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Formby Parish Council release a statement regarding the public right of way on St Luke’s Church Road

Formby Parish Council release a statement regarding the public right of way on St Luke’s Church Road

Cllr Bernie Prescot said: “Here is a statement by Formby Parish Council which attempts to clarify the situation of the rights of way in the vicinity of the Ravenmeols hills in regards to the several wildly inaccurate rumours circulating our Bubble.”

Rights of Way in the vicinity of the Ravenmeols Hills

Some years ago, Formby Parish Council carried out a survey of the Rights of Way in and around Formby. Amongst other things this raised concerns over the actual status of those roads and paths in the Ravenmeols Hills area.

We were informed by Sefton Council that the roads were private and the landowner(s) were within their rights to erect signs and deny access to anyone at any time with the exception of residents of Albert and Alexandra Roads who had their own historic rights of access.

We were informed that the only way to change the status quo was to submit a formal application for a Modification of the Definitive Map. This is the document which defines all Rights of Way within a given Local Authority area. We subsequently discovered that there were two pre-existing applications submitted by the Formby Civic Society. The first, in 1991, was approved by the Area Committee in 1994 but the Definitive Map was never modified. The second in 2004 was based on the first and again, although duly authorized by the Area Committee, was never acted upon by Sefton Council and therefore the Modification Order was never made.

In 2017, having been informed by Sefton Council that the two previous applications were no longer valid, the Parish Council decided to make a formal Application for the Modification of the Definitive Map based on the roads and byways covered by the previous applications of 1991 and 2004. This formal application process entails identifying landowners and submitting written evidence by residents in support of the application. Over seventy residents collected forms from Formby Library and submitted them. Local landowners, where they could be identified, were contacted as were the residents of Albert and Alexandra Roads and invited to submit their own evidence. Some landowners could not be identified and signs were erected along those routes as part of the Application process.

Authorities are required to investigate and determine a DMMO Application within 12 months under the 1981 Act. This did not happen, so we applied to the Secretary of State for a decision notice. This was given and Sefton Council was required to determine the Application by October 2020. Due to Covid 19 restrictions this was delayed.

Early this year Sefton Council, following advice from their Learned Counsel, decided that the original application from 1991 be formally accepted and ordered that the Definitive Map be Modified in accordance with those decisions. The only part of our 2017 Application dealt with was the small cut through from Beechwood Drive to St Luke’s Church Road which was duly designated as a public footpath.

The designation of the various byways can be viewed on Sefton Council Website.

The next phase will be that the landowners be contacted and informed of the Council’s decision and invited to comment. In the event of objections, the Secretary of State will make the final decision.

It has been suggested that we have spent an inordinate amount of money on the process. On the contrary we have spent a relatively small amount on the advice of a specialist Rights of Way lawyer and the drafting of a letter to the Secretary of State to request his intervention. There is no current intention or need for further expense in this matter.

Formby Parish Council’s decision to act was in order to protect the established rights of not only the people of Formby but everyone. Unless these rights are claimed by 2025, they will disappear forever. Without them there would be no public access without the landowner’s permission.



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