Legal battle over Hadleigh footpath to cost thousands

Blocked off – Roy Brackin by the hoardings which prevent the public using what the county council has ruled to be a public right of way

Blocked off – Roy Brackin by the hoardings which prevent the public using what the county council has ruled to be a public right of way

First published in Local News
Last updated

TWO councils are set to go head to head over a public footpath in Hadleigh in a battle set to cost thousands of pounds.

The path, between the Crown pub, in London Road, and the library, in the High Street, has been in public use for more than 70 years.

County councillors recently formally declared the path a public right of way, effectively blocking Castle Point Council plans to divert it and use the strip of land as part of its £60million Hadleigh masterplan.

The borough council has now decided the land where the footpath runs is so important to its strategic plans it justified the expense of an appeal to Whitehall to overturn the ruling.

A Government inspector will preside over a public inquiry next week to consider whether to uphold the public right of way – agreed by County Hall after residents proved the path had been in use since 1940.

Campaigners want as many local people as possible to show up for the inquiry to show the the strength of feeling in the community. Roy Brackin, 80, of Solby’s Lane, Hadleigh, said: “If justice prevails, we will win.

“I know from my own experience that access has been in use for about 70 years without any obstruction.

“I remember using it when I was about ten years old.

“We must make a real effort not to lose this pathway, by supporting the Essex County Council order at the inquiry.”

The dispute began when the path was blocked by hoardings in 2011 while work went ahead to build the new Morrisons supermarket in London Road.

Once the supermarket was open, Castle Point Council decided to leave the path closed, prompting residents to apply to County Hall for it to be officially recognised as a public right of way.

The borough council wants to sell the land to a developer to help realise its regeneration plans for the town centre. It says the site could be used for housing or businesses.

David Hurrell, of Willow Walk, Hadleigh, said: “I am disappointed it has come to this – what will probably be an expensive exercise. Essex County Council spent a great deal of time deciding it was a legitimate cause, because of all the work Roy and everyone put in.

“It’s sad Castle Point Council should be so undemocratic about this and call it in.

“I don’t know why it is being so petulant. Its behaviour is reminiscent of a spoilt child.”

The public inquiry starts at 10am on Wednesday March 19 at the Castle Point Council offices in Kiln Road, Thundersley.

Castle Point Council has budgeted to spend £3,000 on the appeal against the county council’s right of way ruling.

The council insists the spending is justified because letting the path stay open would hamper future development.

It wants to move the path to make way for a “tree-lined boulevard”.

A borough council spokesman said: “The council has evidence to suggest there was never an intention of the owners of the land to provide a right of way through the site.

“The county council’s evidence does not warrant a change to the definitive map.

“The Crown site was shown in the Hadleigh Town Centre Master Plan as a family-friendly restaurant.

“A new public accessible tree-lined boulevard route running north to south is shown to be provided through the library site some 20metres to the west.

“The path will mean the value of the land would decrease, because this will be an unnecessary and unjustified constraint on the future development of the land.”

Essex County Council was unable to say how much it was likely to cost it in legal fees defending the right of way issue.

A spokesman said: “Following evidence submitted by members of the public showing the area had been used as a right of way for 50 years, the county council concluded it was reasonable to allege the route had, in fact, become a public footpath because of this.”

Comments (9)

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4:23pm Wed 12 Mar 14

blackheart says...

So now, the councillors who are elected by the people of the borough are using the money paid to them by those people to challenge something that those people do not want. Unbelievable, sack them all!!!
So now, the councillors who are elected by the people of the borough are using the money paid to them by those people to challenge something that those people do not want. Unbelievable, sack them all!!! blackheart
  • Score: 7

4:44pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Rat-man says...

It wouldn't have cost "thousands" if it wasn't for the egos of some.
It wouldn't have cost "thousands" if it wasn't for the egos of some. Rat-man
  • Score: 5

5:27pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Howard Cháse says...

Haven't they got any more important stuff to spend money on and argue about?
Haven't they got any more important stuff to spend money on and argue about? Howard Cháse
  • Score: 8

5:36pm Wed 12 Mar 14

jolllyboy says...

Dont be stupid. A public right of way is exactly that and cannot be closed. Dont waste your money. If this was to win then nothing at all is safe . Its bad enough we have to share space with bikes, horses and dogs without this.
Dont be stupid. A public right of way is exactly that and cannot be closed. Dont waste your money. If this was to win then nothing at all is safe . Its bad enough we have to share space with bikes, horses and dogs without this. jolllyboy
  • Score: 3

6:34pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Living the La Vida Legra says...

And the long route round the old fire station is 100 yards
It beggers belief ?
And the long route round the old fire station is 100 yards It beggers belief ? Living the La Vida Legra
  • Score: 0

7:47pm Wed 12 Mar 14

EssexPerson says...

Pathetic, the do-gooders are calling the council "petulant. and a spoilt child", personally I think its the other way. What a waste of money.
They are trying to improve Hadleigh but they'd rather have this tiny short cut because they are too lazy.
Pathetic, the do-gooders are calling the council "petulant. and a spoilt child", personally I think its the other way. What a waste of money. They are trying to improve Hadleigh but they'd rather have this tiny short cut because they are too lazy. EssexPerson
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Wed 12 Mar 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

so the council has to spend £3000 to fight the council...dumb.
so the council has to spend £3000 to fight the council...dumb. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 1

11:03pm Wed 12 Mar 14

andy:) says...

Pointless ! I can understand people fighting over a long footpath over a scenic route but all this is is a short little shortcut, as pointed out the 'long' way round is only a few yards upto the fire station. Idiots !
Pointless ! I can understand people fighting over a long footpath over a scenic route but all this is is a short little shortcut, as pointed out the 'long' way round is only a few yards upto the fire station. Idiots ! andy:)
  • Score: 0

8:03am Thu 13 Mar 14

pembury53 says...

put a toll on it, 2 quid a time
put a toll on it, 2 quid a time pembury53
  • Score: 0

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