Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, says: "It is a great achievement of the Prices and local people to have claimed this path for the map and now to get it opened up. It's an important route to the coast, and soon will be enjoyed by everyone. We are pleased that Cornwall Council's enforcement officer has taken such resolute action in defence of the public interest." (28th January 2010 Media Release OSS)
However, even though this right of way has been legally established, it still has guards posted on the route 24 hours a day. The gates are still on site and whilst these gates are open during the day, they are partially closed each evening. This is despite the fact that the law states that the right of way extends to the full width of the road and at all times of the day, not simply during a time convenient to the landowner. Obstruction of a right of way is illegal.
The guards in the evening radio the progress of each user between guard posts, the gates are then opened to facilitate passage. This is not user as of right, as recently confirmed by a High Court judgement.
In February, High Court judge Mr Justice Cranston ruled that the gates erected across Barcroft Lane by Brian Herrick, owner of the £3.8 million Barcroft Hall at South Petherton in Somerset, were unlawful (Herrick v Kidner and Somerset County Council (2010) EWHC 269 (Admin)). He also stated: "There is no reason to confine interferences to physical interference. An object can get in the way of the right of passage or other amenity rights because of its psychological impact."
The closure of the gates and the 24-hour guarding is quite clearly not only a physical barrier but also a psychological one, plus a loss of amenity. This has been decided by this case to be illegal.
We also applied (in December 2009) for the remaining section of the path to the Mean High Water mark to be added to the map. This application was finally approved in January 2013, but now is subject to a Public Inquiry after an appeal by CEG. That inquiry is to be held in June 2014.
SOUTH WEST COASTAL PATH
The long established South West Coastal Path (SWCP) no 36 is also obstructed by the developer's guard cabin, which is used 24 hours a day. Around the cabin is a fenced area which further increases its footprint. The line of the SWCP as per the 1929 map referred to by the Council as the definitive line is further obstructed by parked vehicles. The new wooden finger post adjacent to Beach Road directs users around the edge of the car park behind a wooden fence. This is not only misleading but also incorrect. The rerouted SWCP is not the official path. No application has been made to amend the modification map.
At the time of the moving of the line of the SWCP, strong representations were made, verbally and in writing, to the various sections of the Council involved. Photographic evidence of the works taking place was also submitted. These were made by Gloria Price and also by the then County Councillor Richard Stewart. Copies of this evidence are held on file by Gloria Price. These exhortations were by and large ignored. A request to attend a site meeting as a member of the Open Space Society was also ignored.
There has been protracted correspondence with several Council officers over a long period of time. Finally an investigation by the Enforcement Officer for Cornwall Council confirmed (September 2010) that the line of the SWCP complies with the 1929 OS map.
The SWCP goes from the top of the Kissing Gate towards the golf course. It breaks through the fourth gap in the line of fencing near the red dog bin. It then continues in a line towards the left side or north west side of the guards' cabin. In my opinion, the guards' cabin and footprint fencing obstruct the SWCP. This is a completely different line to that sign-posted and fenced, which passes to the right or east side of the cabin. Vehicles in connection with the developer are also parked on this line.
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