comments from Chris Cole were shared.  These mentioned that the car park area would benefit from being enlarged; any new gates and replacement of existing ones should, if practical, be suitable for all users including people with restricted mobility; and that limited fencing/grazing areas should not conflict too much with public access.


It was agreed there was scope to improve access generally and that the DCAF position statement on disability access should be submitted with the response.


Although the car park at the southern end was small, members decided not to recommend it should be enlarged due to the nature conservation aspirations for the site.


It was agreed that the RSPB should be encouraged to work with the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission to manage the whole area and, where possible, improve access.  Partnership working should be encouraged. Temporary electric fencing was not seen to deter access if on a rotation basis.  Any permanent fencing would require an application to the Planning Inspectorate. 


It was agreed that precise vegetation management prescriptions were outside the remit of the Forum but it would be helpful if any management changes were communicated to the public.


Action:  Forum Officer to circulate draft.




Dates of meetings 2018/2019


Dates of forthcoming meetings were agreed:


Thursday, 25 April 2019 10.00 a.m.

Thursday, 19 September 2019 10.00 a.m.

Thursday, 23 January 2020 10.00 a.m.


A number of venues were suggested and would be investigated.


Any other business


Local Nature Partnership


Maggie Watson expressed interest in attending a Devon Local Nature Partnership Conference if one was planned for 2019.


Action:  Forum Officer to contact the Devon LNP.


Devon Countryside Access Forum membership


The Forum Officer said that the recruitment process for Forum membership was currently taking place.  She expressed thanks and appreciation to Sarah Slade, Chair; Simon Clist, Gordon Guest and Linda Lee who would come to the end of their three year term at the end of March.  Retiring members could reapply for membership.