Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Court of Appeal ruling allows Taylor Wimpey development to proceed

Out-Law News | 21 Mar 2012 | 2:53 pm | 1 min. read

Developer Taylor Wimpey can proceed with its 138 home development in Chippenham following a Court of Appeal ruling which confirmed that a lane, which is crucial to the development, is a public vehicular highway, and not a bridleway limited to walkers and riders.

Local resident Vera Fortune had appealed against the High Court's ruling that the lane is a public highway. Fortune is opposed to the development plans and her home backs on to the almost 350-year old Rowden Lane.

Lord Justice Lewison today upheld Judge McCahill QC's ruling that the lane had been a public vehicular highway since before 1835, when the first of the modern Highways Acts came into force.

Planning permission for the development was granted on appeal in 2002, despite objections raised by Mrs Fortune and her neighbours.

In his decision Lord Justice Lewison ruled that even if some of the factual findings made by the Judge McCahill QC about the history of the lane could be "chipped away", his decision must be upheld.

"In our judgment, the judge (Judge McCahill QC) was amply justified in concluding on the material before him that, even without reliance on the evidence of modern use, Rowden Lane was a vehicular highway," ruled Lord Justice Lewison.

He also upheld Judge McCahill QC's ruling that the vehicular highway stretches the full width of the lane "from hedge to hedge".

Fortune argued that although the lane could previously have been a public vehicular highway, this status was extinguished by the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, which was enacted to protect so-called "green lanes" from misuse by motorcyclists and other vehicle users.

However, Lord Justice Lewison found that the lane fell within an exception of the Act, because it was included on a "list of streets" maintained in an electronic database by Wiltshire Council.