Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Wiltshier Room, Broadclyst Victory Hall, Broadclyst, Exeter EX5 3DX

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

No. Item




The Chair paid tribute to John Daw, an upstanding and respected member of the community and member of the Devon Countryside Access Forum. A minute’s silence was held. 


Apologies were received from Chris Cole, Cllr Tony Inch and Cllr Philip Sanders.


Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 283 KB


Minutes of the meeting held on 19 September were approved and signed.


Matters arising


Fly-tipping conference, Chartered Institute of Waste Management


Sean Comber reported that the conference had been postponed.


Stover Country Park. Letter sent in support of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid. pdf icon PDF 115 KB


The letter sent in support of the bid was noted.  The outcome would be known in March.


Public questions


No public questions had been received.  An email about coastal access from a member of the public would be considered during the Forum’s deliberations on this matter.


Correspondence log pdf icon PDF 103 KB


The log was noted.  The Chair drew attention to the importance of the Forum’s position statements in responding to consultations without undue burden on members.


Meetings attended by DCAF members


Exe Estuary Partnership, DCC and Devon Countryside Access Forum working group


It had not been possible to arrange a further meeting of the working group during the autumn and it was hoped to hold the next meeting in March 2020.


Jo Hooper had emailed Exeter City Council and had received confirmation that the toilet close to the Turf Locks was only available to the boating community.  Conversations with pubs might be helpful in securing disabled access.  It was agreed to put this matter on the agenda for the working group as the Exe Estuary Partnership might be able to assist in promoting the message about disabled facilities.


Action:  Ros Mills, DCC.


It was agreed that the trail statement, once agreed, would give more weight to any discussions with the service sector.  The Devon Countryside Access Forum’s remit was to give advice to specified organisations.


Active Devon Conference pdf icon PDF 101 KB


Tim Felton and Sue Pudduck had attended the Active Devon conference and were thanked for their report.  They reported that it had been very well-organised and motivational.  The new initiatives were exciting and were about getting people out and confident to use the outdoors and not just about elite sport.  It was suggested that Active Devon could give a presentation at a future meeting. Tino Savvas said he was involved in a Connecting Actively to Nature (CAN) project in Torquay which had a turnout of thirty-nine in poor weather for the first event. It was noted Forestry England and running and cycling organisations were recognising the benefits to health of organised events.


Marsh Barton railway station

To discuss outcome from working group discussions related to the proposed Marsh Barton railway station and to consider pre-planning advice to submit to Devon County Council.


Tim Felton, Gordon Guest, Jo Hooper and Maggie Watson had been on a site visit to look at initial plans for the proposed Marsh Barton Railway Station.  The scheme included a new bridge over the railway line, adjacent to the existing bridge, for walkers and cyclists. This now featured slightly steeper but shorter ramps than previously recommended by Network Rail.  The proposed gradients are within recommended accessibility standards for Devon County Council footbridges and would offer a more favourable gradient than the existing hump back bridge, used by motorised traffic, along Clapperbrook Lane. A formal planning application would be made by Devon County Council later in the year.


The working group agreed that the principle is good and would in itself offer improvements to recreational and functional access.  Officers accompanying the working group had explained the different responsibilities of train operators and Network Rail.


It was agreed the proposed bridge gradient was acceptable provided there are sufficient resting platforms of an appropriate length and suitable non-slip surfacing on the ramps.


There was concern about the existing and potentially much higher use of the car park at the end of Clapperbrook Lane due to the narrow road and numbers of recreational access users, commuters and rail station users.  The proposals included disabled parking only.


The plans for the station and provision of information points and shelters were good, provided the latter were available for disabled users.


It was agreed space for cycles on trains was a problem, together with accessibility of some stations further down the line for cyclists and disabled users.  These matters fall within the responsibility of the train operator.  The Exe Estuary was currently a major destination and people may come up by train to cycle down the estuary.


Devon County Council expect the station to be a ‘destination station’ which would lessen car parking problems in Marsh Barton and encourage sustainable travel. Proposed new jobs and housing, together with increased recreational use, might mean this was not the case and additional parking was recommended.


