We have set out our vision for the public path network and access to the countryside for the next ten years.
Following the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 all local highway authorities were required to publish a rights of way improvement plan covering all of their area.
Improvement plans are intended to be the prime means by which local highway authorities will identify the changes to be made, in respect of the managements and improvements to their local rights of way network in order to meet the government’s aim for better provision for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility difficulties.
Particular emphasis is put on increasing access to the countryside for all users and abilities, routes from towns with links to public amenities and facilities, and links, which create circular tours for leisure and health.
Assessment for the plan
In drawing up this plan, we were required to assess:
- The extent to which the local rights of way meet the present and likely needs of the public.
- The opportunities provided by local rights of way (in particular footpaths, cycle tracks, bridleways, and restricted byways) for exercise and other forms of open air recreation and the enjoyment of the area.
- The accessibility of local rights of way to blind or partially sighted persons and others with mobility problems.
- Such other matters relating to local rights of way as the secretary of state may direct.
Rights of Way Improvement Plans (ROWIP) should also include a ‘Statement of Action’ the authority propose to take for the management of local rights of way and for securing an improved network of local rights of way.
Local authorities may also be in the process of developing or have in place other plans and strategies for related areas of work. Related areas include healthy living, leisure, recreation, sport, tourism, transport, and community strategies.
The ROWIP has been produced after two major consultations. The first resulted in the publication of a detailed Assessment Report of the public rights of way network, countryside recreational facilities and the current management of these.
The Assessment Report was then used to draw up the draft ROWIP which was the subject of the second major consultation exercise.
After taking on board comments and proposals from the consultation, the final version of the ROWIP was approved in March 2008 by the Executive Board Member for Regeneration and Leisure and published in late 2008.
The final plan contains 21 key policies and 52 action statements which are categorised on a High to low priority basis for implementation.