As part of our 10 year anniversary, we are looking back at some of our significant cases.
We are starting in West Sussex – a County where we have had great success and where we continue to pursue some important cases.
When new gate posts and electric gates were erected on the drive to 5 private houses in Denne Park, Horsham, a campaign was started to record the driveway as a public footpath. 135 local residents completed user evidence forms claiming to have walked the route, with some saying they had done so since 1920. Whilst accepting that some would have used the route, the landowners’ case was that there had been a sign at the entrance to the route, from at least 1959, stating that it was private with no public right of way.
Many of the users denied that there had been such a sign or that they had ever been challenged when using the route. It was therefore important in preparing the case to find the evidence to prove the existence of the sign, and to tackle the issue carefully in cross examining the 24 witnesses called to support the case.
A number of sources for photographic evidence were sought from archive pictures through to the personal photographs of the previous landowner. Although many did not show the wording on the sign, it was possible to see the fence to which it was attached in the background with the sign board visible from the rear. Great care was taken in ensuring that the landowners’ case was presented comprehensively to cover this.
After a three day public inquiry, the Inspector concluded that the landowners clearly demonstrated their intention not to dedicate the way to the public and that the claim should be dismissed.
The result allowed the landowners to secure the privacy and security of their properties. There was always a risk that with so many people claiming to have used the route that the claim might succeed, so the careful preparation and presentation of the evidence was crucial in leading to this outcome.
We are now working nearby on a Special Diversion Order for the benefit of a School – you will read more about that on our blog as the matter concludes.
If you are facing a claim for a public right of way on your land and need help in fighting it please get in touch – email Michael Wood – firstname.lastname@example.org or call Michael on 07796 958572. You can also complete the form below and check out what we do on www.etlandnet.co.uk
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