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Articles & Pages Related To "Correspondent"

Our local correspondents gather in the Lickey Hills

23 August 2018

Over two days in mid August, 29 local correspondents, trustees and members of staff met at the Hillscourt conference centre, Rednall, on the edge of the Lickey Hills country park south-west of Birmingham.  It was an opportunity to swap experiences and ideas and to learn more about the range of activities in which the society is engaged, and in which local correspondents can get involved. Topics for discussion included the following: Deregulation Act 2015 and how to prepare for it An update on restoring the record and applying for historic paths to be added to the definitive map before the 2026 cut off Opportunities for more public access after Brexit The HS2 project and its effect on public paths Access …read more

Our local correspondent takes action over fenced off Lewes Racecourse bridleway

1 November 2016

Chris Smith, our local correspondent for Brighton and Lewes, is taking action to claim the full width of a well-used and important bridleway on the South Downs near Lewes Racecourse buildings. Chris has reported that most of the bridleway past the racecourse buildings has been fenced off since June this year and comments: “The part of the bridleway affected is just north of the racecourse buildings on the route that runs between Mount Harry at one end and Lewes Town Centre or Lewes Prison at the other. It used to be very wide, up to 11 metres across, and walkers were able to keep straight ahead when going to and from the prison direction. In June 2016 the landowner erected …read more

From our correspondents

7 January 2016

Detecting walks in South Derbyshire

Local correspondents’ summit

11 October 2014

Our local correspondents, our eyes and ears on the ground, are meeting this weekend at Hillscourt conference centre, Rednal, at the foot of the Lickey Hills in Worcestershire. There are a number of sessions on enforcement on public paths, protecting their full width and ensuring that all structures are friendly to users; saving greens and other open spaces; protecting common land and access, and claiming unrecorded routes. It’s a great opportunity for our representatives to swap ideas and experience and debate knotty issues. On Saturday afternoon, the volunteers took a walk on the Lickey Hills. We are grateful to the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust for financial support for the weekend.


6 November 2018

Commons Re-registration Project Officer/s THIS ROLE IS NOW CLOSED TO APPLICATIONS. We are seeking one, or possibly, two candidates to pursue the society’s campaign to register new common land in England. Over the past 150 years, the society has preserved commons for the enjoyment of the public, and was a leader in registering commons under the Commons Registration Act 1965. Now we have the opportunity to register some commons which were not registered then. The candidate(s) will manage a project to revisit the registration of commons and greens in the 1960s, and secure extensive areas of still unimproved waste, and other valued commons and greens, which escaped registration. This will protect the land for recreation, wildlife and other public benefit. …read more

Strategic Plan 2019-2024

25 October 2018

The society has produced a draft of its next strategic plan, for the period 2019-2024. This follows a planning day of trustees and staff as well as consultations with volunteers and other members at the annual general meeting and our local correspondents at their recent get together. Your views would be most welcome. Please send any comments to by Monday 19 November. The trustees will consider all your comments and finalise the plan at their meeting in December.

We fight common-land swap at the Canyons

26 September 2018

We have objected to an application from Peakman Ltd to remove part of Mynydd Llanhilleth Common from the common-land register. This popular common is near Abertillery in south Wales. As part of its plan to extract aggregates from the nearby quarry, Peakman wants to widen the existing Blaen y Cwm road and create parking bays. Part of the road is common land and so it intends to deregister this stretch of common and in exchange provide as common land an area of boggy, rough, forestry land to the north. It has already put in an application for fencing of the common, to which the society and many local people have objected. The society is notified of all such applications and …read more

Vice-Presidents and Trustees

30 August 2018

The Open Spaces Society has its headquarters in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. It has some 2,000 members throughout England and Wales. It has a volunteer network, with members called ‘local correspondents’. Vice-presidents David (Lord) Clark, Len Clark, Mike Clarke, Paul Clayden, Roger de Freitas, Tony (Lord) Greaves, Richard Mabey, Edgar Powell and Ronald Smith. Trustees Chris Beney (Chairman) Chris has served OSS both as a trustee and as a local correspondent for many years. Trained as a Chartered Electrical Engineer, he was project manager for a small part of Concorde and later ran, with a colleague, a successful computer business for about ten years. He represented the OSS on the Rights of Way Review Committee’s working party which led to Defra’s …read more

Protests over unacceptable damage to Clapham Common

23 August 2018

The society is appealing to Lambeth Council not to allow another six-week long Winterville festival on Clapham Common in south London. We consider it shocking that Winterville is planned to take place again, when the Common has still not recovered from the damage caused by last year’s festival.  The so-called ‘events area’ on the common, on which Lambeth Council has allowed this and other major commercial events to take place, was closed off to the public for some five months from January onwards while attempts were made to restore the ground. Now, in August the ground is still mainly bare compacted earth with minimal grass cover. The council has been flooded with objections to the planning application for a repeat …read more

Council challenged over 50-year failure to comply with legislation

7 August 2018

A question was asked at the full meeting of Powys County Council last month by Peter Newman, our local correspondent for Powys, about the failure of the council to comply with the 1968 Countryside Act. This laid a duty on highway authorities to signpost all public paths where they leave a metalled road. Peter went on to say that only 69 signposts were erected in the last financial year, which equates to 23 each for of the old counties of Brecknock, Radnor and Montgomery, and he asked how many signposts are needed to complete the requirements under the Act, and the timescale. The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Countryside and Transport, Councillor Aled Davies, was not present but in a written …read more

Local to you

6 August 2018

The work of the Open Spaces Society depends heavily on its volunteers. In particular our team of Local Correspondents is the backbone of our efforts to preserve public paths, common land and greens. Please view the map above to see if there is a local correspondent in your area. If not, please direct your enquiry to our head office in Henley-on-Thames at 01491 573535 or email to Become a Local Correspondent As you know from our other website pages, you are welcome to join us without any obligation to be active in any manner, and your support is much appreciated. However the Open Spaces Society is busy on the ground through its local correspondents. To become a correspondent, members …read more

Buxton footpath in Norfolk open at last

26 July 2018

We are pleased that Norfolk County Council has belatedly replaced unlawful stiles with gates on Buxton with Lamas footpath 4, three miles south east of Aylsham. The stiles were in appalling condition and difficult to negotiate, and they had not been authorised on this public path (under section 147 of the Highways Act 1980)(1). The path, which follows the River Bure navigation to the east of Buxton, is about two and a half miles long. In 2015, our member Roy Wheeler reported seven unlawful stiles on this route to Norfolk County Council which, as highway authority, has a legal duty to keep public paths open and in good order. Roy was supported by our local correspondent Ian Witham. Two stiles …read more

Annexes to Guidelines

10 July 2018

Updated May 2018 Annex 1 Annex 2 Site visits and meetings Annex 3 Opposed orders: written representations, hearings and public inquiries Annex 3A Flowcharts Annex 4 Resolving path problems Annex 5 Making a complaint to the local government ombudsman Annex 6 Support for legal action Annex 6A Form LC1 Annex 6B Form 1, Highways Act 1980, Section 130A(1) Annex 7 Rights of way improvement plans Annex 8 Reports to the trustees Annex 9 Landowner notices Authorisation letter – sample Please contact the office if you require a letter of authorisation for your local correspondent area/s.

Campaign to reopen ancient Gloucestershire route

12 June 2018

We are pressing Gloucestershire County Council to reopen the ancient Bentley Lane, which runs to the east of Southam village onto Cleeve Common. The lane has been blocked by gates since 2010. The old track is laid out in the Bishops Cleeve Inclosure Award of 1836 with a width of 30 feet. It leads directly up to a part of Cleeve Common which was the original Cheltenham Racecourse in about 1830. The lane was shown on the official record of public rights of way (the definitive map) as Public Bridle Road ASM25 and was used freely by the public until 2009 when it was peremptorily redirected into the adjacent field on the grounds that there was an error on the …read more

Industrialisation of The Canyons, Torfaen

5 April 2018

We have objected to an application from Peakman Ltd to develop Mynydd Llanhilleth Common, near Abertillery in Torfaen, south Wales. Peakman wants to build a new haul road, widen the existing Cefn Crib road and erect fencing on the common to enable it to extract aggregates from the nearby quarry.  Because the works affect common land, it must obtain the consent of Welsh Ministers for works on common land, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. Walkers and horse-riders have rights of access over the common and the society considers that their enjoyment will be reduced, and that the development will adversely affect the landscape.  Moreover, if the road is widened, it will encourage faster driving, putting walkers and …read more

AGM 2017

26 March 2018

Our AGM was held on 6 July 2017 at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ. AGM Agenda 2017 After the formal business, we will have two speakers: Campaign for paths and greens in Oxfordshire Becky Waller, Friends of Dorchester and Little Wittenham Open Spaces, will speak on the group’s campaign to register greens and record public paths, and to protect a scheduled ancient monument on land which has been fenced. The society’s collection of magic-lantern slides Graham Bathe, OSS chairman, will speak about our unique collection which he has catalogued. The draft minutes of our AGM 2016 are available here. Trustee nominations The following are standing for election as trustees: Hilary Hunt An obstructed footpath was the first …read more

Protests over abuse of Clapham Common

27 February 2018

Our local correspondent Jeremy Clyne has written to Lambeth Council to protest against the exploitation of open space in the borough, and the damage caused. The situation has become so critical that local people are saying the flagship Clapham Common might be better renamed ‘Clapham Commercial’. A large swathe of the common is still fenced off weeks after the end of a major winter event because of serious damage to the ground. Now the council is applying to itself for blanket planning permission to hold more than 100 days of events this year. It has been flooded with objections to the proposal. Residents complain that these so-called temporary events, many causing significant noisy disturbance to residents, are becoming a permanent …read more

Getting Decent Widths in Path Diversion Orders

1 February 2018

This fact sheet is brought to you by the Open Spaces Society – We campaign for stronger protection for common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths in England and Wales, and for greater opportunities for everyone to enjoy them. As a small charity, memberships are vital to our ability to continue to support more than 600 cases annually helping individuals, groups and communities to save their local green spaces and paths. Individual membership costs £3/month. Join us today. Getting Decent Widths in Path Diversion Orders – by Chris Beney Some slightly random thoughts on the matter to encourage action.   A failure A success – but how wide is it? Defra has guidance at: The Planning Inspectorate …read more

We welcome greenspace plan for Kendal’s New Road common

25 August 2017

STOP PRESS 31 AUGUST 2017: We are pleased to report that on 30 August the South Lakeland District Council’s cabinet unanimously approved the scheme for the restoration of New Road Common. We are delighted that South Lakeland District Council in Cumbria proposes to reinstate Kendal’s New Road common as a green space.  For many years this has been used unlawfully as a public car-park.  The public has the right to walk and ride over the whole area under section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925. On Wednesday (30 August) the council’s cabinet will consider a recommendation from the chief executive that the common land to the south of New Road be made into public greenspace and that alternative solutions …read more

Comment on revised standard for gaps, gates and stiles

21 August 2017

The revision of British Standard BS 5709, Gaps, Gates & Stiles, has now been issued for public comment and will be open for comments until Tuesday 19 September. The draft can be found on the online standards development portal here. You will need to log in to post comments so, if you are not already registered on the site, please do so here. Chris Beney, our local correspondent who is on the Working Party for BS5709, has advised that they would welcome comments before the 19 September deadline if possible.

