We have a BOAT in Charlton – no, it’s not the HMS Queen Elizabeth recently awarded the Freedom of Wantage by our town council – it’s a Byway Open to All Traffic.

A Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) is a highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used by the public mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used (i.e. walking, cycling or horse riding)

The BOAT runs from Charlton Village Road to the north, over Crab Hill, to the canal then turns west just past the canal to join Station Road in Grove.

Ever since the Crab Hill development was first mooted, there have been discussions about the downgrading of the BOAT to a bridleway as it goes across the development.

Now the Secretary of State has given notice of the proposal to make an Order under section 247 of the Town and Countryside Act 1990 to authorise the stopping up of a length of Crabhill Lane. We understand that this is the mechanism used to downgrade the BOAT.

Notice has been given that the Secretary of State authorises the stopping up of a length of Crabhill Lane from grid reference E:441111 N:189035 (where the Wantage Eastern Link Road will cross the lane) in a southerly direction for a distance of 250 metres.

The Order states that “The developer shall to the reasonable satisfaction of Oxfordshire County Council provide [a] new bridleway as proposed and detailed in the approved planning permission, development plans and associated legal agreements”.

I am told that there is a consultation period until November 6 on the downgrading and if there are any serious objections then the National Transport Casework Team may order an enquiry.

If there is no enquiry, then this section of Crabhill Lane will be downgraded to a Bridleway.

A Bridleway is a right of way on which you can ride a bicycle (but not a mechanically propelled vehicle) but must give way to pedestrians and persons riding on horseback.

When researching this column, I found that we have another stretch of Byway Open to All Traffic in the centre of Wantage.

This stretches from the roundabout near Broadway Motors, along Seesen Way to Little Lane, then continues along Stirlings Road in front of the Library almost to Grove Street.

All of this is maintained highway so definitely open to all traffic unlike Crabhill Lane.