July 2020: Muddy Lane is now officially approved as a bridleway, following a decision in the High Court.
Do you know the path, called Muddy Lane, that links Byfleet to Wisley at the end of Sanway Road in Byfleet? If you do, and if you have cycled along it in the past then we would like your help. Muddy Lane is a very strategic route for cyclists heading south from this area, there are few safe alternatives.
It has been used without hindrance for many years, but recently one landowner has decided that cyclists are not welcome and is trying to prevent anyone from using the lane. We (Woking Cycle Users Group, Elmbridge Cycle Group and CTC Woking) have made an official map modification application, so that the right to use this lane is preserved. For this, we needed to identify people who had cycled this path at any time between 1983 and 2009. Did you, or do you know of anyone, who may have used this path during this time? We included about 50 evidence forms with our application but it is a case of the more we send, the better our chances will be to have the ruling in our favour. So, if you can help us, please get in touch with us so we can send you an evidence form to fill out. Send an e-mail to Carole at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you the form. Your help will be much appreciated.
April 2014. When we first sent the application (October 2013) we were 24th in line and now, 6 months later, we seemed to have crawled up to number 22. The Countryside Access Officer says it will probably be at least 12 months before any significant progress will be made.
May 2014 I attended the Countryside Access meeting this month and discovered we were now number 16 in line! We added another 6 submissions to our file. That makes a total of 57 evidence forms we have submitted.
June 2014 See the minutes of our AGM 2014 for full update.
May 2015 Our number has come up and the investigation has been assigned to an officer and she is gathering evidence and interviewing concerned parties!!! We submitted another 2 evidence forms.
March 2016 An email from Catherine Valient, received at the end of March, said:
I can confirm that I have completed the investigation and written my recommendation as a report. I have submitted that report to our legal team and they are in the process of considering the findings. I had hoped to be able to get the report to the April Planning & Regulatory Committee, however the legal team are quite inundated at the moment and they have indicated that they cannot meet that timescale. Unfortunately there is not a P&R Committee in May (due to elections), so the case will now be going to the June Committee meeting. At this stage I am unable to let you know what my recommendation is, as it has not been considered by the legal team. However, nearer to the date of the committee you will be able to see a full copy of the report and, if you wish to, you will be able to register to speak at the Committee meeting.
June 2016 Good news on the Muddy Lane issue. We received an e-mail from Catherine Valiant saying her report was going to the Planning and Regulatory Committee on 8 June with the recommendation that a Map Modification Order be made to change the status of the footpath to a bridleway. You can read her full report by following this link Planning & Regulatory Committee; her report is item 8. It makes interesting reading. We have no doubt there will be an objection and it will have to go to a public inquiry but at least we are moving along.
June 8th The planning and regulatory committee have approved the upgrade of Muddy Lane from footpath to bridleway. Obviously this will go to appeal and we can expect a public enquiry to be held. Catherine thinks this will be sometime after Christmas. She didn’t specify which Christmas. Anyway, good news for now. The objections at today’s meeting, by our friend, were a challenge to the dates that Catherine had chosen, and a claim that a previous court case about his fence obstructing the footpath had confirmed that it should actually be a footpath and not a bridleway. Both points were broadly ignored by the committee who voted 7-1 in favour.
May 2018 The Public Inquiry regarding Muddy Lane will be held at The Council Chamber, Woking Borough Council, Civic Offices, Gloucester Square, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6YL on 22 and 23 May 2018 starting at 10.00am. All welcome to attend.
June 2018 The Inquiry was adjourned due to a late submission by the main objector, relating to the height of the underpass under the M25 motorway (dedicated Muddy Lane enthusiasts can read more in the links below). A new date was made which was to be 26 June, but unfortunately that date has also had to be cancelled since Daniel Williams, our chief witness, has a conflict of dates. So no Inquiry on 26 June. Carole will send an email when the new date has been decided.
Objection part 1 Objection part 2
August 2018 Carole writes:
Dear All, As promised, the information regarding the continuation of the Muddy Lane Inquiry. I received this from Daniel a few days ago.
Muddy Lane Inquiry Recommencement
You will be interested to know that the Planning Inspectorate have finally fixed a date and I have confirmed a venue. I imagine you are already aware that 6-7th February 2019 was put forward. A long time away!!
I have secured my representative and the same venue as last time for those days. So it will commence at 10am on 6th and we have until 4pm on the 7th. Hopefully we can complete this time. I attach the usual venue details for information.
Updates about this will appear on our website.
Feel free to pass this on to anybody who may wish to know.
I look forward to speaking about this further as the time approaches.
Countryside Access Officer
When I emailed saying how disappointed I was that it was so far in the future he replied:
“Yes I was expecting a date before the end of this year at the latest. I think the Planning Inspectorate are under a lot of strain at the moment- every transaction seems to be taking 2-3 times longer than it did a few years ago. I suspect like many public bodies they have been cut to the bone. It gives plenty of time to prepare and time to forget where we were if we are not careful.”
So the saga continues. I will be in touch with those who still wish to give evidence sometime in the New Year.
Regards, Carole and George
November 2018 We thought you might be interested to see the new documents and supplementary proof which Daniel Williams has submitted to the Secretary of State with regard to the recommencement of the Muddy Lane Inquiry. He thinks “ultimately that the inspector should not find any of these issues stops rights being acquired. Whether they might find a different status based upon the evidence as a whole is however something that remains to be seen.”
All the attachments are very technical so I have just attached the main document. I am sending it to all on my mailing list though it will probably make most sense to those who attended the initial enquiry in May. There are a lot of attachments and if you would like to see them, just let me know. The enquiry is still scheduled to be resumed 6 Feb. 2019.
Regards, Carole Frost
February 2019 Carole writes:
I thought I should get back to you and let you know that the saga continues and the inquiry was adjourned until 19 March. Daniel was cross-examined by the objectors all of Weds. afternoon and Thurs. morning (6-7 Feb) and then by our solicitor most of Thurs. afternoon. Mr. Garland gave his evidence about 4 on Thus. There wasn’t time to cross- examine him so that will happen on the 19th and the concluding statements will be made by both parties and if anyone wants to make a statement at that time, they can do so. Hopefully the site visit will be after all of that and then it will be finished and we will hear the results eventually.
You are all more than welcome to come and watch the proceedings on the 19th.
Carole Frost (WCUG) and George James (Elmbridge Cycle Group)
March 2019 Carole writes:
You might be interested to know that the Inquiry has finally come to a close. We will now have to wait for the results. The Inquiry recommenced on 19 March and went on for another day. There was a site visit on the 20th. This was attended by the Inspector, Mr. Salaman, Daniel Williams and Catherine Valient from Surrey County council, Marion Melcher (footpath officer for West Byfleet, Pyrford and Byfleet), George James and myself plus three others. The Inspector was shown the places that were mentioned in the different depositions. That afternoon there was the final summations. The day concluded by Surrey County Council making an application to the Inspector for an award of costs against the objectors. The Inspector will rule on this separately from the main subject of the inquiry.
So that is all the news for the moment. Keep your fingers crossed.
Carole Frost and George James