The Somerford Village green Public Inquiry concluded on Wednesday the 10th May 2017 and it is now for the Inspector to compile his report and submit it to the Cheshire East Borough Council Public Rights of Way (PROW) committee. We do not know the timescale for this, or whether it will be publicised before the PROW committee sees it. Their next meeting is scheduled for Monday the 11th September and we would expect a result by or before then. Whatever the recommendation, it will be for the PROW committee to either accept or reject it.
Of the 33 or so witnesses for the application who submitted written statements, 11 attended to give oral evidence and submit to cross-examination.
All of them gave their evidence in an excellent manner and the parish/neighbourhood should give them credit for giving up their free-time to submit to an ordeal which some found quite daunting.
The inspector having been provided with as much evidence as could be mustered on behalf of the application, we did not stay for the objectors (principally CEBC Highways Department staff) evidence – we having already seen it in written format. After hearing all the evidence the inspector conducted an unaccompanied site visit. His decision is likely to hinge on three key areas:
1. Is “The Somerford Triangle” a sufficiently well-defined and cohesive community such as to be able to be described as a “neighbourhood”?
2. Is the area the subject of the application, on the balance of probabilities, highway or “common” land?
3. If it is highway, is the use evidenced by the witnesses sufficient to show use beyond what might be use attributable to a highway?
We now await his report.