Decision welcomed by East Devon District Council

Moves to register public footpaths across the grounds of East Devon District Council’s headquarters at the Knowle in Sidmouth, have been rejected by a government-appointed inspector.

The decision has been welcomed by the council and follows a protracted legal process stretching back more than three years.

Two applications were made in 2012 by local residents to register a number of footpaths across parts of the Knowle under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Devon County Council, who is responsible for public rights of way, rejected the applications but an appeal was made to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision.

After various legal appeal processes, Martin Elliott, the inspector, has agreed with the district council that no order should be made to dedicate any of the claimed routes as public rights of way. This was on the basis that their use was ‘by right’ as the use of the whole of the Knowle is regulated by byelaws.

Mark Williams, Chief Executive of East Devon District Council, said:

Given the criticism the council was subject to following the initial appeal decision, the council is pleased that its position on this matter has been vindicated following the determination by the inspector.

Whilst I fully understand the sensitivity of the matter the fact remains that public access to the Knowle pleasure grounds is by virtue of the byelaws rather than acquired legal rights.