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Barry couple opens up on the nightmare of having a footpath across their drive

10 Oct 2023 5 minute read
Graham Underdown MBE and his wife Jean who have been living with a footpath running up their driveway for more than 20 years. Pic: Ted Peskett

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

A couple with a footpath stretching across their driveway have revealed their 20-year-long struggle to get it removed.

Jean and Graham Underdown said they bought their home in Clos Cwm Barri in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, in 1999 and have now had numerous attempts to remove the footpath going up their driveway refused by Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Mud and dog mess is often on their driveway, the couple said, and their attempts to have the footpath gated off has resulted in further upset.

The Underdowns say their privacy is being infringed upon and allege they have faced several instances of intimidation and vandalism including having rocks and breeze blocks thrown at their cars – one of which was written off.

Hindered

However some local residents pointed to the council’s decisions over the years to keep the footpath in place and said their right to walk along it was being hindered.

Jean said: “The actual footpath is only one metre wide but they don’t stick to the one metre.

“They walk right the way across the whole width of the drive.”

Taylor Wimpey obtained planning permission to build new homes in Cwm Barry Farm off Pontypridd Road in 1994 and Vale of Glamorgan Council’s order for the creation of a footpath off Clos Cwm Barri was confirmed in 2003.

The footpath on the Underdowns’ property, known as Footpath 73, gives walkers access to Porthkerry Country Park from the estate.

Applications were made for the deletion of footpath 73 in 2009 however these were dismissed.

Jean added: “Some people like to walk over and have a look at what I am growing in the garden and things like that. It is intrusive.

“We came here thinking: ‘Right, we have got a private drive. We will not have every Tom, Dick, and Harry walking through our property.’ But that is exactly what happened.”

Graham said: “I have had people wanting to fight me on the drive, a car written off, dogs in the house – you name it we have had it.

“I have had one car written off and one breeze block put through the window of the present car.”

Another issue the Underdowns said they faced was people using their driveway to access the nearby field to camp and use scrambler bikes in.

Jean said there have also been raves in the field where the footpath leads to and people with air rifles and wearing ski masks walking past the house.

Damage inflicted on Graham Underdown’s car after the windows were smashed in with rocks. Pic: Graham Underdown MBE

Evidence

A valuation of Jean and Graham’s property conducted in 2012 showed that it was worth £60,000 less than what it would be without the public footpath at the time.

Vale of Glamorgan Council argued in their most recent ruling to keep Footpath 73 in place that it had already been used as a footpath for more than 20 years.

However the Underdowns argue that there was never a public right of way where Footpath 73 is now.

“The footpath never ever existed,” said Jean. “I am a fourth generation brought up in this area.

“My ancestors came to Barry in the late 1800s and we have been here ever since and I know there was no footpath over these fields ever.”

A professional aerial photography service called Air Photo Service was instructed by the applicant calling for the deletion of Footpath 73 to carry out a study of the site.

At a Vale of Glamorgan Council planning sub-committee meeting in September Christine Cox of Air Photo Service said that aerial photographs taken in 1979, 1981, 1990, 1992, and 2000 show that there is no trace of a public right of way along what is now Footpath 73 during that period.

A council report presented to the planning sub-committee claimed that “aerial photographs cannot in any event provide persuasive evidence of the status of a right of way or the basis on which it is used”.

The Underdowns have gated off the access to Footpath 73 in Barry after claiming that it should not be there in the first place. Pic: Ted Peskett.

‘Incensed’

One resident who did not want to be named said they did not condone the incidents of violence and intimidation aimed at the Underdowns and another said that they and many other residents use the path without disturbing the couple and are respectful of their property.

However they maintained that many people in the neighbourhood are “incensed” that the footpath continues to be gated off when it should be left open.

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “This matter was considered in detail, as was the comprehensive documentation submitted, at the meeting of the council’s Public Rights of Way Sub-Committee.

“The committee determined that the application to delete the footpath as recorded on the definitive map be declined.

“The applicant has the right to appeal this decision. We understand this is currently being considered.”


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Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

In most of northern and mid Wales the constant battle between rights of way being blocked by second home owners and incomers are always news All these folk will have had legal searches done ✔️ all will be aware or should be aware that rights of way are on the OS maps. ✔️. To be fare many of the incomers are in battles with other local incomers who love ❤️ country walks so long as it is not adjacent to their cottage. The worst types -‘ white van man” and small Builders who pop into northern Wales along the A55… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Richard E
Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

Not just ‘second home owners and incomers’ either. ‘Locals’ are at it too.

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

The footpath was there when they bought the house. No sympathy for these people.

Karina
Karina
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

The footpath was not there when they brought the house.

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
7 months ago

This sounds like a situation that should never have arisen as from the text it seems that both the house and property are relatively recent as is the footpath. It seems that the planning authority and the council are to blame and should work towards a resolution. Here in Cheshire there seems to be no issue in deleting long established paths if valuable developments obliterate them. It has to be said that dog walkers are indifferent to the inconvenience they cause leaving faeces on playing fields and paths without regard to other people. Also such paths do attract all sorts… Read more »

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago

A footpath is not a public right of way or a byway or a path with public access. Nothing to do with planning authorities at all .