The draft response presented by the working group was agreed.  A few amendments were suggested and the response would include the following:-


1.     Pedestrian access is an important and integral part of the scheme.

2.     The crossing of the canal is difficult and dangerous in the summer and it is recommended that the scheme is extended across the canal.

3.     The scheme should be future-proofed.  Parking and other access improvements in and around the station could be secured through use of s106, raised from future developments.

4.     Members raised some concerns about chicanes.  Instances were cited of the removal of chicanes between Digby Station towards Exeter Chiefs’ ground. 


Even if some cyclists continued to use the road section, some vulnerable users would be taken off the road.


Action:  Forum Officer to circulate draft to members.




Draft recreational trail proposals

To consider draft recommendations to submit to Devon County Council to improve safety and awareness of other users on recreational trails.


A discussion took place on the draft document developed following the last meeting. Changes to the draft text and order were made for clarification and impact.  It was agreed to include electric scooters in the section about electric bikes and power assisted mobility vehicles. 


It was agreed that ‘share with care’ conveyed a stronger message than ‘share this space’ and other suitable short messages such as ‘respect other users’, ‘give space’ and ‘pass with care’ had potential to encourage safe use of trails.  It was important to intersperse messages.  It was thought subliminal positive images, such as a smiling face, might be effective.


It was agreed to mention accessibility and include the Disability Position Statement.


Action:  Forum Officer to circulate a re-worded draft.


Bryan Smith had recently cycled on the newly opened Wray Trail and said it was a wonderful asset.


Minutes of the Public Rights of Way Committee held on 12 November 2019 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To note minutes of the ProW Committee.



Minutes of the Public Rights of Way Committee held on 12 November were noted.  A policy change to the Definitive Map Review had been agreed which changed the end date of the parish reviews from 1 January 2020 to 1 January 2025.


Public Rights of Way update


Ros Mills reported that the Public Rights of Way team would be moving to Great Moor House, Sowton, due to refurbishment of Lucombe House at County Hall.


Some capital money was being spent on improvements to the surface of the Exe Estuary Trail between Bridge Road and Turf Locks. Signs, press releases and social media would be used to inform the public of the five-day closure.


A new form had been developed to enable landowners to apply for consent to change/improve the surface of public rights of way and state what work they plan to do at their own expense.  This will enable surface suitability to be checked and record future maintenance responsibilities and requirements.


An App was being developed to log the asset inventory on each public right of way and would be rolled out in the summer 2020 using ARC GIS.  Wardens would need to carry out this work as part of their regular inspection programme.  It may mean an additional year is added to the current three-year inspection programme policy.


The legal records associated with recreational trails are complex and include information on ownership, restrictions and covenants.  A conclusive map of these is being gradually put onto the GIS system and will assist management and maintenance.


Marta Gawron was introduced as the new Public Rights of Way Assistant Officer.  Part of her duties will include dealing with some chargeable public rights of way work and a business case was made for the post.  The Legal team at the County Council previously undertook aspects of this Public Path Order work. 


Helen Clayton reported that the next Public Rights of Way Committee would be on 5 March.  There were delays in the Planning Inspectorate, mainly due to the demands of coastal access inquiries.  Dates over an eleven-month period, rather than its target six months, are currently being sought by the Inspectorate to hold local PRoW Public Inquiries.


The Public Rights of Way team would be bidding into some additional highway money that had been allocated for drainage.


Presentation by Jane Beech and Richard Andrews, Coastal Access team, Natural England.

Discussion on the published coastal access reports for the stretches from Cremyll to Kingswear and Combe Martin to Marsland Mouth. To consider setting up a working group in order to respond to the proposals.


Links to the coastal access reports:




Richard Andrews and Jane Beech, Natural England, presented details from the Combe Martin to Marsland Mouth and Cremyll to Kingswear reports for the England Coast Path, currently out for consultation.  The presentations focussed on proposals for estuaries, significant realignments and exclusions/restrictions.  Much of the coast falls under designations such as Special Areas of Conservation, Marine Coastal Zones, Scheduled Monuments, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Heritage Coast, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Biosphere Reserve.


The England Coast Path will differ from the South West Coast Path in providing coastal margin land; land between the trail and the mean low margin which the public can use at their own risk.


