Neighbourhood at war ... over a footpath that has been fenced off

DM16148238a.jpg. David and Amanda Pilbeam (right), and neighbours, beside blocked path in Horsham which they are battling to get re-opened. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161110-140502008

DM16148238a.jpg. David and Amanda Pilbeam (right), and neighbours, beside blocked path in Horsham which they are battling to get re-opened. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-161110-140502008

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A wrangle over the use of a footpath on a local housing estate has led to a neighbourhood at war.

One group of angry residents want the footpath re-opened after it was closed earlier this year - and another group want it kept firmly shut.

Now campaigners in favour of re-opening the path - between Coney Croft and a path between Crawley Road and Coppice Road, Horsham - are calling on West Sussex County Council to designate it as an official public footpath and include it on a definitive map.

But other neighbours say the footpath is in a high crime area and they want it to remain closed to protect their properties.

David Pilbeam, who lives in Coney Croft, said: “The footpath has been used for the past 40 years since the houses here were first built. People use it all the time to get to the local church and as a shortcut to the shops.”He said the trouble started in January when a neighbour first fenced off the path while building works were going on nearby. Now, says David, the works have finished but the path remains fenced.

David said he had been advised by the county council to erect notices in the area to notify people that an application had been made to the council for the footpath to be included in a definitive map. “I’ve been putting up the notices every day since October 1 - and every day they have been torn down,” he said.

Mark Haydon, who also lives in Coney Croft said the neighbourhood was a high crime area where there had been a number of break-ins - which had stopped since the path had been fenced off.

He said the path had never been a ‘right of way’ and was private property.

It was the police, he said, who recommended fencing off the area after a series of burglaries and thefts. “It was an easy route for nasty individuals to get in and out,” he said.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “Residents looking to add a footpath to a definitive map must submit an application for a Definitive Map Modification Order.

“An application must be supported by evidence, to show that it has been used by members of the public for a period of 20 years or more, or using historical mapping evidence. After this, there are legal and administrative procedures involved in the determination of a DMMO and all interested parties are given the opportunity to bring forward their evidence either in support or to rebut an application.”