Roadway plans overturned

A PROPOSAL to allow vehicular traffic to travel through one of Essex's most unspoilt areas of ancient woodland has been overturned after a public inquiry.

A PROPOSAL to allow vehicular traffic to travel through one of Essex's most unspoilt areas of ancient woodland has been overturned after a public inquiry.

Now trustees of Mark's Hall Estate, in Coggeshall, are celebrating after news an inspector declined to uphold a proposal by Essex County Council to turn sections of country footpath into highways.

The council decided the footpaths should be upgraded, opening them up to cars and motorcycles, after a review of rights-of-way in the area.

At the four day public inquiry held in Earls' Colne in March this year, council legal assistant Mary Morris said recently discovered evidence showed that vehicular rites existed along rights of way now designated as footpaths.


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She said one such "highway" along Thrift Lane, had been established by at least 1738 while another Long Chase, was a cartway from 1593.

Ms Morris argued that a fundamental legal rule "once a highway, always a highway" should apply.

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She added: "Carts have given way to motor vehicles so, as a matter of law, dedications for carts or carriages includes dedication for motor vehicles."

However, the inspector's report stated that documents after 1738 did not provide significant support of claims for a public right of way as opposed to a private one.

Richard Tattersall, agent to the Marks Hall Estate trustees, said the trust welcomed the news but added he felt the inquiry, which had cost the landowners involved around £20,000, should not have gone ahead in the first place.

"In this, the 10th anniversary year of the opening of Marks Hall to the public, it is a relief indeed that this devastating proposal has been so soundly rejected."

He added the trust would find it very difficult to absorb the cost of the investigation, and estimated that taxpayers would probably have to foot a similar bill to cover the council's action.

Nobody at the council was prepared to comment on the matter yesterday.

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