Rights of Way Improvement Plans Statement

Introduction

Every Local Highway Authority is required to produce a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) by November 2007. The Government expects that each RoWIP will be incorporated into local transport planning during the next LTP period.  A RoWIP will contain an assessment of the current Rights of Way (RoW) network and how it is likely to meet current and future needs.  It will also identify improvements, such as new links, better information and management, which will provide a better local RoW network for pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians and people with mobility difficulties.

A RoW network is defined in Section 60(5) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000. It includes footpaths, cycle tracks, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic within the authority’s area.  Within the West Midlands Metropolitan Area, our focus is on a variety of footpaths, alleys, cycle tracks, bridleways and canal towpaths and linear green spaces in both urban and rural locations.

This Statement reports on progress by the seven Metropolitan Authorities and how this relates to this LTP2.

The Policy Framework

The Authorities recognise that a good quality RoW network can increase the number of sustainable short journeys, by linking people and local facilities.  Helping and encouraging greater use of local RoW supports LTP2 objectives.

RoWIPs will seek to maximise their contribution towards LTP2 targets.  However, as the Government has recognised, it is unrealistic for the seven Authorities to integrate RoWIPs fully with the LTP2.  This is because of the tight timescale for submitting LTP2 and because each RoWIP must reflect public needs and be prioritised in the light of consultation, value-for-money and the Transport Shared Priority.

Each RoWIP will be developed in line with the Authority's Vision for its area and in line with strategies, plans and policies which aim to create healthier lifestyles and support  leisure, recreation, sport, tourism and quality of life.  In many parts of our Area, RoWIPS will also reflect needs for economic vitality, regeneration and social inclusion.

Table 1 ‘State of Preparation of Right of Way Improvement Plans at 31st December 2005’ shows the current state of preparation of RoWIPs.

Further progress on each Authority’s RoWIP will be reported in future Annual Progress Reports.

Delivery of Prioritised ROW Improvements

The Authorities continue to seek opportunities to integrate ROW improvements with LTP schemes.  However, it would be premature to identify a list of RoW proposals which would help to meet LTP objectives, as suggested in Government Guidance.  To do so might prejudice the outcome of each RoWIP.  The Authorities want to avoid taking decisions in advance of public consultation and dialogue with stakeholders.

However, the Authorities recognise the contribution that RoWs can make towards the Transport Shared Priority and Quality of Life objectives.  As each RoWIP is adopted, consideration will be given to the use of LTP2 funds to help deliver schemes identified in RoWIP Action Plans, that contribute towards LTP2 objectives and targets.

Officers are working to ensure that RoWIPs are coordinated with those of neighbouring authorities both in and beyond the Metropolitan Area and to ensure integration with the LTP2.  The LTP2 relies on each RoWIP being developed in line with Walking and Cycling Strategies and with the Transport Shared Priority and Quality of Life objectives.

 
Table 1 State of Preparation of Right of Way Improvement Plans at 31st December 2005
Key Task

Birmingham

Coventry

Dudley

Sandwell

Solihull

Walsall

Wolverhampton

Assemble information on RoW network

complete

in progress

complete

complete

complete

complete

complete

Review links with other plans and strategies

complete

in progress

complete

complete

complete

complete

Review condition, status and requests

almost complete

in progress

complete

complete

in progress

in progress

Collate information on trip generators

complete

in progress

complete

in progress

in progress

in progress

Consult public and others about needs

complete

complete

in progress

complete

Prepare Action Plan

in progress

in progress

Publish draft RoWIP for public comment

Review comments and amend RoWIP

Adopt RoWIP

A first assessment shows that the following the key issues need addressing in the RoWIPs, although not every issue is relevant to every part of an Authority’s area or even to every Authority:

  • Maintenance and resurfacing which are consistent with the local environment, bearing in mind the urban nature of much of the Metropolitan Area
  • Better lighting and improved drainage to encourage more walking to school and use for access to local facilities
  • Negotiations with landowners in order to upgrade signs and surfacing to comply with the requirements of disability legislation
  • Dealing with obstructions and clearing vegetation to make routes easier to use and providing better signs
  • Improving connections to local facilities, such as shops, workplaces, schools and public transport facilities
  • Encouraging greater use of RoWs in support of LTP2 objectives and targets

These issues and proposals for improvement will be refined during the development of RoWIPs and following consultation with the public and interested parties, including adjoining authorities and Local Access Forums.  The Authorities will have regard to practicality, value-for-money and affordability.  Proposals will contribute towards the Transport Shared Priority objectives and wider Quality of Life objectives, by:

  • improving the networks so people will more easily be able to walk or cycle between homes and facilities, such as local shops, schools, workplaces and recreational facilities, thereby increasing accessibility.  Their implementation will be, as far as possible, designed to meet the needs of people with mobility difficulties so that RoW can be used by almost everyone
  • enabling people to walk or cycle instead of going by car, especially in association with School Travel Plans and Company TravelWise, to achieve reduced congestion.  Networks will include access to  bus, Metro and railway stops and stations so that people can use public transport, instead of  cars.
  • giving people an alternative to the car and integrating with safety schemes, especially where RoWs cross roads, to help achieve road safety targets
  • giving people an alternative to the car, especially for short journeys that are the most polluting,  will contribute towards improved air quality
  • encouraging people to walk or cycle will improve personal health, increase social interaction and reduce fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, all contributing to a better quality of life

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