Public inquiry into Berkley Lane and Dark Lane ‘pedestrianisation’

by adamboyden on 29 September, 2023


The delayed public local inquiry into Somerset Council’s proposal to extinguish vehicular rights along Dark Lane and a section of Berkley Lane to the north of Frome will now be held on 9 – 11 April 2024 from 10am at Somerset Council’s offices at Cannards Grave, Shepton Mallet. The proposal, previously by Mendip District Council, aims to reduce flytipping in the area at this historic hotspot.

If you have any statement to make (to support of object), please email your statement (with evidence to back it up, and whether you wish to speak at the inquiry) by 4th March 2024 to case officer Paul Harrison at or by post to National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR, quoting reference NATTRAN/SW/S249/4967.

Original article:

A Public Local Inquiry is being held at the end of October into the proposal to tackle a flytipping hotspot. The proposal is for the Secretary of State for Transport to make an Order under Section 249 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to ‘extinguish the right to use vehicles on the highway’ on Dark Lane and a section of Berkley Lane to the north of Frome. Access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders would be unaffected.

The application was submitted by the former Mendip District Council in December 2021, after winning public support in a consultation and the backing of local councillors, to improve the amenity of the area by stopping flytipping from through traffic which has blighted the area for years and cost Council taxpayers tens of thousands.

After the Council was forced by legal action from a landowner to not renew its road closure in February 2021, a petition to keep the road closed, to reduce flytipping and speeding, was signed by 242 people online (see here) and many more in person. Mendip District Council then formed a Multi Agency Group (with Somerset County Council, police, Environment Agency, Berkley Parish and Frome Town Councils) and met several times to agree the way forward. I suggested using a section 249 Order to Extinguish the Right to Use Vehicles on a Highway, the idea was vetted and agreed by all parties, and won the support of a majority of the 252 local people who responded to the informal initial public consultation (see here and here). The proposal was debated and approved by Mendip District councillors at Full Council meeting in September 2021, and a formal public consultation was undertaken in March 2022 (see here). 14 people formally objected, which led to the public inquiry being required.

Here’s what you can do:

There is still time to write in by 2nd October to support (or to object) – please email your statement (with evidence to back it up, and whether you wish to speak at the inquiry) to case officer Paul Harrison at or by post to National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR, quoting reference NATTRAN/SW/S249/4967.

The inquiry is being held at the Somerset Council offices at Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet BA4 5BT, starting at 10am on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th October 2023. The Inspector will call speakers, but people particularly interested in the outcome should attend in person.

I will be writing in support, considering the need to reduce flytipping here, and I hope it works in making the lanes much more pleasant routes for walking, cycling and horse-riding in future.

See below for a map of the affected highways, the public notice about the inquiry, and the previous statement of case included in Mendip District Council’s application:

Below: the map of the affected area of Berkley Lane and Dark Lane in the application:

Below: newspaper notice in the Frome Standard, 28th September 2023 – this has an error in the reference number, which should be NATTRAN/SW/S249/4967 (not S247).

Mendip District Council’s Statement of Reasons in the application (December 2021) included the following:

‘Berkley Lane and Dark Lane, in the Parish of Berkley, just outside of Frome, have been associated with the District’s biggest fly tipping hotspot for many years.   When these roads have been open to traffic excessive fly-tipping and other unsightly environmental crime (burning waste) has occurred, resulting in a significant detrimental impact to the environment and the community’s enjoyment of the area. In 2015/16 it cost Mendip District Council £64,346 in additional clearance costs above the normal contract, due to the vast quantities and the frequency of fly-tipping clearances required.

Historically, to resolve these issues both Somerset County Council (SCC), through the implementation of a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order in 2016 and Mendip District Council (MDC) through the implementation of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in 2017 and 2018, have closed these lanes for significant periods of time, 18 months and 39 months respectively. The road closures created a pleasant amenity for residents to enjoy, specifically by making walking, riding, and cycling safer, but also reducing fly tipping by between 60% (averaged over time). It has protected the countryside from unsightly and damaging environmental crime and resulted in a significant reduction in annual fly-tipping clearance costs. 

On occasions, the lanes have had to be temporarily opened and the reintroduction of vehicles not only saw an increase in fly-tipping but led to feedback from the Parish of Berkley and its residents concerned with the safety of the lanes due to the speed of travelling vehicles through the single-track lanes.

In February 2021 Mendip’s Cabinet, following consideration of legal advice, resolved not to extend the 2018 PSPO or approve the implementation of a further PSPO, due to the risk of legal challenge, but sought to recommend that the situation be reviewed to establish a long-term and sustainable solution as a priority.

This resulted in the formation of a multi-agency group (MAG) consisting of representatives from:

  • Mendip District Council (MDC)
  • Somerset County Council (SCC)
  • Avon & Somerset Constabulary (ASC)
  • Berkley Parish Council
  • Frome Town Council
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (DSFRS)

Since March 2021 the multi-agency working group (MAG) has met regularly and liaised with local District and County councillors, to consider and assess a wide range of potential solutions. As a result, a paper was presented to Mendip District Council in September of 2021 to request support for the following suite of actions, agreed by all members of the MAG:

  1. Mendip District Council will resolve to apply for an Order from the Secretary of State to
    Extinguish the Right to Use Vehicles on a Highway under section 249 of the Town and Country
    Planning Act 1990 (a Pedestrianisation Order). This application is being sought to reduce the environmental criminality and anti-social behaviour in the area from both fly-tipping and speeding traffic to create a safe pedestrianised route for walkers, riders, and cyclists to enjoy.
  2. As the Local Highway Authority, Somerset County Council will, in support of this, apply for a
    Traffic Regulation Order under s.92 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
  3. Somerset County Council will also support, preventing access to vehicles by means of bollards
    or other form of obstruction as it considers appropriate.’

   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Sally Pillinger says:

    There is absolutely no need for this area to be open to traffic – it’s not on the way to anywhere. So, apart from the fly-tipping menace, I think it is vital that it remains traffic-free. We need more areas which are green, peaceful and pleasant places in which to spend our time. Opening this area to traffic helps no-one, other than those with anti-social tendencies.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>