ROWIP Action Plan Summary
Leicestershire has a wonderful network of public rights of way. More than 40% of the highways in the county are made up of footpaths, bridleways and byways.
This unique resource of more than 3000 kilometres (1876 miles) of paths is the best recreational asset the County possesses. The network is often the only way for people to explore their local area and enjoy the countryside and act as a major local day visit and tourism resource. The routes also provide local paths that link communities and give access to schools, shops, work places and other facilities for many people.
In conjunction with the second Local Transport Plan (LTP), the County Council produced a comprehensive Rights Of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) in 2006
The plan took a long-term vision to develop and manage the network of paths to meet the current and future needs of the community. The authority is required to publish a new plan every 10 years. The main focus of the document, the research carried out and the conclusions reached remain valid. The plan was also required to set out a statement of action that we propose to take to manage the local rights of way network. This included proposals for securing an improved network to reflect the needs identified in the plan. A five year Action Plan for the period 2006 – 2011 was published alongside the plan. This was linked to the lifecycle of the last Local Transport Plan.
The Council has now produced the third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) which was published on 1st April 2011.
This provides a long-term strategy for transport within the county, including the rights of way network. This sets out how the County Council will manage and improve transport planning provision in Leicestershire. It also seeks to ensure that transport continues to play its important role in helping Leicestershire to continue to be a prosperous, safe and attractive county. The LTP3 is supported by a suite of documents including the ROWIP.
This revision of the Rights Of Way Action Plan covers the period 2011 – 2016. It sets out a programme for the continuing delivery of the rights of way service, within the context of the broader proposals for the management of the network set out in the ROWIP. The document is intended to be updated at appropriate periods and will include reporting on progress and supporting the LTP3 Implementation Plan for the period 2011-2014.
Although the rights of way network has developed over hundreds of years, the ROWIP recognises that it must meet the current and future needs of the public. National and local research has underlined the importance of walking and cycling in people’s everyday lives. Responses from the public repeatedly underline the quality of life contribution that walking and riding provides both within the local community and accessing the environment around them. It is also sustainable in the short and long term, providing opportunities for people now and in the future. The Chief Medical Officer has repeatedly reported on the link between physical activity and health. He has described walking as probably the best way to increasing physical activity levels and the health of the nation. It is also socially inclusive and supported by many voluntary groups as well as contributing to mental well being.
Some of the key findings in the ROWIP included:
- 90% of the Leicestershire public see access to the countryside as important
- Most people in the county go walking, cycling or riding in the countryside at least once a month
- More than 90% of the Leicestershire public live in or close to predominantly urban areas and 46% of the network is within and around these areas, amounting to 1400 kilometres (870 miles) of routes
- Most walking journeys begin from the doorstep
- The main motivation for walkers and riders is because it is fun and healthy.
- Over the last 25 years, the amount of miles travelled on foot and bicycle fell by more than 25%
- Physical activity, walking in particular, could make the single most effective contribution to the health of the county.
Society is increasingly dependent on the car and we live ever more sedentary lifestyles. Often those groups in society that would benefit most from more active lifestyles, are those least likely to undertake exercise. The ROWIP recognised that much needed to be done to arrest the decline in walking and riding. The proposals set in the first Action Plan were focused on providing improved infrastructure for people to walk and ride, especially close to where they live.
The challenge is now to involve and encourage a wider section of society and make walking and cycling or part of our everyday lives. The LTP3 recognises this and also takes a broad approach, recognising the link between a range of services that contribute to encouraging people to live more active lives.
Access should be for all, and to be so it needs to compete with the car for utilitarian journeys and a host of other activities for recreational time. It needs to be available near to everyone’s home, be fun, attractive and free from physical and mental barriers.
This Action Plan includes proposals to maximise use of the network through more effective promotion and marketing, together with working with partners to encourage more people to walk and ride on a regular basis. It also sets out how the network will be maintained and developed.
The ROWIP and associated Action Plan are developed in consultation with the Leicestershire Local Access Forum (LLAF). The forum is a statutory group that provides advice to the County Council and other bodies, on theimprovement of public access for the purposes of open-air recreation and enjoyment in Leicestershire.
The County Council has a statutory role as:
- A local highway authority to maintain and sign routes on the ground and to keep them open for people to use.
- A local surveying authority to map all of the paths on the Definitive Map and let people know where they are.
- An access authority to look after open access sites and rights.
This plan sets out a series of actions to meet these areas of work to maximise the use of the network in the most cost efficient way. In summary, the LTP3 and the ROWIP have set the framework for this to happen.
The Council, working with other agencies, including the voluntary sector and other authorities aims to:
- Develop and manage a rights of way network that meets the current and future needs of the local community
- Provide a good quality and value for money rights of way service
- Enable as many people as possible to walk and ride, with particular focus on those currently excluded including the young and those with mobility problems
- Contribute towards improving the health of residents of Leicestershire and reduce their carbon footprint
- Promote Leicestershire as an attractive place to walk, cycle & ride for all including those living in or visiting the county
- Monitor and report on how we are achieving these goals at regular intervals
Page Last Updated: 5 July 2012