Each stretch had now been divided into individual reports allowing work to commence on a report length if no objections had been received.  Any objections received by the Secretary of State will have to be determined before work on that report route can start.


Earlier discussions and consultations with the South West Coast Path Association, Devon County Council, the Ramblers, the Disabled Ramblers, the Devon Countryside Access Forum and others had informed the published reports.


With estuaries, Natural England had discretion to stop at the estuarine limit or at the first pedestrian crossing point.


Combe Martin to Marsland Mouth


Richard Andrew explained that, in summary, this included one estuary; one direction to exclude access; one direction to restrict access; sixteen realignments from the current South West Coast Path route and 1.4km taken off-road (3.6km if the road section of the ‘American Road’ is included).


For the Taw and Torridge estuary it was proposed to align the route to the first pedestrian crossings, the Taw Bridge (Barnstaple) and Bideford Long Bridge, using the existing SWCP/ Tarka Trail.  This would provide a continuous route around the estuary.


Realignments were proposed for:


a)    Chesil Cliff, Croyde, to take 80m of path off road.

b)    Braunton Burrows and Horsey Island, to take approximately 500m off-road at Saunton.  The trail will be aligned seaward, taking the trail off 5.3 km of the ‘inland’ American road and path.  The existing public right of way along the American road would still be available.  At Horsey Island, discussions had taken place with the Devon County Council archaeological team about stone stiles.  Some would be removed to improve access.  Where these were listed, a suitable gate would be erected alongside to British Standard 5709: Gaps, gates and stiles (2018).

c)     Scheduled monuments at Gallantry Bower and Embury Beacon.  The proposal is to align the trail to protect scheduled monuments and provide information boards to advise walkers of the site sensitivity.  A question was asked about whether public rights of way would be realigned but currently these would remain as on the Definitive Map.

d)    East-the-Water.  Aligning the trail on nearby pavements will take the trail out of the railway cutting and avoid steps and a road crossing.

e)    Dyer’s Lookout.  The current route is badly eroded and the proposal is to align the trail inland of the current  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


To note and approve responses to consultation and any feedback.


Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site Partnership Plan pdf icon PDF 102 KB


The response was noted and approved.A report should be published in February and a final plan adopted in April 2020.



Fire Beacon Hill pdf icon PDF 145 KB


The response was noted and approved.  The RSPB would be publishing a report shortly.


Pebblebed Heaths Visitor Management Plan pdf icon PDF 119 KB


The response was noted and approved. The consultation report and recommendations had been published and these were being taken to the South and East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee on 28 January.


Cranbrook Local Plan Examination pdf icon PDF 102 KB


The response was noted and approved.


Current consultations


Mid Devon Local Plan Review – Proposed Main Modifications Consultation pdf icon PDF 72 KB


It was resolved to write in support of the main modifications outlined in the agenda paper which were in line with previous Forum comments.


Action:  Forum Officer


Network Rail. Public consultation on revised plans to protect vital rail line between Teignmouth and Dawlish.

The public consultation is being launched on 20 January and will include proposals for new amenity areas alongside the line. A series of consultation events are taking place.


Bryan Smith had attended one of the consultation events. Proposals included a new trail and opportunities to link with the National Cycle Network.  It appeared the existing public right of way would remain a footpath.  Jo Hooper mentioned there were objections to the beach access plans.


Details of the remaining consultation events would be circulated.  It was agreed to hold a working group to examine the implications for access.  Jo Hooper and Bryan Smith expressed interest.


Action:  Forum Officer


Any other business


Devon Local Nature Partnership Conference - 20 March 2020.


The Devon LNP conference details would be circulated when available and consideration given to attendance, depending on the topics being covered.


Action:  Forum Officer


Devon Countryside Access Forum membership


The Forum Officer had circulated details of Forum membership to a range of bodies and organisations and was publicising it through the press and social media.  The closing date was 21 February.


The Chair thanked Chris Cole, Sean Comber, Jo Hooper and Maggie Watson for their valuable input and support over the past three years.  Maggie Watson had decided not to apply for a further term and was thanked for her inspirational and thought-provoking contribution.


Date of next meeting

The next meeting is on 23 April 2020 at 10.00 a.m.


The next meeting would be on 23 April, venue to be advised.