Battle for footpath

A BID to create a length of official public footpath on land owned by Ardingly College since 1864 has succeeded at a County Hall meeting.

The proposal was opposed by the school, which said it had a number of public rights of way crossing its land, and often had issues with members of the public straying off them and on to school land. An extra path would exacerbate this situation, and further jeopardise school security.

The application, submitted by David Fulton, and supported by evidence from 20 witnesses, sought to add the path to the official network. And the county council’s rights of way committee agreed that it should be approved.

An officer report said the school, as landowner, had submitted evidence against the application testifying that use could not have been ‘as of right’ during the relevant period.

“As the evidence submitted by the landowner directly conflicts with the evidence of use submitted, it is  considered that the evidence of use is not outweighed by the evidence against the claim, and that the applicant has reasonably alleged the existence of the claimed path,” it added.

Bursar Paddy Jackman said the parish council had stated the land had been maintained regularly in the past, and used for football and cross country, with notices saying private land. But statements by members of Ardingly College staff supported the fact that over a 20-year period the area had been used for a pitch and putt golf course and a football pitch. He said there was no evidence whatsoever of a footpath across the field.

But Alan Smith, who previously taught at the school and lives in the area, said the field had been in use by the public for years.