Inspector sides with residents in Knowle footpath battle

Angry Sidmouth residents gathered at Knowle Gardens after seeing their application for public footpa

Angry Sidmouth residents gathered at Knowle Gardens after seeing their application for public footpaths rejected. That decision was overturned this week. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 5623-26-13AW - Credit: Archant

CAMPAIGNERS are claiming victory in a battle to have footpaths at Knowle formally recognised as public rights of way – after a decision to flatly refuse their bid was overturned.

Campaigners now want these conrtversial signs taken down

Campaigners now want these conrtversial signs taken down - Credit: Archant

Residents asked for the designation to safeguard the site’s parkland and gardens from developers as East Devon District Council (EDDC) looks to relocate.

Devon County Council (DCC) rejected their pleas in June but a planning inspector this week sided with residents over a pair of the routes after they lodged an appeal.

Protesters now want ‘provocative’ signs erected at EDDC’s HQ – which state the land is its property – to be taken down.

The authority has in turn said the ‘complex’ matter is not as clear cut and could itself now lodge an appeal.

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Knowle Residents’ Association members wanted a host of paths to be legally recognised as public rights of way as they have been used by the community for more than 20 years.

EDDC opposed the bid but planning inspector Sue Arnott ruled that two routes - one leading along the drive to the council’s offices from near Balfour Lodge in Station Road, and a second from the upper end of Knowle Drive - should be recognised as public.

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She said other routes were on land that had been formally declared as public open space - and their use was ‘sufficient to raise a presumption of dedication’.

A ‘delighted’ Knowle Residents’ Association spokesperson said: “We sincerely hope that EDDC will now remove itssigns which suddenly appeared following our application and which are unnecessary, provocative and deter local residents and visitors from enjoying the public park and gardens”.

A DCC spokesman said: “The Planning Inspectorate has allowed the appeal in part. We have been directed to record footpaths on the routes leading to the open space in the grounds of the Knowle, but not on the open space itself, where there is already public access.

“This decision will need approval from our public rights of way committee in February.”

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