An Inspector has rejected a claim to record three new footpaths, criss-crossing a large greenfield site promoted for housing development in Oxted, Surrey.
The land had formerly been used to keep a dairy herd but, since the 1980s, had been used for arable purposes only. Access to the land had been derived by gaps in fencing next to locked gates. The Inspector found that to be use by force and also, powerful evidence of a contrary intention on the part of the landowner to dedicate rights of way over the land.
Whilst the outcome for the landowner was positive, the decision is a cautionary tale for landowners to ensure they take adequate steps to prevent habitual public access to their land maturing into a legal right, which may seriously blight the development potential of the land.
Dr Ashley Bowes acted for the successful landowner, Oxted Residential Ltd, during the week-long public inquiry, instructed by Heidi Copland of DMH Stallard Solicitors.
A copy of the decision can be accessed here.