Rights of Way. We have a problem in
Most rights of way, whether private or public, in the early days were footpaths. There were few wheeled vehicles in
Now that everyone in the twenty first century in
Ten feet is no longer considered by modern planners to be sufficient. They prefer a minimum of twenty feet. They would ask for forty feet if they could get it. The problem has always been how to persuade landowners to give up such a considerable portion of their land to facilitate members of the public who want to cross over.
One legal way to do this is for the Crown to acquire the land, and to pay compensation for its acquisition. This takes private land and turns it into an acceptably wide public right of way. Any member of the public can use it. That has always been unpopular in
Another way to widen a right of way is to persuade the landowners to voluntarily widen the private rights of way over their land. That is hard to do most of the time. It requires negotiation, which almost suggests confrontation. Anguillians will do anything to avoid confrontation if they can.
It becomes much easier when the landowner is dividing up his land for sale or distribution to heirs. Then, he is at his most vulnerable. He needs planning permission to subdivide his land. The Planning Department can ask something in return. The Department can put pressure on him to agree to make a wider than necessary road allocation. If he refuses, he faces his application for subdivision being refused or held up. He is not encouraged to negotiate a joint road with his neighbour. He is simply told that he is obliged to make the entire road provision out of his land. This is done even though his neighbour would have loved discussing with him to make a common private road for the use of both their lands.
Acquisition or forced consent, those are two preferred methods in
There is another way. It is the way utilized in most of the rest of the world. I submit to you that it is the proper way. It remains to me a great pity that it is ignored by the authorities in
What in my opinion is not acceptable is to force the landowner, who wishes to sub-divide his land, to set aside a strip for, say, a twenty foot wide right of way along one of his boundaries. He is told he must permit his surveyor to cut off a twenty foot wide strip of land running the full length of his land. It is then registered in the Land Registry as “ROW”. This presumably stands for “right of way”. “Presumably” because no person has been given any right to use this strip as an access. It is just a strip of land labeled “right of way”. Such a provision of land is not a right of way that belongs to any person at all. It is just a piece of my land labeled “right of way”.
It is quite simply an extortion committed on a vulnerable private citizen by a powerful government department.
It is a fraud in that it unnecessarily extorts land from usually poor and uninformed persons. It penalizes these vulnerable persons without creating any public benefit of any kind. This fraudulent device actually prevents Anguillian landowners from doing the right thing and creating genuine rights of way over their private lands.
I have been coming across more and more examples of it recently.
I wish to discuss this in more detail over the coming days.
Have you any experience you would like to share about the Planning Department obliging you to do something unreasonable about a right of way over your land? Tell us about it.