The Inspector had now issued an interim order on the application for a right of way through Junctin 9 M3/A34. As it is quite complicated, it is summarised below. The map available below as an attachment also explains the letters.
- Section G – E: subway on the Easton side and the route as far as the M3 overbridge is confirmed as a bridleway. This is the section from Easton Lane on the Easton side through the subway and as far as the overbridge over the M3.
- Section E - C (M3 overbridge) is not confirmed as it is ruled it is deemed to be a footway alongside a highway and under the Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 use by cyclists is illegal.
- Section A – B (HCC land from outside Tesco to the start of the first subway) is not confirmed as it deemed to still be a footway adjacent to a highway despite it having a signed, designated cycle route on it
- Section C – B (subway on the Winchester side). It is not confirmed as a bridleway because “it is not possible, at common law, to have an isolated highway that does not link to another highway at least at one end. The result is that, whatever status Subway B-C does have, I cannot confirm this section as a public bridleway.
This is a partial success. Our right to cycle from Easton Lane on the Easton side as far as the start of the overbridge is confirmed. However, it raises more questions than it answers. It is just possible that if A-B were regularised, this might unlock the subway B-C as the Inspector seemed to be indicating that the reason for not confirming it was that it was an “isolated highway”.
However, HCC Strategic Transport has now indicated verbally that it is likely to refuse our request to regularise the situation with regard to A-B despite the fact that it was their error that we are apparently riding illegally on that section. The reason for their refusal is that the junction is too important for the economy of the south of England and regularising our use might “compromise the redevelopment of the junction by Highways England”. Potentially this could mean that there is no intention to provide a satisfactory route for cyclists or even pedestrians as part of the redevelopment.
I personally find this response very disappointing (I could use much stronger language) as I fail to see how giving us the right to cycle on that section would compromise future redevelopment of the junction.
It was agreed at our recent committee meeting that we should continue to press for A-B to be changed to a cycleway, initially through political channels but then through a press campaign although the possibility of some form of public action was not excluded.
This saga has been ongoing for too long and seems likely to continue for some time.