Bedford Council forced to back down on path changes

8 August 2017

Our Bedford local correspondent, Brian Cowling, has forced Bedford Borough Council to withdraw its proposals to move the routes of 13 public footpaths, in the parishes of Ravensden, Thurleigh and Wilstead, because of errors in the formal orders.  Brian objected to the proposals because he considered that they would be damaging for public enjoyment, and because the proposals were fundamentally flawed. On 4 August Bedford Borough Council withdrew the orders, some of which had been sitting on the table for four years. For the 12 proposals at Ravensden and Thurleigh, the council had used a map to the scale of 1:5,000 instead of the required 1:2,500, so the orders would have been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in any case.  …read more


19 July 2017

Is there an open space near you which is loved and used by you and your community? It could be a traditional village green, a meadow or a scruffy, neglected patch behind the housing estate where you pick blackberries. Open spaces are to be found in urban and rural areas and they provide an important amenity. We play, cycle and run on them. They are where we walk our dogs, enjoy a picnic or sit and enjoy the view. We use them in all kinds of ways that make a big difference to our lives. But the law has put your local spaces at risk. The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 decreed that, throughout England, landowners can challenge your use …read more

Rights of Way

“What an impressive website, as is the work you do to ensure that rights of ways on public footpaths are kept….” a member shows their appreciation of the society’s work A right of way is a path that anyone has the legal right to use on foot, and sometimes using other modes of transport. Public footpaths are normally open only to walkers Public bridleways are open to walkers, horse-riders and pedal cyclists Restricted byways are open to walkers, horse-riders, and drivers/riders of non-mechanically propelled vehicles (such as horse-drawn carriages and pedal cycles) Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) are open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, though they may not be maintained to the same standard as ordinary …read more

London Council in ‘unprecedented’ move to exploit open space

10 July 2017

A London Council has made an ‘unprecedented’ move to make money out of holding events on a flagship open space. Lambeth Council’s planning committee on Tuesday evening (4 July) gave blanket approval to a 110-day schedule of music festivals and other events on the 35-hectare half of Clapham Common it owns. The Town and Country Planning Act allows temporary use of land for not more than 28 days without planning permission. Our general secretary Kate Ashbrook has described Lambeth’s action as ‘driving a coach and horses’ through legislation designed to protect open spaces. The Council had received numerous objections to intensified use of Clapham Common for events, which have caused serious damage to the ground and close off huge parts …read more

Lambeth Council’s plan threatens Clapham Common

29 June 2017

Lambeth Council is proposing to give itself unprecedented powers to intensify and institutionalise the commercial exploitation of a flagship open space. By giving blanket approval for music festivals and other events to be held on the 35-hectare half of Clapham Common it owns, Lambeth Council will be driving a coach and horses through legislation, designed to protect commons, which limits the number of days events can be held. The Council says that in making this application it is a ‘forerunner’.  Lambeth’s example is likely to be copied by other local authorities trying to fill holes in their budgets. The Town and Country Planning Act allows the temporary use of land for up to 28 days in total in any calendar …read more

News from Wales

21 March 2017

Future Generations Commissioner for Wales launches survey on strategic plan and policy priorities The office of the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, has launched a new website and broad conversation/consultation on their Draft Strategic Plan and policy priorities. They are running a survey which will collate broad patterns of priorities raised by organisations, individuals and companies. It is anticipated that this survey will either close on 7th April or the first set of its data will be compiled into a report at that time. It is also expected that workshops will be held over the coming weeks. 3 September 2013 Development approved on Llanberis common We are dismayed that Gwynedd Council’s planning committee has yesterday (2 September) …read more


16 March 2017

Prioritisation The Open Spaces Society is a small organisation and we must use our limited resources to best effect in achieving our charitable objectives. We must therefore prioritise the cases in which we become involved. In considering whether and how to give support and assistance, we shall have regard to, inter alia: • Public benefit (cf private gain) • Whether a case furthers our aims and objectives • Whether a case establishes a precedent with wider implications • Resource implications • Likelihood of success • Whether the correspondent is a qualifying member • Reputational implications • Whether the case could or should be handled elsewhere These will enable us to prioritise our casework including: • a decision on whether we …read more

Vineyard development rejected in Kent beauty-spot

15 February 2017

Gravesham Borough Council has refused a planning application from Mr Gurmeet Bassi for development in connection with his vineyard at Meopham in Kent.  This is in a prominent position in an area of natural beauty, close to popular public footpaths. The application included a new barn for storage, workshop, office and meeting room, hardstanding for parking and turning and a new access track. The council rejected the application because it would be conspicuous and prominent within the green belt and would ‘appear as an industrialised monolithic building’, among other reasons. Says David Thornewell, our local correspondent: ‘We welcome the borough council’s decision to refuse the application.  The development, with the changes to the public footpaths previously proposed, would have altered …read more

Our new representatives in Cornwall

30 January 2017

We have appointed two new representatives in Cornwall: Jacqueline Merrick for Kerrier and Lucy Wilson for North Cornwall. As local correspondents, Jacqueline and Lucy will be the society’s eyes and ears, keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces in their areas and intervening as necessary. Among other activities, they will object to proposed changes to public paths where they are against the public interest, they will put in reports to the council about blocked paths, and they will help to research unrecorded historic routes which should be shown on Cornwall’s definitive map. Jacqueline is a mother, grandmother, semi-retired organic farmer, educational conservation field ecologist, wildlife guide, environmental campaigner, keen cyclist, rider and dog walker. She grew …read more

We celebrate good news for riders and cyclists at North Lopham, Norfolk

16 January 2017

We are delighted that a restricted byway has been newly recorded at North Lopham in south-west Norfolk. Norfolk County Council made a definitive map modification order, following an application made by our local correspondent Ian Witham on behalf of the society, in 2015. The order was confirmed by the council, unopposed, on 1 December 2016. The route, to the east of the village, is a quiet, enclosed track, some 245 metres long (with a width varying between seven and eleven metres), known locally as Jubilee Lane, and runs between quiet roads known as Tann’s Lane and Primrose Lane. The route had been recorded on the definitive map as a footpath, but Ian’s claim was based upon historical evidence showing that …read more

Who We Are

The Open Spaces Society is Britain’s oldest national conservation body, founded in 1865. We campaign for stronger protection and opportunities for everyone to enjoy commons, greens and paths. We defend open spaces against loss and pressures from development. We assist local communities so that they can safeguard their green spaces for future generations to enjoy.   About us Casework Prioritisation Vice-Presidents and Trustees Staff Local to you Local Correspondents Trustees

Saving open spaces and footpaths at Dorchester-on-Thames

4 January 2017

Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, and local correspondent for Oxfordshire, Chris Hall, will be speaking at a public meeting in Dorchester Village Hall on Tuesday 10th January as part of a local initiative to preserve footpaths and open access to the Dyke Hills and Days Lock area near Dorchester-on-Thames. Local resident, and OSS member Becky Waller, will also make a brief presentation. The meeting has been called in response to public notices posted by Oxfordshire County Council. Members of the public are invited to attend and share their own history and memories of the area, and help formulate a response to Oxfordshire County Council. If you are interested in helping to preserve footpaths and open spaces around Dorchester-on-Thames, please come …read more

Our new activist for Cheshire East

20 December 2016

We have appointed Mr Chris Meewezen as our local correspondent for Cheshire East. Chris will be the society’s eyes and ears, keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces in the area and intervening as necessary. Chris, who lives at Wheelock near Sandbach, has until recently been footpath secretary for the Ramblers’ Congleton Group. He has initiated a project in the county to research historic ways and apply for them to be added to the official (definitive) map so that they are safe from destruction. Says Chris: ‘I am very pleased to be appointed as local correspondent for the Open Spaces Society. The open spaces and public paths in Cheshire East are at severe risk from development …read more

We win new green space and footpath for Witney, Oxfordshire

17 November 2016

We have won a new town green and public footpath for the town of Witney in Oxfordshire. These are on land which is being developed by Richmond Care Villages (RCV) between Thorney Leys and Curbridge Road. RCV went ahead with their development, illegally obstructing Witney footpath 40 which they belatedly applied to move.  The path is important because it is a traffic-free direct route to and from open countryside south of Witney. Our local correspondent, Chris Hall, objected to the revised route of the path because it was longer and less pleasant for users; it passes through a housing estate instead of over a green field.  The objection would normally have gone to a public inquiry and delayed the development …read more

Norfolk outdoor activists slam county council’s failure to maintain public paths

9 November 2016

Outdoor activists in Norfolk are angry that Norfolk County Council trumpets that it is third out of 28 councils for ‘satisfaction with its highways and transport services’, while ignoring the fact that for the last three years Norfolk has been in the bottom three or four for ‘satisfaction with public rights of way’ and this year is 25th out of 28.. Public paths are highways in law just like any road. The survey is the annual National Highways and Transport Network Survey, by Ipsos MORI. The Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society are putting a question to the county council’s Environment, Development and Transport Committee (EDT) on Friday 11 November to ask: ‘A recent NCC Press Release announces “Podium position …read more

We oppose public-path changes in Meopham, Kent

8 November 2016

We have objected to plans from a landowner to move public footpaths onto inferior routes, to accommodate a vineyard, at Meopham in Kent.  We are backing our member the Meopham and District Footpaths Group in fighting the proposals. The landowner, Mr G Bassi, says that he bought the land with the intention of expanding his viticulture business.  However the fields are crossed by popular public paths.  He now wants to move these from across the fields to the field edges. Says our local correspondent, David Thornewell: ‘These paths are immensely popular with local people and visitors because they provide direct links with the village of Meopham through beautiful countryside. ‘At present these paths follow purposeful routes across the countryside.  The …read more

We help defeat land swap for Limpenhoe village green, Norfolk

28 October 2016

We have helped prevent the swap of part of Limpenhoe village green, ten miles south-east of Norwich in Norfolk.  The green is in the Broads National Park. Cantley Parish Council proposed to remove 4,970 square metres of Limpenhoe village green from the register and offer in exchange only 1,500 square metres closer to the village centre.  It needed to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, via the Planning Inspectorate, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.   We objected to the proposal since the land to be given in exchange was much smaller than the land to be deregistered.  Moreover the replacement land had limited access to it.  There were also …read more

Mary Traynor takes on South Lakeland, Cumbria

19 October 2016

Mary Traynor is our new local correspondent for South Lakeland District in Cumbria.  She lives at High Tenterfell near Kendal.  Her interest in the Open Spaces Society was sparked by her concern for the local town green, Kendal Fell, which is of natural history and archaeological interest, and is used as a golf course.  There are occasional conflicts and Mary is keen to promote the idea of shared space, tolerance and responsibility there. Mary is employed at Lancaster University as executive editor of the Journal of Experimental Botany.  She loves walking. Says Mary: ‘I am very pleased to be appointed as local correspondent for the society.  We have some beautiful countryside in south Cumbria with wonderful access opportunities and I …read more

Reopening of blocked footpath at Little Hautbois, Norfolk

12 October 2016

The blocked Buxton with Lammas footpath 1 has been reopened.  The path, which runs past the Tudor mansion Hautbois Hall, had been blocked to a narrow width with fences and gates.  We lobbied Norfolk County Council to reopen it and now this has been done.                       In 2010 the society complained that the path was blocked and Norfolk County Council took enforcement action to ensure it was reopened.  Six years later it was blocked again and the county council once more threatened legal action to secure its reopening. Says Ian Witham, our local correspondent who had pressed the county to act: ‘It is astonishing that the owners of Hautbois Hall …read more

We slate Network Rail’s blocked paths in Ely

26 September 2016

We have complained to Cambridgeshire County Council about the unlawful closure of public paths by Network Rail. Our local correspondent, Alysoun Hodges, was dismayed to discover that Network Rail has closed footpaths in Ely where they cross the railway line. While Network Rail is carrying out a consultation on the closure of path crossings over railways lines in East Anglia, the public inquiry is not due to be held for another year and no decisions have been made. These paths are still highways in law. Alysoun has written to Cambridgeshire County Council, the highway authority, to complain that Ely footpaths 17 and 57, which cross the railway on either side of the River Lark to the east of Ely, have …read more

We fight development on Norfolk common

8 September 2016

We have objected to a planning application by the Woodlands Caravan Park to extend the caravan park on registered common land at Upper Sheringham in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Woodlands Caravan Park has used the common for this purpose for many years without obtaining the required consent from the Secretary of State for Environment, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006 and previous legislation. Now it seeks permission for nine static-caravan pitches and seasonal siting of 30 touring caravans which are currently limited to 28 days in the year. The society has objected because the existing caravans and buildings, and the proposed additional ones, require ministerial consent in addition to planning permission. It has asked …read more

Cotswold path saved from closure

We have saved a 250-metre public footpath at Oddington from closure. Oddington is two miles east of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. The owner of Brans Cottage which adjoins the path applied to the highway authority, Gloucestershire County Council, to close the path. We were the sole objector. The extinguishment order was referred to the Planning Inspectorate for determination on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (The decision letter is here.) The landowner and the council claimed that access to the path at one end was on a busy road, the A436, and at the other it crossed a garden and patio close to the kitchen windows of Brans Cottage, and as a result the path …read more

Speak up for open spaces and parks in Brighton

30 August 2016

Our local correspondent, Chris Smith, is urging Brighton residents to speak up for open spaces and parks such as Stanmer Park and the surrounding downland. Brighton Council wants to make cuts to the amount it spends on parks and open spaces. It is holding a consultation about this because it is legally obliged to. You can find the consultation here. The consultation affects not just parks but also open spaces, including the downland around Brighton and areas like Stanmer Park. Please take part. Although these things are often just a means of justifying a decision that has already been made, strong opposition has been known to turn things around. Many of the questions simply ask you where cuts can be …read more

Honorary life membership for Edgar and Audrey Powell

15 August 2016

On reaching his eightieth birthday, Edgar Powell decided to stand down as our local correspondent in Worcestershire. He had fulfilled this role for 23 years, with dedication, determination and innovation, and with unstinting support from his wife Audrey. In recognition of their immense contribution to the society’s work and reputation, the trustees have awarded Edgar and Audrey honorary life membership of the society. Edgar continues in his role as vice-president of the society and we are grateful that he remains willing to give us help and advice on occasion. You can read more about Edgar here.

Threat to public paths in the Rochdale area

11 August 2016

Our newly-appointed local correspondent for Rochdale, Yvonne Hunt, looks at the threat to public paths in her area, including the Rochdale Way.   The Rochdale Way and parts of its connecting network of paths are under threat by developers who do not seem to understand their importance. The Rochdale Way is a circular 45-mile (72-km) walking route around the borough of Rochdale which takes in some of its best scenery and most interesting buildings. The area covered includes Hollingworth Lake, Blackstone Edge on the Pennine Way, Watergrove Reservoir, Healey Dell, Knowl Hill, Naden Valley and much more. The way is broken down into sections as the majority of people would prefer not to walk the whole 45 miles in one …read more

Dismay at development on Clapham Common

8 August 2016

We are dismayed that the Secretary of State for Environment has given consent for a refurbished sports zone on Clapham Common. The applicant was Lambeth Council and the works comprise resurfaced courts, three-metre high fencing, floodlight columns and bicycle racks, benches and litterbins. Says Jeremy Clyne, our local correspondent for the London Borough of Lambeth: ‘While the Open Spaces Society acknowledges the need for sports facilities, we are alarmed that permission has been granted for this scheme. ‘The casework officer, Mr Richard Holland, recognises that the floodlighting and fencing “will cause some harm to the appearance of the common” and that the floodlighting is an “alien feature which will intrude to some extent into the night-time landscape”. Further he admits …read more

Our new activist for St Edmundsbury, Suffolk

Simon Bunn is our new local correspondent for St Edmundsbury Borough in Suffolk. Simon will be our eyes and ears, keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces in the district and intervening as necessary. Simon, who lives at Haverhill, works for Cambridge City Council as a Sustainable Drainage Engineer, and has been involved in flood-risk management for the past 20 years. He was part of the team that developed the award-winning Cambridge SuDS (sustainable drainage-systems) Design and Adoption Guide. He is a keen walker and a member of the Ramblers and the Stour Walking Group. He is also a proficient photographer. Says Simon: ‘I am very pleased to be appointed as local correspondent for the society. …read more

Amended guidance on obstructed rights of way in Wales

3 August 2016

Our trustee and local correspondent, Peter Newman, has reported on his work to open up illegally obstructed rights of way in Powys: “There are many areas in Powys where the rights of way network in largely inaccessible because of large scale obstruction by illegal wire and barbed wire fences. Powys County Council is largely ineffective at opening up the bridleway and footpath network as it will only work in one parish in an area at a time, ignoring all the other communities. As a last resort, and in order to try and open up some routes for walkers and riders, I have been serving Section 130A notices on the council which is having some effect. The Welsh Assembly Government provided …read more

Herefordshire path-defender wins Open Spaces Society’s national award

11 July 2016

Peter Newman, formerly of Kington, Herefordshire, is the first-ever winner of our prestigious Eversley Award for Outstanding Personal Endeavour. Peter won the award for his 25 years of work on public paths with offenders on Community Payback. Peter collaborated with the Herefordshire Probation Service and Herefordshire Council to install about 800 stiles and gates, waymarks and fingerposts, and many notice-boards and footbridges, in 16 parishes in north-west Herefordshire. The routes which they improved included parts of Offa’s Dyke National Trail and the Mortimer Trail. The project ended with Peter’s recent move to Powys. Peter earned plaudits from Herefordshire Council and the probation service. Peter has also served as the Open Spaces Society’s local correspondent in Herefordshire for 32 years. The …read more

Dereham, Norfolk, becomes a Walkers Are Welcome town.

23 June 2016

We have congratulated the people of Dereham in Norfolk on achieving the status of a Walkers Are Welcome town. Dereham has joined the family of over 100 towns in England, Scotland and Wales which give an overt welcome to walkers and display the Walkers Are Welcome logo, showing that businesses are pleased to see walkers and recognise that they benefit the local economy, and that the paths are well cared for and there is public transport. The effort was led by our member Dereham Town Council through its footpath warden Ken Hawkins who has worked tirelessly to ensure that the public paths around the town are in good order. One of the criteria for Walkers Are Welcome status is that …read more

Better access to Ford Common, Dorset

25 May 2016

We have helped to achieve an excellent outcome from SITA UK’s plans to extend its Binnegar Quarry, close to Puddletown Road three miles west of Wareham in Dorset. Because the development would affect Ford Common, owned by SITA, the company had to offer land in exchange for the common land it wished to quarry. SITA applied in September 2014 to deregister 197,000 square metres of the common, and offered in exchange 229,000 metres of land to the north of the A352 and to the east and west of Binnegar Lane (a mile east of Stokeford). This includes a small, new public car-park off Binnegar Lane. We were involved at an early stage and have worked hard throughout to get the …read more

A generous bequest from Leslie Menzler

26 February 2016

Our former local correspondent for Warwickshire, Leslie Menzler,  died in 2014 aged 93 with no surviving family.  He has left us a generous legacy. John Hall, our Coventry local correspondent writes of Leslie: Little is known about his early life but old family photos show Les living in Surrey with siblings and servants.  His father, F A A Menzler CBE was an actuary who became Chief Development and Research Officer of the London Transport Executive. As an adult, Les worked for many years for British Thomson Houston and GEC in Witton, Birmingham.  Google reveals that he has two patents to his name in the field of electrical engineering. After his retirement GEC recalled him as a research consultant—a man of …read more

