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Portsmouth campaigners, with our support, have made a big stride forward in getting a path around Camber Dock, at the mouth of the harbour, recognised as a public right of way.
In 2014 Kenneth Bailey and Anna Koor of the Camber Action Group applied to Portsmouth City Council to add the route of approximately 575 metres in length to the official map of public rights of way (the definitive map). The applicants needed to demonstrate that the route had been used for 20 years without challenge or interruption. They initially submitted 11 user-evidence forms to this effect, subsequently providing evidence from over 90 people.
The council refused the application, in part because it considered the use of the right of way would interfere with the use of Camber Dock for statutory port duty, despite the applicants and witnesses attesting that their public rights over this route had co-existed with port activities without historical evidence of any conflict. In recent decades the Camber basin’s uses have been largely recreational and sporting activities, including Ben Ainslie Racing.
The applicants appealed against the council’s decision, however their appeal was dismissed owing to rights in respect of a byway open to all traffic being extinguished by the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act. The applicants reapplied in 2016 for the route to be recorded either as a restricted byway (for use by walkers, riders and cyclists) or as a footpath. Again, the council refused, so in 2017 they appealed to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to direct the council to make an order.
Mark Yates, a planning inspector acting on behalf of the environment secretary, was required at this stage to determine whether the route ‘was reasonably alleged to subsist’. He agreed that there is a reasonable case and has directed the council to raise an order for a restricted byway.
This order will be published. If there are any unresolved objections, these will be addressed by another planning inspector.
Says Anna Koor: ‘We are delighted that we have got through to the next round at last and look forward to the council making an order for this well-used and much-loved route.’
Adds Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We congratulate Ken and Anna on their persistence in recording this route. It has taken them over three years, with disappointments along the way, but at last they have had a breakthrough. This is an important road on the edge of Portsmouth Harbour, which is used and enjoyed by many and we sincerely hope that it is recorded on the definitive map.’