THE Domesday Book has been consulted in a long running claim dating back at least 15 years involving a bridleway on Chester's outskirts.
Public rights of way officers at Cheshire County Council have been told by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn they should make an order to confirm the 1,000m route, running from Christleton to Cotton Edmunds partly over land owned by the Grosvenor Estate.
The bridleway, claimed by Bernadette Hardern of Tarporley, continues from an existing bridleway starting in Christleton which comes to a dead end.
Recommending the new length of bridleway should be added to the definitive map, inspector Barney Grimshaw overturned decisions by county councillors and a previous inspector to reject Miss Hardern’s claim..
He accepted there is insufficient evidence to show a public right of way exists but recommended the appeal should be allowed as he believes there is no incontrovertible argument the bridleway could not reasonably be claimed to run across the land.
The county council feels that although some maps suggest the possibility of a route between Birth Heath and Cotton Hall, documents such as the Domesday Book show it is on private land.
In a survey in 1953, Christleton Parish Council suggested there was a footpath to the parish boundary but a decision was taken by the county council at that stage to omit it from the definitive map.
There was no record it continued in Cotton Edmunds.
Forty years later, the Grosvenor Estate said it had “no intention” of dedicating any public right of way across its property.
Parish councillors made no formal response to the renewed application put forward by Miss Hardern in 2001 when a previous appeal had been dismissed.
Miss Hardern told the appeal the bridleway was an ancient route dating back to at least the 15th century.
In his finding, the inspector notes the Grosvenor Estate itself commented 10 years ago that “this bridleway has not been use dor many years”.
An aerial photograph taken by the RAF in 1947 showed the whole of the claimed route but gave no indication of its status as did a large number of maps produced since the early 19th century.
Mr Grimshaw agreed with Miss Hardern that in the late 18th century it was unlikely that commissioners at that time would have created the existing length of bridleway as a cul de sac.
He believes there is a “considerable body of evidence” suggesting the existence of a through route but not of its status.
The county council is now required to modify its definitive map and to advertise the route for public consultation which councillors have agreed to do.
In the event there is a public inquiry into any objections which may be received, it is intending to take a neutral position, according to a report.