Ramblers secure right of way case
A POPULAR walking spot in Godmanchester will be declared a public right of way after a landmark ruling in the House of Lords last week. Monks Pit, near Godmanchester Cricket Club, pictured, has been the subject of a legal wrangle with the landowners for m
A POPULAR walking spot in Godmanchester will be declared a public right of way after a landmark ruling in the House of Lords last week.
Monks Pit, near Godmanchester Cricket Club, pictured, has been the subject of a legal wrangle with the landowners for more than five years.
The pit, which covers an area of more than 14 acres, was formed in the 1970s with the construction of the A14, on land owned by Church of England land management group the Church Commissioners.
For a route to be declared a public right of way, it must be used regularly by the public for 20 years, without challenge from the land owner.
About five years ago, an inquiry decided that the Church Commissioners had, in fact, challenged the route being named a public right of way by writing a letter to highways officials.
Godmanchester Town Council approached the Ramblers' Association for help launching an appeal. The group took up the fight, hoping to use Monks Pit as a test case to define national policy.
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Following unsuccessful challenges in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal, the House of Lords overturned the decision last Wednesday.
The Lords ruled that the Church had not advertised its intention to block the land from becoming a public right of way clearly enough, and that its letter had not been sufficient.
Eugene Suggett, senior policy officer at The Ramblers' Association, said: "This is an important ruling that will have wide-ranging implications, both for the local community in Godmanchester and across the country.
"It has been a long struggle but we were always sure our fight would be vindicated."
The association expects to be reimbursed for its legal costs, which ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Godmanchester Town Council's contribution to the legal challenge is understood to have been small.
Bill Thompson, chairman of Huntingdonshire Ramblers, said: "The route is well-used by the people of Godmanchester and it has been a long saga to see it established as an official right of way."
Godmanchester Town Council was awaiting official confirmation of the ruling as The Hunts Post went to press. No one from the Church Commissioners was available for comment.