Plym Bridge Cycle Hub and Trails

The National Trust has today (Monday 31st October) announced that it is withdrawing its planning applications for the proposed cycle hub and trails at Plymbridge Woods on the edge of Plymouth.

This decision has been made following the recent discovery of a restrictive covenant which affects the site of the proposed hub cafe. The trails themselves are not affected, but as the trails and the café are inextricably linked (both in funding and practical terms), the applications for the whole scheme have been withdrawn, pending revisions.

John Longworth-Krafft, Assistant Director of Operations for the Trust said “Restrictive covenants are a complex area and the detail of this restrictive covenant remains unclear despite a great deal of work by our lawyers. We have therefore made the decision to withdraw whilst we understand our options. We are very aware that this will be a real disappointment to the many people and organisations that support our plans, and want to stress to these supporters that we are not abandoning this project.  We are also fully aware of concerns expressed by various local residents and users of the woods: The withdrawal of the application in order to deal with the restrictive covenant will also enable us to discuss these concerns with everyone and address them where necessary in the revised scheme”.

Mark Harold, the Trust’s Regional Director explained “The Trust is committed to achieving an off-road cycle facility at Plymbridge. We believe it offers significant public benefit, and it will be a flagship project for the National Trust in the South West, as part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme. This programme is an absolute priority for this region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land – through more opportunities for walking, cycling, kayaking, camping and other recreational activities.”

Paul Hawkins 1SouthWest Project Manager said “1 South West appreciates the situation that the National Trust finds itself in, and will be fully supporting the Trust in resubmitting the application in due course. Plymbridge is a prime strategic site for a development of this nature, offering realistic car-free access for a large number of people, and the presence of a National Trust team able to provide long term management. European funds have been made available to develop off-road cycling in South West England, and it is important for Plymouth to be a part of this unique opportunity.”

The National Trust will engage further with the community as part of the process of revising the scheme, with the aim of submitting fresh planning applications in early 2012.

Plymbridge Withdrawal of Planning Application Q&A

Q      Why has the Trust decided to withdraw its application?
We made this decision following our recent discovery of a restrictive covenant which affects the site of the proposed hub cafe. The trails themselves are not affected, but as the trails and the café are inextricably linked (both in funding and practical terms), the applications for the whole scheme have been withdrawn, pending revisions.

Q      Surely you should have found the restrictive covenant before you submitted an application?
This was an oversight. It is unusual for the Trust to have restrictive covenants on its own land. Once we discovered the restrictive covenant (which was after the planning applications had been submitted), the implications were unclear, and are still unclear. It has only been in the last few weeks that we have recognised that this restrictive covenant potentially affects the hub building proposal. Our lawyers have been urgently investigating it, but while investigations are continuing, we have made the decision to withdraw the planning applications in order to give more time to deal with this matter.

 Q      What is a restrictive covenant?
A restrictive covenant is a legal instrument which restricts the landowner from carrying out certain activities.

 Q      What does this restrictive covenant say?
The restrictive covenant relates to the meadow, and focuses on maintaining the amenity of the land for public enjoyment, together with potential restrictions on the proposed hub building.

 Q      Who does this restrictive covenant benefit?
We do not know. This is something we are still working to understand, and is one reason the matter is complex. The documents available to us through the Land Registry do not tell us, and a trail of sales and purchases over at least 25 years have to be followed.

 Q      Are we bowing to the pressure from the opposition?
No – we feel that it would be inappropriate to continue with the planning applications until we have resolved the restrictive covenant issue.

 Q      How have the Trust’s supporters taken the news?
Those who we have spoken to understand that the decision was made because of the restrictive covenant, and not because of a loss of commitment in the scheme. They are looking forward to our re-submission in due course. We are contacting all those who wrote to us to explain the situation, and we are stressing to all our supporters that we are not abandoning this project.

 Q      How can the Trust now withdraw a proposal that it felt was so important?
This is only a temporary situation. We will be revising the scheme and submitting a fresh planning application, engaging further with the community as part of the process.

 Q      Is the Trust now going back on the great importance it placed on developing a cycle hub?
Definitely not: The Trust is committed to achieving an off-road cycle facility at Plymbridge. We believe it offers significant public benefit, and it will be a flagship project for the National Trust in the South West, as part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme. This programme is an absolute priority for this region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land.

 Q      How much money has this cost the National Trust and was it worth it?
The money that has been spent so far was essential to progressing the scheme to this stage, and is not wasted as we intend to resubmit planning applications next year.

 Q      Should you be spending National Trust members’ money like this?
This project is an important part of our national ‘Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature’ programme, which is an absolute priority for the South West region, enabling us to improve and diversify people’s access and enjoyment of Trust land. We are convinced that this programme is vital to the long term future of the Trust, and therefore we believe that using some of our funds on this project at Plymbridge is appropriate.

 Q      What is the Trust going to do now?
We will be investigating the covenant situation in more detail, and engaging further with the community as part of the process of revising the scheme. The aim is to submit fresh planning applications in early 2012.

1 Comment

  1. Tim   •  

    Hi,

    Clearly the Friends of Plymbridge woods are very against cycling. One of the common objections is the belief that mtb will criss cross pedestrian routes and be a danger to walkers. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE explain how it works at other mtb centres such as those in Wales. Any intersection with walking routes ensures cyclists have to dismount to get through small access points which cannot be ridden through and as such kills speed and ensures no possible collisions can occur. Please find a way to express this to the Friends group in a sensible open way to appease their concerns. They are a powerful vocal group and the only way the plan will go ahead is through engagement with them and their concerns.

    Please pursue this plan, it is sorely needed.

    Tim

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