Thwaite common fencing plan rejected

17 February 2016

We are delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has rejected an application for fencing of Thwaite Common, near Erpingham, six miles south of Cromer. A year ago the Thwaite Common Management Committee, supported by North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk Wildlife Trust, applied to erect temporary fencing on three parts of the common, to enable the land to be grazed for long periods during the year. This was to improve the biodiversity of the common. The total length of fencing was to be 3,520 metres, more than two miles. Some of the fencing was already in place even though it did not have consent. We objected because the fencing made the open common into paddocks and it would restrict people’s right …read more

Multi-million pound Firle Footpath ploughed up for the third time

16 February 2016

For the third time, the Firle Estate has ploughed up a path that it gets a huge subsidy to keep open, despite promises to the Open Spaces Society given three months ago that it would be opened. The path, which runs south from the Barley Mow Pub at Selmeston, is one of the reasons that the Firle Estate gets millions of pounds worth of Inheritance Tax relief. Until the Open Spaces Society publicised the situation, there was almost no way of telling where these lucrative paths were. After pressure, the Firle Estate waymarked the paths but then ploughed one of them up. We exposed this and the path was reinstated. Now the path has been ploughed up again and is …read more

Kington’s pioneer path-scheme comes to an end

5 February 2016

After 25 years the pioneering Kington Footpath Scheme in Herefordshire has come to an end.  The scheme was invented and run by Peter Newman, our trustee and north-west Herefordshire local correspondent, with Herefordshire Council and the Hereford Probation Service. Offenders on Community Payback worked with Peter and the council to install about 800 stiles and gates, a similar number of waymarks and fingerposts, and many notice-boards and footbridges.  They have maintained countless footpaths, bridleways and byways in 16 parishes in north-west Herefordshire including parts of Offa’s Dyke National Trail and the Mortimer Trail. The scheme had its final day on Sunday 31 January when the workers erected a notice-board at Bollingham, three miles south of Kington, to hold a map …read more

Plan to sacrifice Lyde Green common withdrawn

27 January 2016

We are delighted that NORFT Ltd has withdrawn its controversial plan to sacrifice Lyde Green Common near Pucklechurch, north-east of Bristol, and replace it with inferior land some distance away. NORFT, the owner of the common, had applied to the Planning Inspectorate to deregister and exchange Lyde Green. The Open Spaces Society, Emersons Green Town Council and others objected. They considered that the proposed replacement land was of inferior quality to the common to be taken. Says Chris Bloor, our local correspondent for South Gloucestershire: ‘We congratulate NORFT Ltd for withdrawing its application. The common will become a major resource for those who will occupy the new housing surrounding it. ‘We believe that the unpleasant fencing at the west end …read more

AGM 2013

7 January 2016

Our AGM was held on Tuesday 16 July at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Birmingham. Signed minutes of the meeting are posted here. During the afternoon, we were delighted to present awards to the following winners in our Open Space Award 2013. View photographs of both these projects here. Overall winner Grange Area Trust for its project at Widmer Fields, Buckinghamshire Special award for community engagement Cobham Conservation & Heritage Trust in association with Elmbridge Borough Council for their Riverhill regeneration project AGM presentations Members of the society also addressed the meeting during the afternoon session. The Equality Act and BS 5709 Shortage of time at the AGM prevented this being given as a presentation, and just a few words were …read more

Safe crossings for Poole pedestrians

6 January 2016

We have helped secure four crossings over the busy Shore Road at Poole, to enable walkers to get safely from the beachfront to the harbourside, using a popular footpath. These were achieved by our local correspondents Harry and Aimee Alexander who pursued the campaign for ten years. Says Harry: ‘After more than a decade of representation to Poole Council we are delighted with the addition of a crossing over Shore Road at Poole, linking Allington footpath 85 with the Harbour Promenade to Sandbanks. We are also pleased to have won three other safe passages across this busy highway.’


15 December 2015

The work of the Open Spaces Society relies on work carried out by our volunteer members, and particularly our local correspondents. There are many useful things that volunteers can achieve just by being our eyes and ears in the local area. If you are a member of the society and are interested in helping us in a practical way, please look at the general Volunteer job description or email us for more information. For further information on becoming a local correspondent, please visit our recruitment page.

Dismay at Derbyshire’s cuts to the rights-of-way service

11 November 2015

We are disappointed that Derbyshire County Council is likely to go ahead with its proposed cuts to the rights-of-way budget, following a controversial consultation in the summer. These cuts could result in the loss of up to three staff and the extension of target times for resolving path complaints, so that it could take up to six months to deal with a problem. Our local correspondent for South Derbyshire, Barry Thomas, says: ‘A reporter on Radio Derby last week stated that Derbyshire County Council has not yet shared the results of the consultation with the full council, and decisions have not been made about the rights-of-way budget. Yet at the same time we had an email stating that the usual …read more

Multi million pound Firle footpath ploughed up again

10 November 2015

Yet again, the Firle Estate has ploughed up a path for which it gets a huge subsidy to keep open. The path, which runs south from the Barley Mow Pub at Selmeston, is one of the reasons that the Firle estate gets millions of pounds worth of Inheritance Tax relief.   Until the Open Spaces Society publicised the situation, there was almost no way of telling where these lucrative paths were. After pressure, the Firle Estate waymarked the paths, but then ploughed one of them up. We exposed this and the path was reinstated. Now the path has been ploughed up again and is more or less impassible as you can see from the picture. How did this come about? …read more

We applaud new public path in North Norfolk

4 November 2015

A landowner, Wayware Ltd of Southrepps Hall, has dedicated a public byway in the parishes of Sustead and Aldborough and Thurgarton in North Norfolk. The 1,055-metre route leaves Sustead Lane at about 300 yards west of St Peter and St Pauls’ church, Sustead, running in a west-south-westerly direction.  It connects Sustead Lane and Bessingham Road and will enable walkers, riders, cyclists and carriage drivers to take a pleasant shortcut away from traffic. Our local correspondent for Norfolk, Ian Witham, had been researching evidence for the inclusion of this route as a public highway on Norfolk County Council’s official map of public rights of way.  It is vital to record ancient paths before 1 January 2026, the day when many unrecorded …read more

We fight threat to Neatherd Moor common, Dereham, Norfolk

20 October 2015

We have objected strongly to a planning application from Taylor Wimpey for 62 houses and associated works on land next to Neatherd Moor, an ancient common on the east side of Dereham in Norfolk. Our local correspondent, Ian Witham, has protested to Breckland Council. Says Ian: ‘We object strongly to this proposal because of the tremendous impact it would have on Neatherd Moor.  This area, which includes publicly-accessible common land, as well as public paths nearby such as the historic Shilling Lane, is a vital component of the history and identity of East Dereham.  It is hugely important to the amenities of residents and visitors alike. ‘We are dismayed that the developers do not even mention that the site adjoins …read more

We fight loss of Lyde Green common on Bristol’s fringe

8 October 2015

We have objected to plans from NORFT Ltd to sacrifice Lyde Green Common near Pucklechurch, north-east of Bristol, and replace it with inferior land some distance away. NORFT has applied to the Planning Inspectorate to deregister and exchange Lyde Green. We have objected because the proposed replacement land is of inferior quality to the common to be taken. Says Chris Bloor, our South Gloucestershire local correspondent: ‘We are dismayed that NORFT Ltd, owner of the 20-acre Lyde Green common, proposes to deregister it. The grounds are that, allegedly, there is a health and safety risk to the commoners’ stock in view of the new development nearby, but that does not sound to us a good ground for deregistering common land. …read more

Derek Smith

A former activist in south Wales and a good friend of the society, Derek Smith, has died aged 88. Derek and his late wife Nina (our local correspondents for the Vale of Glamorgan from 1999 to 2002) were an indomitable pair of path and amenity defenders over many years. Together they saved a pretty footpath at Wenvoe from closure by claiming it as a right of way, a battle which lasted five years. Derek was also a pillar of the Ramblers’ Welsh Council executive committee and of South Wales Area. Derek worked tirelessly for our cause and had a great sense of fun, always ready to laugh at himself too. He spent his last years in Dorchester to be near …read more

A clever solution

28 September 2015

Our local correspondent for Leeds, Jerry Pearlman, has told us of an ingenious solution by Leeds City Council to prevent paths being lost in rivers such as the Wharfe. The council had a fund of about £100,000 to be used to reinstate paths which had fallen, or were in danger of falling, into watercourses. Parts of the path alongside the Wharfe in the parishes of Harewood, Kearby with Netherby and East Keswick have fallen into the river or are in danger of doing so. With the cooperation of the landowners, the council has made a number of small diversions to put the path on dry land. They call the diversion order a ‘Water Safety Order’

Help test new self-closing bridle gates

10 September 2015

In 2011 The British Horse Society conducted a trial of commercially available self-closing bridle gates. The trial recorded a number of issues which meant that there was an impact on safety and ease of use by horse riders. This confirmed anecdotes that horses and riders were suffering injury; and many were being put off accessing the countryside due to fear of injury. Since then Natural England has been working in partnership with the British Horse Society and a gate manufacturer, Centrewire, to develop modifications and improvements to gates. A new trial has now being organised to look at these modifications and compare them to existing designs. The aim of the trial is to identify features which contribute to safe and …read more

Protest over Clapham Common quagmire

8 September 2015

Clapham Common has again been left resembling a sea of mud following the latest huge music event. We are writing to Lambeth Council to protest. A vast swathe of the common has again been devastated, only a year after the same area of the common was left like a quagmire by the same Lock N Load South West Four festival. The council, which owns and manages the common, is already subject to severe criticism because it allowed enormous structures to be built on the common, which the society says require special permission from the Secretary of State for the Environment. Lambeth is also being challenged over the size of areas of the common being enclosed for such major events. An …read more

Stepping stones across the River Thame

1 September 2015

Our local correspondent Chris Hall writes of the society’s efforts to record a route across the River Thame in Oxfordshire as a public footpath. Three miles east of industrial Cowley, deep and peacefully remote in the meadows of the Oxford green belt, is a legal battleground at grid reference SP 601 005. As recently as 2006 the spot was labelled by the words ‘stepping stones’ on the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey (OS) maps because here people used to cross the little River Thame. In 2002 society member Hugh Crawley claimed a right of way across the river for the definitive map. Ten years later Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) rejected his claim. Hugh, a determined warrior (he landed in Normandy on D-Day …read more

We slate Derbyshire’s plan to ‘shoot itself in the foot’

19 August 2015

We have slated Derbyshire County Council’s plans to cut its budget for public rights of way and reduce the staff, significantly lengthening the time it takes to deal with path problems.  We say the council is shooting itself in the foot. We have responded to the council’s questionnaire in which the council proposes severely to slacken its performance on its legal duties. Says Barry Thomas, our local correspondent for South Derbyshire District: ‘Over the past ten years there has been a steady improvement in the rights of way in Derbyshire that must not be allowed to slip away.  If we are not able to call on a properly-staffed and resourced rights-of-way team, we shall all find it harder to raise …read more

Land at Breaky Bottom open to the public

30 June 2015

After a long battle by Action for Access and the Open Spaces Society, walkers can now use some of the Access Land (1) at Breaky Bottom, near Lewes. A new stile has been erected. The grid reference is TQ404054 (2). Our local correspondent Chris Smith says “The new access land is a great place to take a break and enjoy the view while walking (3) from Northease to Saltdean.” The public access area is shown in yellow/brown on the map below. But the area shown in red is still closed to the public. This is because there is a small pit on the site. The South Downs National Park says that this is dangerous, even though there are many cliffs …read more

Tweet of the day about major events in our 150-year history

10 June 2015

Throughout 2015 we shall issue a ‘tweet of the day’, with hashtag #saveopenspaces150, highlighting an event in our history, and will reproduce the tweets here with a little more information where relevant. Watch the list grow daily to build up a picture of what we have done in our 150-year history. January – click here to open/close Day 1: OSS founded on 19 July 1865, at George Shaw-Lefevre’s offices in the Inner Temple. The catalyst was the threat to London’s commons. Day 2: On the night of 6 March 1866 OSS organises a trainload of navvies to march to Berkhamsted Common and pull down the fences, erected illegally by Lord Brownlow’s estate. They were never put back and the common …read more

Major victory for green spaces of Wales

21 May 2015

The Welsh Government has decided not to ape England’s village-greens law. In December 2013 we learnt that the Welsh Government was proposing, in its Planning (Wales) Bill, to copy the provisions of England’s egregious Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 for greens.  In other words, it proposed that applications for greens should be outlawed when land had been identified for planning, even though that process was often secret and people could not have known their much-loved green spaces were threatened.  We said that these proposals struck at the heart of local communities, preventing them from securing the land they have long enjoyed. We swung into action, urging our members in Wales to tell us of greens which would not have been registered under the new law and …read more

Land at Breaky Bottom open to the public after OSS action

13 May 2015

Action by the society’s Local Correspondent, Chris Smith, has resulted in more land at Breaky Bottom Vineyard, Sussex being opened to the public. The society objected to an order which would have continued the restriction. As a result part of the land has been made available for public access. The public access area is shown in yellow/brown on the map below. But the area shown in red is still closed to the public. This is because there is a small pit on the site. The South Downs National Park says that this is dangerous, even though there are many cliffs and pits in the area where there is public access. They say that they will reinstate access if the landowner …read more

Now you can walk the secret multi-million pound footpaths of Firle

25 March 2015

But you will need your wellies on! Open Spaces Society member Chris Smith has created a walk highlighting the secret multi-million pound footpaths of Firle. You can find it on-line here. The Firle Estate, near Lewes in East Sussex, contains some of the most iconic walking landscape in the country, including the Firle Beacon stretch of the South Downs Way. There are many legal rights of way and areas of statutory public access, but, as many landlowners will ruefully tell you, you don’t get money for that. So it might surprise you to learn that the Estate has obtained exemption from inheritance tax (1) on nearly all the estate which would otherwise be subject to inheritance tax (2) in return …read more

Our 150th birthday

31 December 2014

This year, 2015, we celebrate our 150th anniversary—the first national conservation body to do so. Founded on 19 July 1865 as the Commons Preservation Society we first saved London commons from destruction and 30 years later created the National Trust—and we are still fighting. Now the society campaigns throughout England and Wales to protect common land, greens, open spaces and public paths. Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, says: ‘A century and a half ago no one would have thought that today there would be at least 2,212 square miles (an area roughly the size of Lincolnshire) of common land in England and Wales. This is because of the campaigns led by the Open Spaces Society to ensure that commons and …read more

Speak up for commons, open spaces and footpaths in East Sussex

8 December 2014

The Open Spaces Society is urging everyone who walks, rides or cycles on the commons, open spaces and footpaths of East Sussex to tell East Sussex County Council how important those facilities are to them. The council is conducting a survey of usage of these facilities. You can find it on the consultations page of the East Sussex County Council website here. Open Spaces Society local correspondent for Wealden, Brendan Clegg says “The survey questions are a little confused but this is an excellent opportunity for people in East Sussex to tell their council about how vital open spaces and footpaths are. We urge people to use the comments sections in the questions to tell the council how important it …read more

Shropshire beauty-spot under siege

27 November 2014

The society has objected to proposed development on the slopes of the dramatic Caer Caradoc, near Church Stretton in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The plans, from Morris Property, are for 85 dwellings and 16 holiday units, sprawled over fields immediately to the south-west of Caer Caradoc and east of Church Stretton. Says Harry Scott, our local correspondent for Shropshire: ‘We are appalled by this proposal which will spoil the splendid approach to Caer Caradoc for ever. The views from the surrounding hills will also be ruined. It will be visible from as far away as the Long Mynd on the other side of the valley. ‘Church Stretton is a tourist hub as well as an accredited …read more

Firle Estate – tax free and for what?

19 November 2014

The Firle Estate, near Lewes in East Sussex contains some of the most iconic walking landscape in the country, including the Firle Beacon stretch of the South Downs Way. So it might not surprise you to learn that the Estate has obtained exemption from inheritance tax (2) on nearly all the estate (3) in return for keeping the estate in good condition and allowing public access. This is a considerable tax concession and one that many home owners in the South-East would like to have. But what are we getting for our money? An examination of the agreements made between the estate and the government show that all we seem to have got are two short footpaths: 1) South from …read more

Path to Ramsgate Harbour confirmed

20 October 2014

The society is delighted that a new public highway has been recorded at Ramsgate harbour in Kent. The route runs between Madeira Walk and the lower esplanade at the harbour via a flight of steps and a tunnel. The society’s local correspondent for Thanet, Gordon Sencicle, backed the claim. Because there was an objection, the matter was determined by Helen Slade, inspector with the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The claim for the path to be added to the official map was based on documentary evidence. Kent County Council, the surveying authority, has a legal duty to investigate the existence of public rights of way in the area of Ramsgate …read more

Saving an important route in Cwmcarn Forest, Caerphilly

22 September 2014

Some months ago, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) made it known that as part of the plans to counteract the spread of Phytophthora ramorum (Larch disease) it would be felling all the larch trees in Cwmcarn Forest and closing the Forest Drive. Cwmcarn is alone in Wales in having a drive as well as cycling trails, walking trails, a visitors’ centre and a children’s playground. We have been aware of the threat of Larch disease to local forests and woodland for some time, but the threat of the closure of the drive came as a huge surprise. If other forests which do not have a drive can manage we wondered why the Cwmcarn drive should close. The threat of temporary closure …read more

We fight proposed wind turbine in Herefordshire

19 August 2014

We have objected to an application for a wind turbine, access track, hard-standing, substation and temporary construction-compound in rural Herefordshire. The planning application has been submitted by g2 Energy Renewable Developments Ltd for a 77-metre-high turbine at Halfridge Farm, Pippins Hill, Acton Beauchamp. Our local correspondent, Peter Newman, has written to Herefordshire Council, the planning authority: ‘The proposal would have an adverse effect on the very attractive surrounding countryside, being in a prominent position on high land which is around 180 metres above sea level. ‘The new track would be built partially along public footpath AB4A which would reduce its current rural surface to a more urban dusty track. ‘Public bridleway AB10 runs a short distance west of the site …read more

Defeat of Somerset solar farm

15 August 2014

We are delighted that a planning inspector has rejected plans for a solar farm. The development was proposed by MS Power Projects Ltd at Ritherdens, Rumwell, on three fields about a kilometre west of Taunton in Somerset. Taunton Deane Borough Council’s planning committee overturned the officer’s recommendation and refused planning permission, but the developers appealed and the matter was determined by Mr D C Pinner of the Planning Inspectorate. Our local correspondent Mr Paul Partington objected to the plans. The inspector reported that ‘The three footpaths crossing the appeal site provide safe and attractive places to walk. There are open views from these paths for much of their lengths and this contributes significantly to their attractiveness.’ He referred to them …read more

John Riddall—a lawyer for the people

3 August 2014

We are sad that John Riddall, who lived in Bradwell in the Derbyshire Peak District, has died aged 86.  He had been our vice-president since 2003 and was a trustee (1987–1993) and our local correspondent for the Derbyshire Dales district (1986-1994). With John Trevelyan he was co-author of the second, third and fourth editions of the famous ‘blue bible’ Rights of Way: a guide to law and practice, and the author of the second edition of our book Getting Greens Registered. In our movement he will be best remembered, and with huge gratitude, for his campaign to kill what he called the ‘belief virus’.  When claiming public paths or village greens, one has to prove 20 years’ use without interruption …read more

Take care of your footpaths

31 July 2014

In a recent edition of the Clun Chronicle, Cliff Freund, our long-standing member and former local correspondent for Shropshire, stresses the importance of getting involved, and supporting organisations such as OSS, if you want to protect your local rights-of-way network. Read his article here.

