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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 identify improvements, such as new links, better information and management, which will provide a better local Rights of Way (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 our provisional 2005 LTP.

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 fully integrate  RoWIPs with the provisional LTP2.  This is because of  the tight timescale for submitting LTP2 in July 2005, 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 which support  leisure, recreation, sport, tourism and quality of life.  In many parts of the West Midlands, 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 January 2005’ shows the state of preparation of RoWIPs at 31st January 2005.

 
Table 1 State of Preparation of Right of Way Improvement Plans at 31st January 2005

Key Task

Birmingham

Coventry

Dudley

Sandwell

Solihull

Walsall

Wolverhampton

Assemble information on RoW network

complete

in progress

complete

complete

in progress

complete

complete

Review links with other plans and strategies

complete

in progress

in progress

complete

complete

Review condition, status and requests

in progress

complete

in progress

in progress

Collate information on trip generators

in progress

in progress

in progress

Consult public and others about needs

 

Prepare Action Plan

 

Publish draft RoWIP for public comment

 

Review comments and amend RoWIP

 

Adopt RoWIP

 

Further progress on each Authority’s RoWIP will be reported in our final LTP2 submission in March 2006, and in subsequent 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, and have identified a budget heading within the LTP2 for ROW schemes.

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.

A first assessment shows 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:

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.  All proposals will contribute towards the Transport Shared Priority objectives and wider Quality of Life objectives, by: