In February 1997, the applicant applied under s 53(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to reclassify the right of way in issue as a byway in accordance with s 67 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. The application was not signed and only half of the right of way was included. The local authority contacted the applicant to clarify his application by reference to a map, which applicant did so in a signed letter. The authority’s inspector considered RD’s application to be complete and in prescribed form stipulated in para 1 of Sch 14 to the 1981 Act. The claimant sought judicial review of that decision. It was common ground, however, that the appropriate route to challenge the inspector’s decision was via para 12 of Sch 15 to the 1981 Act.
The claimant argued that the requirements of para 1 of Sch 14 had to be strictly adhered to and that the applicant had failed to comply with its requirements. The Secretary of State sought to uphold the inspector’s decision on the reading of the application and subsequent correspondence taken as a whole.
Held: Application dismissed.
Taking into account the subsequent correspondence, it was clear what the application referred to and all the requirements demanded of an applicant had been complied with. It would be overly bureaucratic to find that the authority should have sent back the application for the applicant’s signature and clarification when the matter had been addressed in correspondence.