Delight at ruling against path closure at Maulden, Beds

4 July 2014

We are delighted that a plan to close a footpath in Maulden, Central Bedfordshire has been rejected by an independent inspector following a public inquiry last month. Central Bedfordshire Council made an order to close Maulden footpath 28 which runs past the property Ein-Ty in Clophill Road. Because there were objections, from the Open Spaces Society, Ramblers, Bedfordshire Rights of Way Association and East Herts Footpath Society among others, the matter was referred to the Planning Inspectorate. The 153-metre path, which runs from Clophill Road north to join bridleway 24 leading to Clophill Woods, has a controversial history. The owner of Ein-Ty, Mr Bowers, has repeatedly tried to get the route removed. Mid Bedfordshire District Council made two orders, in …read more

Luddesdown’s tribute to Pat Wilson

The Luddesdown Rights of Way Group has organised a finger-post in memory of the late Pat Wilson, our vice-president and local correspondent, pointing down the Bowling Alley at Luddesdown in Kent’s North Downs. In 1984 local people and national organisations, with Pat in the vanguard, defeated an attempt by the military to take over the area for training. Thanks to their efforts it remains as peaceful and beautiful as ever. On 22 June the group had a ceremony to unveil the finger-post.

Pat Wilson

10 April 2014

Give now online in memory of Pat Wilson Pat Wilson, our vice-president and local correspondent, who fought for paths and open spaces throughout Kent and Medway for more than 50 years, has died aged 97 at her home in Kent. We are most grateful that Pat wanted donations in her memory to be made to the Open Spaces Society to enable us to continue the work which she supported so tirelessly for many years.     Make a donation straight from your credit or debit card. It’s fast, secure and easy. Please also consider leaving the society a legacy in your will. Please complete and return the form below if you would like us to be able to claim Gift …read more

‘Pathfinder Pat’ dies aged 97, still fighting for rights of way in Kent

We are sad to report that Pat Wilson, our vice-president and local correspondent, who fought for paths and open spaces throughout Kent and Medway for more than 50 years, has died aged 97 at her home in Kent. Pat was our local correspondent for Medway for 20 years. Before that she served as Ramblers’ footpath secretary for Kent. She was the president and founder of the Meopham and District Footpaths Group in north Kent. She died peacefully on Friday (4 April) while still in the midst of her campaigning work. Pat saved countless paths and open spaces in Kent and Medway. In 2012 she claimed more than 120 urban alleyways in Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham for the official path-map. Her …read more

Our new activist for Wealden District, East Sussex

12 March 2014

We have appointed Mr Brendan Clegg as our local correspondent for Wealden District in East Sussex. Brendan will be the society’s eyes and ears, keeping a close watch on paths, commons, greens and open spaces in the district and intervening as necessary. Says Brendan: ‘I am very pleased to be appointed as local correspondent for the society. In the Wealden District of East Sussex we have some of the finest access land in the south-east, including the 6,400-acre Ashdown Forest (of Winnie the Pooh fame), and part of the South Downs National Park. We also have an extensive network of public rights of way. ‘I look forward to helping protect the open spaces, the commons, greens and public paths that …read more

Richard Harland, 1920 – 2013

23 February 2014

We remember Richard Harland, our former vice-chairman who died aged 93 last November, and  who made a quiet but significant contribution to commons and access. Richard Harland was a Quaker, a pacifist and campaigner, who loved beautiful landscapes and their history, and had a strong belief that people should be free to enjoy the countryside. Richard was born at Scarborough and spent his early years there.  As a teenager he roamed the nearby moors, alone or with his family; he loved the heather and the becks and enjoyed looking for prehistoric remains.  He went to Bootham School, York, and Queen’s College, Oxford where he studied modern history and jurisprudence. In 1941 he registered as a conscientious objector to military service …read more

Fencing on Hunsdon Mead common is approved

21 February 2014

The Planning Inspectorate has approved an application from the Herts and North Middlesex Wildlife Trust for fencing on Hunsdon Mead Common in Essex. The trust applied to erect a permanent, 1,000-metre fence along the line of the towpath boundary of the common to prevent disturbance of sheep grazing the common. We objected because the fence will separate the towpath from the rest of the common, yet the public has the right to walk over the whole area.  The fence will have an adverse impact on the open nature of the area.  Also we feared that the fencing will lead to conflicts between users on the towpath because the path is fairly narrow.  We argued that the trust should aim to …read more

Disused railway should be village green for Llanmorlais

21 January 2014

The community of Llanmorlais, a small village seven miles west of Swansea, could see a strip of disused railway confirmed as their village green after a public inquiry in March. James Matthews, an Open Spaces Society member, has made the application after villagers completed evidence of their uninterrupted use of the land for 20 years. We welcome our member’s application for a village green. ‘This will be a fabulous asset for a small community, protecting the disused railway for local people to continue to enjoy for informal recreation,’ says Jay Kynch, our local correspondent in South Wales. ‘What is most important is that local residents used the green, for play and other informal recreation, between 1989 and 2009 without seeking …read more

Horsted Keynes footpath is saved

20 January 2014

A popular footpath at Horsted Keynes, four miles north-east of Haywards Heath in West Sussex, has been saved on its existing route. West Sussex County Council backed the landowner, Miss Wykeham-Martin, in her application to move the footpath, number 8/1, which runs across three fields at Lucas Farm to the edge of two of them. Because there were objections the case was referred to the Planning Inspectorate and a public inquiry was held last year, at which the objectors included the society, Horsted Keynes Parish Council, the Ramblers and four local residents. The inspector, Susan Doran, ruled that the path should not be moved. Although the landowner had cited problems of users straying from the official line of the path, …read more

Our Caerphilly activist wins Environmental Champion Award

10 December 2013

Maggie Thomas, our local correspondent for Caerphilly, has won the Environmental Champion prize in Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Pride in your Place award, for her work in defending public paths and open spaces. Maggie, who lives in Crosskeys, is also membership secretary for Islwyn Ramblers. Says Maggie: ‘I was thrilled to receive this award on a personal level and on behalf of the organisations I represent. I hope that people will be encouraged to find out more about the work that the Open Spaces Society, Ramblers and the Twmbarlwm Society do and be prepared to volunteer in those and other organisations which help to improve our environment’. Adds Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘Maggie certainly deserves this award for all …read more

Charlton Common saved: developers withdraw road-proposal

6 November 2013

Redrow Homes has withdrawn its proposal to build a 6.4-metre-wide road with a three-metre-wide pedestrian and cycle lane across Charlton Common in South Gloucestershire.  The application was in connection with adjoining development. The public inquiry, due to start on 26 November, has been cancelled.  The inquiry opened in April and was immediately adjourned.  The room at the BAWA Club, Filton, was overflowing with objectors from Southmead, Brentry and Henbury, who had not been consulted about the plans and who were angry at what was proposed. Because the road was to be built across common land,) Redrow Homes needed consent from the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, as well as planning permission. We were one of …read more

Porthcawl’s quiet lane saved from development

31 October 2013

We have welcomed Bridgend County Borough Council’s decision to refuse planning permission on land at Moor Lane, Porthcawl, south Wales. The society objected because Moor Lane is popular with walkers, runners, horse riders and cyclists, and these vulnerable road-users could not have continued to enjoy this narrow country lane. Porthcawl Riders and local residents from Nottage opposed the application for a store and distribution centre which would have been serviced by heavy goods traffic. Natural Resources Wales was concerned because of the adverse effect on protected wildlife. Refusing the application as an ‘undesirable sporadic development outside any existing settlement boundary’ the council noted the rural character of the area. Moor Lane is ancient, going back to the sixteenth century, and …read more

Norfolk Coast path risks being a subdued trail

17 September 2013

The Norfolk coast path is at risk of being ‘a subdued trail that would miss out some of the most majestic stretches of our coastline’. So declares our Norfolk local correspondent, Ian Witham. Ian has commented on Natural England’s consultation for the stretch of coastal access, to be introduced under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, between Sea Palling and Weybourne in Norfolk. Ian was responding to the public consultation on Natural England’s final report for the 41-km stretch; the consultation closed on Monday 16 September. Ian has called the route ‘disappointing, frustrating and a wasted opportunity’. Says Ian: ‘Unfortunately the route of the trail Natural England proposes falls well short of what was expected and hoped for, with …read more

Equestrians recognised as vulnerable road-users by Welsh Government

3 September 2013

We welcome the inclusion of equestrians among vulnerable road-users in the Welsh Government’s recently-released Road Safety Framework for Wales, which sets out its approach to road safety until 2020.* The Welsh Government’s decision to put horses alongside pedestrians and cyclists follows lobbying led by the British Horse Society along with Open Spaces Society members. It is expected that this new policy will cause the Welsh Government and local authorities to engage more actively with horse-riders and carriage-drivers when they are considering road safety, and it will raise the issue of safety measures where horses are regularly ridden or driven on the road network. The Welsh Government recognises that collisions of vehicles with horses are life threatening to horse and rider, …read more

South Bristol link road’s damage to commons and paths

28 August 2013

We have objected to the proposed South Bristol Link Road, because of the damage it will cause to Highridge Common, south-west of Bristol, and to the public-path network.  Our local correspondent for Bristol, Chris Bloor, has submitted a robust objection to Bristol and North Somerset Councils who are promoting the scheme. Says Chris: ‘We are concerned with the threat to Highridge Common, where the increase in traffic is likely to stop parents allowing their children to play on the common, something they have enjoyed for ever.  The Link Road is bound to drive more children indoors, thus contributing to the obesity crisis.  The proposed new common to replace the common taken up by the proposed Link Road cannot compensate for …read more

Section 56 and all that …………

2 August 2013

Alan Lyne, our local correspondent for Carlisle City, tells of his success in getting rights of way opened with the threat of a notice under section 56 of the Highways Act 1980. Trawling back through the Redspearlands Footpaths Group’s archives, Alan came across the papers from a meeting of the Cumbria County Council Development Control and Regulation Committee on 19 February 2008. There was a report written by the then Head of Transport and Spatial Planning, setting out the options for the committee to consider as a means of solving three long-standing cases of obstruction. One of these was the river crossing for BW114036 at Roewath Bridge, near Stockdalewath. The proposed solution consisted of, initially, steps down both embankments so …read more

Our new activist for Cambridgeshire

21 May 2013

We have appointed Mrs Alysoun Hodges of Ely as our local correspondent for Cambridgeshire. Alysoun was until last year the definitive map development manager for Cambridgeshire County Council, having worked on public rights of way for almost 22 years. During that time she initiated and led the county council’s ‘lost highways project’ which resulted in the permanent protection of many historic routes Says Alysoun: ‘I believe deeply in the importance of free access to the countryside and green open spaces for everyone. I look forward to working with the Open Spaces Society to protect and enhance Cambridgeshire’s paths and countryside.’

