Fight to protect future of St Albans meadow

Bedmond Meadow

Bedmond Meadow - Credit: Archant

Evidence is being sought by a residents association which is looking into whether or not unofficial footpaths crossing a wildlife meadow could be adopted as public rights of way.

Verulam Residents Association has been trying to prevent the meadow between Bedmond Lane and Mayne Avenue being developed by its owners Banner Homes, now part of the Cala Group.

A planning application to change the use of the meadow for the keeping of horses - generally seen as a forerunner to a bid for residential development - was unsuccessful.

And in October a bid by Banner Homes to contest a district council decision to list the land as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) was also unsuccessful.

But the housing company has lodged a further appeal with a tribunal which is due to be held in March making it urgent that as many people as possible who have enjoyed the meadow come forward and make their case.

To get the footpaths adopted as public rights of way, evidence has to be presented to to the county council of the extent that people have used the footpaths and for how long.

Usage may be for walking or cycling and can range from daily use through to once a week and even to once a month.

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The period of use may be continuous over a number of months or years - although it is acceptable if it has been interrupted for some reason - and the residents association has to provide evidence of use for a period of 20 years and over.

But all usage is taken into account, even if it is for a far shorter period of time, so even residents who have lived on the estate for a short period of time can add weight to the argument.

The important aspect is that the route taken is specified precisely and accurately and aerial photos are being researched which will be made available to people marking their routes.

Verulam Estate resident Dr Robert Wareing will make user evidence forms available shortly. He said: “A key point is that if enough people come forward to support this rights of way application and make it viable, then it will be added evidence of the strength of local feeling to retain the meadow as an ACV. “It will demonstrate that we are making serious efforts to preserve access to the meadow.”