Nic
Nic
7 months ago

I have lived here for over 26 years and have never encountered anyone behaving badly or in a criminal way whilst using said footpath . The couple have a camera pointing directly at the path , so there should be plenty of evidence of the “alleged ” incidents don’t you think ,?? If you lived here you might understand more of this situation, remember newspapers report generally only one side of the story .

Karina
Karina
6 months ago
Reply to  Nic

They do have evidence of said incidents and just because you haven’t witnessed them, dosent mean it doesn’t happen. Are you present 24/7 to see every incident, no your not so your comment is irrelevant. The newspaper has printed the true side of this story. No need for criminal damage and intimidation

David
David
7 months ago

I and my dog take issue with your pathetic statement, its a footpath so deal with it

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 months ago

Whatever the history of this situation, I suspect this path could be rerouted so it didn’t cross this couple’s drive. Whoever is “to blame” for this, moving the path would remove a bone of contention for the community. It looks like all that is needed is trimming a hedgerow a bit closer to the road and letting the existing path grow over, and an update to the RoW register

Karl
Karl
7 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

It doesn’t cross their drive. It skirts the edge of a joint drive they share with a neighbour. they even have land between the path and their double garage. Its all comp face and selfish.

Karina
Karina
6 months ago
Reply to  Karl

So why do people not stick to the path and leave their drive alone then? Because other people are selfish and do it to intimidate the couple. Not the couple being selfish at all. You wouldn’t like it if this was your property

Gary H
Gary H
7 months ago

Sounds to me like they have a case against anyone who did the searches for them when they bought….or did they just ignore the situation? But though tough it may be, publuc rights of way must come first.

Karl
Karl
7 months ago

Compo faces. Why not just buid a fence creating a narrow lane like others do. Initially you think crap across the drive, but no its skirts the edge of a very big drive. And gives them also access to green spaces on the doorstep.

RdWd
RdWd
7 months ago

The imagery in the article is misleading. I just looked on Google maps and it seems a lot of this could be solved by simply erecting a boundary wall/fence at the end of their drive. They could even install a gate? No disrespect to them, but I think that would solve a lot of their problems.

Richard E
Richard E
7 months ago
Reply to  RdWd

The OS have a registered list of public footpath, public rights of Way, Byways and private land with ‘ established ‘ or shared rights of Way. Those charged in our own country with guardianship of these include community councils , town councils , county or county borough councils plus in some areas The National
Trust, Trustees of private or former private estates , the National Parks / AONBs through delegated authority and in rare cases Dwr Cymru and a few others .

Hope this helps 👀

Jezzy
Jezzy
7 months ago
Reply to  RdWd

Fact is that this couple had a low wall , with fencing and plants which separated their property from the path . They chose to take it down a few years ago ,goodness knows why ? It’s also important to know that their house is set quite a distance back from the said footpath and anyone walking on it does not come anywhere near their property . They cannot choose to restrict access to the fields when they knew of it existence when they moved in. It is also a shared driveway with another house who also have a right… Read more »

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
7 months ago

These ‘ancient rights of way’ have become a ridiculous fetish with petty, obsessive political troublemakers. In a sane country any necessary pathway or access could be judiciously re-routed in order that no-one is especially inconvenienced or hindered or put at a disadvantage. Historic record of a right of way where the original function of the path has lapsed is in law normally known as a case of ‘a right of no effect.’ My modernised house is one of those in my neighbourhood that has in the deeds an obsolete right of access across adjacent property to collect water from a… Read more »

Glwyo
Glwyo
7 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

In a sane country public rights of way wouldn’t have houses built haphazardly over them.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
7 months ago
Reply to  Glwyo

In any sane country routes would change or even disappear according to practical necessity unless there was some important archaeological significance to them. Access to the countryside and it’s historical record should of course remain for all. But just refusing to acknowledge the passage of time and changes of domestic and commercial land use is unreasonable. It is good when old ways can be kept open, but the expectation of preserving the same old customary route precisely as once delineated on ancient and superceded maps is mere obsessive eccentricity; a detour is after all part of any pleasurably idle stroll… Read more »

David
David
7 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Are you high on drugs

David
David
7 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

What a load of waffle

Glwyo
Glwyo
7 months ago

It takes but a quick glance in the old Google street view to see how pathetic this is.

Frank
Frank
7 months ago

How did the housing developer get planning permission to build a house on a plot with a public footpath in the first place? It seems to me that it is the house that is the problem and not the pedestrians. Who in the council planning dept. allowed this?

stephen humphreys
stephen humphreys
7 months ago

This is a concerted propaganda campaign by land owner to prevent public using their right of way. They removed a hedge that segregated their driveweay from the footpath so have created these problems themselves. Put the hedge back and you will no longer have people wandering onto your driveway.
Nothing but a shameless landgrab and persecution of people exercising their right of way.

David
David
7 months ago

I agree we need more access not less

David
David
7 months ago

You buy a house with a footpath, deal with it

Karina
Karina
6 months ago
Reply to  David

The footpath was not on the plans when they brought the house. Your comment is irrelevant. There is another access 5 minutes down the road,, so they are not trying to cut off access completely, just to their drive. So why don’t people walk another 5 mins to the other access route into the estate, because your all too bloody lazy

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