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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 the public for 20 years, without being stopped or asking permission. He concluded that the evidence of the users, between 1985 and 2005, was sufficient to demonstrate that there had been such use. He further considered that the landowners had not taken sufficient action to indicate to the public that they did not intend the route to be dedicated as a public footpath.
Explains Maggie Coleman, the Open Spaces Society’s local correspondent in Medway, who lives in Halling: ‘Eight years ago a private shooting club purchased some land in Halling village and closed off a footpath across that land which had been used by local residents, uninterrupted, for up to 60 years, as part of a circular walk around Halling Marsh by the River Medway. The KWCA had erected metal posts and barbed wire across the path.
‘Local residents approached Halling Parish Council to apply for the path to be added to the official map. After years of research, local residents providing user evidence forms, and a public inquiry that lasted three days, footpath RS320 will now be added to the official map.
‘Along with many residents in and around the village, Halling parish and Medway councils, I am absolutely delighted that we have our footpath back and that it is officially recognised as a public highway,’ says Maggie. ‘Our hard work and persistence has paid off.’