Charlton Common inquiry adjourned

8 April 2013

The public inquiry into a new access-road across Charlton Common in South Gloucestershire opened yesterday (9 April) and was immediately adjourned. The room at the BAWA Club, Filton, was overflowing with objectors from Southmead, Brentry and Henbury, who had not been consulted about the plans and who were angry at what was proposed. The inspector, Mrs Helen Slade, has adjourned the inquiry until November. The application from Redrow Homes is for a 6.4-metre-wide road with a three-metre-wide pedestrian/cycle lane in connection with adjoining development. Because the road is across common land, Redrow Homes need consent from the Planning Inspectorate, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, as well as planning permission. The society is one of the objectors. Our …read more

Our VP Edgar Powell retires from Worcestershire LAF

19 March 2013

Edgar Powell, our vice-president and local correspondent for Worcestershire and part of Herefordshire, has retired from Worcestershire Local Access Forum (LAF) on which he has served for ten years, six of them as chairman. The LAF made a presentation to Edgar on 14 March. Its chairman, Gerry Taggart, paid tribute to him: ‘The LAF was created in 2003 and Edgar was elected as its first chairman. He did two three-year stints. In the early days he put in a huge amount of work for the LAF. The LAF was something completely new, albeit with guidance notes provided by the government. So Edgar was instrumental in drawing up procedures to be followed. ‘He is an expert in all things connected with …read more

Footpaths at Cleeve, North Somerset, saved from alteration

4 March 2013

Cleeve Parish Council, a member of the Open Spaces Society, and our local correspondent for North Somerset, John Ives, have succeeded in getting an Inspector to reject a proposal to move several footpaths at Main Road, Cleeve, two miles north-east of Congresbury. Originally the highway authority, North Somerset District Council, sought to overcome a longstanding anomaly on the definitive (official) map by diverting a disputed path line onto the path which had been regularly used by the public for many years. This latter path had its termination point marked with a fingerpost since 1995. This proposal was supported by the parish council and the Open Spaces Society. The landowner objected and put forward an alternative plan which included diverting two …read more

Two new greens are registered in Kent for local people to enjoy

Two new village greens have been registered in Kent: Four Acres Green in East Malling and Willow Road Green in Larkfield. Now they are protected for ever more. Four Acres Green was set aside as a play area when the council estate was built in the 1960s. It has been used for informal recreation ever since. Two years ago the owner, the Housing Association, proposed to redevelop an adjoining garage site and the play area for new houses. Residents objected and applied to Kent County Council (KCC) to register the land as a green, with evidence that they had used it for informal recreation, including ballgames, dog-walking and building snowmen. In order for land to be registered as a green, …read more

Two new volunteers for the society

2 January 2013

We have appointed two new local correspondents: Brian Cowling for Bedford Borough, and Chris Smith for Lewes District in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove City. Brian worked as a rights-of-way officer for Bedfordshire County Council and then Bedford Borough Council when it became a unitary authority.  He enjoys walking, backpacking in the UK, reading, gardening and other hobbies.  As a volunteer he recently surveyed the local public rights of way for the council.  He looks forward to pressing the council to focus on its rights-of-way duties instead of threatening to cut its small path-team still further.   Chris has been an activist for the last 40 years and since 1987 he was involved in the campaign to win the …read more

New ammunition for fighting landowners’ path-diversions

28 December 2012

Ever since we received a favourable opinion from George Laurence QC on the interpretation of ‘expedient’ in section 119 of the Highways Act 1980 (the section which deals with the diversion of public paths), the Ramblers and ourselves have been looking for a suitable case on which to test this. The case emerged when the Ramblers, Bodicote Parish Council (represented by our local correspondent Chris Hall) and other objectors lost the diversion order for Bodicote footpath 8 and Bloxham footpath 2, which ran past Bodicote Mill in north Oxfordshire (see Open Space spring 2012 page 13).  Bolstered by Mr Laurence’s opinion, Chris had argued at the public inquiry that the term ‘expedient’ in section 119(1) of the Highways Act 1980 …read more

Vital footpath-link at Halling is added to official map

18 December 2012

We are delighted that a footpath across Halling Marsh close to the River Medway is to be added to the official map of public paths for all to enjoy.  The 580-metre-long path will fill the gap in an attractive circular walk. The decision to record the footpath was made by an inspector from the Planning Inspectorate, Mr Mark Yates, following a public inquiry last summer.  The path claim was supported by many walkers, and 16 gave evidence at the inquiry.  It was opposed by the Kent Wildfowling and Conservation Association (KWCA), which uses the area to shoot wildfowl.  KWCA had owned much of the route since 2004. The inspector had to be satisfied that the route had been used by …read more

We help to save Somerset paths

16 November 2012

We have helped save two public footpaths at Oake Manor golf course, near Taunton in Somerset, from being moved to inferior routes.  Our local correspondent Paul Partington was among the objectors at a hearing last month.  The inspector’s decision, refusing the path changes, was issued last week. The existing routes run from Oake Manor in a direct line eastwards, whereas the proposed diversion would have taken walkers on a circuitous path, out of their way.  The inspector, Mr D Isaac, rejected the change because it brought walkers closer to the driving range, putting them at risk, and there was an awkward crossing of a stream, with a steep slope, stile and narrow bridge. Says Paul: ‘We are delighted to have …read more

Disappointing fencing decision for Hednesford Hills

25 September 2012

We are disappointed that the Secretary of State for Environment has approved an application for fencing on Hednesford Hills Common on the north-east side of Cannock in Staffordshire. We objected to this application, along with the British Horse Society and individuals. Cannock Chase Council applied to erect permanent stockproof fencing around two areas of the common, with gates and stiles. The plan is to allow grazing of the land for the restoration of heathland. We recognise the benefit of grazing heathland commons, but said that the fencing will enclose significant areas, giving a paddock effect. Horse-riders have rights of access over the whole common but the access points in the fencing are not appropriate for horse-riders. The common is well …read more

Threat to Charlton Common

3 September 2012

Redrow Homes South West wants to build a wide access road across Charlton Common in South Gloucestershire, north of Bristol. The developers have applied to the Secretary of State for Environment for consent for works on common land, and we have objected. The plan is to realign and widen the existing access road, Charlton Lane, to a 6.4-metre-wide road with a three-metre-wide pedestrian/cycle lane, in connection with adjoining development. Charlton Common is a tiny but important area of open land. It provides an valuable link in a linear walk, the Charlton Walk. This is a three-mile walk between Patchway and Filton, developed by South Gloucestershire Council, the Forest of Avon, Patchway Town Council and Patchway Conservation Group. It goes around …read more

Meopham’s ‘model’ path-campaign group

18 August 2012

‘Meopham and District Footpaths Group is a model for local action groups throughout the country.’  So said our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, at the Meopham Footpath Group’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations today  (Saturday 18 August).  ‘For the last 50 years the group has combined campaigning for its local paths with an excellent walks programme.  The Open Spaces Society relies on local campaign-groups to help us achieve our aims of protecting paths, common land and village greens. ‘The founder and president of the Meopham Footpaths Group, the indefatigable 95-year-old Pat Wilson, is also our local correspondent for part of Medway and she is still a force to be reckoned with—a thorn in the flesh of developers and path-blocking landowners. ‘The Meopham Footpaths …read more

We oppose land swap in Rhondda village

30 July 2012

We have objected to plans to swap part of the village green, at Chapel Street, Blaencwm, to allow development.  Glaister Russell Developments Ltd has applied to the Environment Minister for permission to deregister 238 square metres of the green and to provide land in exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006. Says Jay Kynch, our local correspondent for Rhondda Cynon Taff: ‘This is a quiet Valleys’ village where the village green is important, for the landscape setting and for community recreation.  Children play here and older people, many of whom remember the old colliery, enjoy sitting there.  There is an abundance of wildlife—sparrowhawks, buzzards, woodpeckers and squirrels.  ‘The strip of land being offered in exchange is inferior, it …read more

Painting of Hound Tor, Dartmoor, Devon

13 July 2012

We are pleased to offer this unique opportunity to own an original painting and thereby support the work of the Open Spaces Society. Our local correspondent, Bob Milton, has kindly offered his original painting of Hound Tor on Dartmoor, Devon, for auction to raise funds for the society. Please send sealed bids to: Ellen Froggatt, Open Spaces Society, 25a Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA to arrive no later than Friday 31 December 2012.

Our new path-protagonist for Guildford

21 June 2012

We are pleased to announce that we have appointed Colin Sandford as our new local correspondent for the Borough of Guildford in Surrey.   Colin, who lives in Effingham, has a lifelong interest in horse-riding and this inspired his interest in countryside access.  Colin will be our eyes and ears in this area, keeping a close watch on the state of all public paths and reporting any problems to Surrey County Council, the highway authority, and helping and advising with the protection of commons, greens and other open spaces.   Colin has retired after a career in retail commercial management. He is a member of the British Horse Society and the Surrey Horse Riders’ Working Party.   Before joining the …read more

Juniper disease affects public access in Upper Teesdale

26 March 2012

We are sorry to learn of the outbreak of a deadly disease to junipers, caused by a pathogen which has recently been discovered in the junipers of Upper Teesdale. Some of the area is open access land, which has been temporarily closed. Our local correspondent for County Durham, Jo Bird, tell us that this is still being investigated and the results of various tests are awaited. Until more is known about the disease no one is prepared to say how long the restriction might be in place. The Pennine Way runs through the restricted area, but remains open, with footbaths and brushes to clean boots at each end, one of which is very close to High Force. The only other …read more

Chorleywood Common fencing plan withdrawn

10 November 2011

We are relieved that Chorleywood Parish Council has withdrawn its application for fencing on the lovely Chorleywood Common in Hertfordshire. The council had applied to the Secretary of State for Environment for consent, under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, to erect 1,152 metres of permanent fencing and 352 metres of temporary fencing, enclosing 7.5 hectares on Larks Meadow adjoining Dog Kennel Lane. The council said it needed the fencing to enable the land to be grazed by cattle to increase the diversity of the flora and fauna. However, the council went ahead and erected some of the fencing before it sought consent. We were among the many objectors to the plan. Says Chris Beney, our Hertfordshire correspondent: ‘We …read more

