Due to anti-social behaviour, quad bike use and criminality, we have been looking to close access off to the segment of the ginnel between Pepper Road to steps just before the stairs leading to Clayton Road for some time in the interest of residents.
Following protracted delays, Networks Rail, the majority landowner of the ginnel land, has agreed in principle to a full or partial closure of the ginnel should the Leeds Highways Adoption be lifted but there has be a long running issue with the landownership or large segments of unregistered land in the ginnel.
We had presumed he ownership of the unregistered land would in the ginnel would split 50/50 between Network Rail to the north side and seven residential properties to the south if the highway adoption was to be removed.
However, we have now been advised by the Councils Legal Services team that historic registered titles on the Claytons housing development site indicate that Network Rail’s predecessors (British Railways Board) owned the land on either side of the ginnel and sold the site of the private housing development in 1968.
Based on their findings it is likely that the entirety the ginnel would have been owned by the British Railways Board, it is therefore unlikely that any adjacent private house owners would be entitled to rely on or claim the half-width rule presumption of ownership in the event of the ginnel being stopped up.
If Network Rail are willing to presume ownership of the full extents of the ginnel it would not be necessary to involve residents in agreements or land transfers, the Council would therefore need Network Rail to accept these findings in order to be able to proceed with the stopping up order.
We are confident they will as they has previously stated they wanted all the ginnel land to be under their control before they would agree to us closing off access to the ginnel between Pepper Road and the Clayton Road steps.
There are now a few matter we need to resolve before we can put a formal request before Network Rail and the Magistrate Courts to close the ginnel:
Identify the cost to remove the four street lamps in the ginnel and the budget. But as councillors we have indicated we cover this cost from local delegated budgets.
Confirm statutory access rights to the electrical cabling in the ginnel and if a fence with a locked gate will be satisfactory to prevent the need for an costly redirection of services.
Establish the case the made that the ginnel is “unnecessary” which in this case means the council will need to demonstrate that there are better alternative routes. Whilst the alternative routes are longer they offer better surfacing, lighting and safety but we need to do an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure no disabled people who might use the ginnel will be disadvantaged.
This issue has been going on for over two years and we really want this resolved once and for all for residents and just hope now the landownership looks to be resolved - we can quickly resolve the other matters.