Our open day at Northwick Park

4 September 2011

On Saturday 3 September the society held its open day at Northwick Park, in the London Borough of Brent. It was hosted by our feisty Northwick Park Group at St Cuthbert’s Hall and 34 people attended. Margaret Roake from the Northwick Park Group gave us a short history of Harrow.  She spoke of how Harrow became popular as commuter land when the metropolitan railway was developed, quoting the rhyme: ‘The richest crop that you can grow, is a crop of houses, all in a row.’ Our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, picked up on this when she spoke about the current row over the government’s proposals to dismantle the planning system, and to smother green spaces with housing when ample brownfield sites were available.  Nicola Hodgson, our case officer, talked about …read more

Caldicot school path saved

17 August 2011

Monmouthshire County Council’s plan to close part of the footpath which crosses the grounds of Castle Park Primary School, Caldicot, has been thrown out by Welsh ministers. A planning inspector, Heidi Cruickshank, ruled on the proposal on behalf of the ministers. The footpath, number 28, is enclosed by fencing and runs across the school playing-field. The county council invoked a special law for closing paths across school grounds, which required it to prove that it was necessary to close the path to protect pupils or staff from violence or harassment. The society’s local correspondent for Monmouthshire, Owen Morgan, and two others objected to the proposal. The inspector rejected the plan on the grounds that the school had not provided the …read more

Mirfield path reopened

3 August 2011

John Fawcett, our local correspondent for Kirklees, has persuaded Kirklees Council to reopen a blocked footpath, Mirfield no 21. This is a popular, well-used path between Greenside Road and Wellhouse Lane in Mirfield, north-east of Huddersfield. The path was obstructed by an overhanging fence which made it difficult and dangerous to use. John had pressed the council, which has a legal duty to keep paths clear of obstruction, to act but it had failed to do so, replying: ‘if the fence is “almost overhanging” the footpath we will not be visiting the site as there is no reason to. I’m afraid we do not have the resources to visit every problem reported especially if it is a minor issue’. Determined …read more

Kington Footpath Scheme celebrates twentieth birthday

14 April 2011

The Kington Footpath Scheme, which has led to the reopening and refurbishment of countless public paths in 16 parishes in north west Herefordshire, this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Peter Newman, a trustee of the society and our local correspondent for north-west Herefordshire, invented the scheme and has led it for the past 20 years.  It is run in conjunction with the society, Herefordshire Council and the Hereford Probation Service. Says Peter: ‘Over the last 20 years, with the help of offenders on Community Payback, we have erected about 600 footpath and bridleway signs and 130 waymark posts, all marked with the Open Spaces Society’s logo; we have installed 600 stiles and 18 footbridges up to seven metres long, and …read more

Horse-development rejected in Chatham countryside

11 April 2011

We have helped to prevent a damaging development, at Capstone Road, Chatham in Medway, from going ahead.  The application was for the excavation of land for the creation of a riding ménage and construction of a stable block next to Drowlhill Woods. Our Medway local correspondent, the indefatigable 94-year-old Pat Wilson, opposed the plan when it went to the council’s planning committee and then on appeal.  The appeal was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate last month. The society opposed the application because the area already suffers from excessive horsey-culture.  Pat Wilson remembers it a decade ago as unspoiled but now there are stable blocks, haystores, tack rooms, horse jumps and extensive fencing of all kinds, which the council referred to …read more

Our new activist for Rhondda Cynon Taff

8 April 2011

Jay Kynch of Efail Isaf, near Pontypridd in south Wales, is our new local correspondent for the southern part of Rhondda Cynon Taff. Jay is a retired development economist who has worked as a researcher at Oxford University and a lecturer at Swansea University; she has researched poverty in Indian villages and social exclusion and regeneration in the South Wales valleys, among many other projects.  She is a horse-rider, who rides most mornings in her local countryside. A few months ago, Jay fought unsuccessfully to stop an ancient road to Garth Mountain from being downgraded to a footpath, denying horse-riders and cyclists an important route to the summit. Says Jay: ‘The loss of that road was sad, and the Open …read more

Victory for Kent coastland

9 February 2011

Kent County Council has resolved to register land adjacent to Barnes car-park on Westbrook Promenade, near Margate in Kent, as a village green. We backed our member WASPS (Westbrook Against Selling Promenade Site) led by Tony Sykes, in its bid to secure rights for local people to enjoy this land for recreation, as well as to protect it from development. The applicants had to show that local people had used the land for informal recreation, for at least 20 years without permission and without being stopped. They produced 115 witness forms demonstrating that people had enjoyed the land for walking, with or without dogs, nature observation, playing with children, camping, kite flying, ball games and admiring the view. The one-hectare …read more

Wellow path safe

23 November 2010

With the Ramblers’ Association, we have saved a path at Wellow, five miles south of Bath, from being moved to an inferior route. This follows a public inquiry held on 2 November into Bath and North East Somerset Council’s (BANES) plans to move the path. The existing route runs from Bull’s Hill south to join another path near Wellow Brook. The proposed new route joins the road at the bottom of Bull’s Hill, through the arch of the former railway viaduct. On reaching the road, the view for walkers is blocked by one of the pillars of the viaduct. Our local correspondent, John Ives, had objected to the proposal. The new termination point for the path was required by law …read more

Blocked path reopened at Charlcombe, Bath

17 November 2010

A blocked path at Valley View Road, Charlcombe, near Bath has been reopened, following pressure from the society. Supporting a local member, we mobilised the local councillor and the Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council’s parks department and public rights of way department. The path, which leads to the allotments and a local football pitch, has been used by villagers for more than a century. Several years ago the landowner put up a locked gate and filled in the path with debris, but it was eventually reopened at the end of October. This means that local residents no longer have to make a 100-yard detour up a very narrow and dangerous country lane. Says John Ives, our local correspondent …read more

Our activists gather for training weekend

21 October 2010

Sixteen of our local correspondents, with trustees and other friends and staff, met at Losehill Hall, in the heart of the Peak District National Park, for a training weekend in mid October. The event was generously funded by the Bantam Trust and the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust. We held a number of sessions and workshops during which correspondents swapped ideas and expertise, and set out their thoughts on how we can help them to do their job even more effectively. The weekend also included a ‘balcony walk’ around the contours of the Hope Valley which was led by our member, Peter Townsend. We were pleased to welcome Anne Robinson, chairman of the Campaign for National Parks, and our vice-president John …read more

Land swap for Runton Common

12 October 2010

We are disappointed that the Planning Inspectorate has agreed to a land swap at Runton Common, west of Cromer on the north Norfolk coast, to enable Norfolk County Council to carry out highway improvements on the C293 Station Road over the railway. Because Norfolk County Council is to take, by compulsory purchase, registered common land for its works, it must provide land in exchange. The exchange land is a nearby wooded area. We are notified of all such applications and we objected to this one. Explains our local correspondent, Ian Witham: ‘We are not convinced that the highway works, consisting of bridge strengthening and footway improvements, are necessary. We are concerned that they will mar the appearance of the common …read more

New representative for Stratford District

23 September 2010

We have appointed Peter Bolton of Wellesbourne as our local correspondent for Stratford District. Peter, a retired history teacher and architectural historian, has lived in Warwickshire for nearly 40 years and has walked some 4,000 miles of local paths in every district of the county and every parish of the Stratford-on-Avon District. Peter will be keeping a close watch on the state of paths in the area and says: ‘I shall be reporting any problems on paths to Warwickshire County Council, the highway authority, and monitoring progress. I shall also respond to any proposals to alter the routes of paths, and objecting where there is not a clear public interest in the plan. We are delighted to welcome Peter as …read more

New activist for South Derbyshire

7 September 2010

We have appointed Barry Thomas, of Melbourne, south of Derby, as our local correspondent for South Derbyshire. Barry will be our eyes and ears in this area, keeping a close watch on the state of the paths and reporting any problems to Derbyshire County Council, the highway authority. Barry is a retired Derby teacher, where he taught at Landau Forte College for 17 years. He has been a walker for many more years and has written the routes for various walks books. Says Barry: ‘South Derbyshire has a varied network of paths which is in a reasonable condition. However, we have been without a footpaths officer for some months and I feel the network is suffering. ‘I spend one day …read more

Beauty-spot footpaths saved

4 May 2010

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ruled that two popular and well-used footpaths at the fifteenth-century Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will remain public rights of way. Welcoming the decision, our local correspondent, Gerry Stewart, said, ‘We were delighted to support the many local people who opposed the plan to close paths at Sudeley Castle.’ After holding a three-day public inquiry over the christmas period the inspector, Ms Susan Doran, has agreed with objectors and declined to confirm orders made by Gloucestershire County Council.  These would have excluded parishioners and ramblers from part of the castle drive and from a path passing close to the castle linking to …read more

Path claimed at Brook, Surrey

31 March 2010

A public footpath will be added to the official map of rights of way, thanks to the efforts of our local correspondent, Ralph Holmes.  Ralph, who covers Waverley Borough in Surrey claimed a footpath on the Rockwood Estate, Brook, near Witley.  The path runs from near West Lodge on Haslemere Road (the A286) to Parsonage Farm, where it joins paths to Mare Hill, Sandhills and Witley.   Ralph’s application was supported by detailed written evidence from more than 50 local people who had used the path, 15 of whom gave evidence at the four-day public inquiry last October. The public inquiry was necessary because there were objections from the landowner, Mr and Mrs Swarbreck.  The inquiry inspector, Mark Yates, has …read more

Waverley viaduct

25 March 2010

Our local correspondent for Carlisle, Ken West, is urging people to sign up to the petition to Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council, calling on them to purchase Waverley Viaduct and enable it to be restored and maintained as a historic feature and for use by walkers and cyclists. For further information contact Ken.

Norfolk gets results with enforcement on public paths

1 March 2010

We have praised Norfolk County Council for taking enforcement action on public paths in the county.  Last year the council served a notice on the landowner who had illegally blocked the public footpath which runs alongside Little Hautbois Hall, the £1.8-million Tudor mansion in the parish of Buxton with Lammas.  The landowner gave in and removed the obstructing gate and fence.  Now the path may be walked again by everyone. Between July 2007 and December 2009, the council served 288 initial notices on landowners to remove obstructions.  It had to serve a further 49 notices on those who did not comply. Says Ian Witham, our Norfolk local correspondent: ‘The council is seeing some good results from this tough action.  Now …read more