Parish council joins opposition to public right of way bid through Belford Hall estate grounds

Public footpath.Public footpath.
Public footpath. | JPIMedia Resell
A bid to have a route through the Belford Hall estate declared a public right of way has met with stiff opposition.

A number of residents of Belford Hall and nearby Home Farm attended a meeting of Belford Parish Council to voice their concerns about the application.

Last month, it was revealed that 19 local residents had supported an application to Northumberland County Council seeking the formation of a public right of way from South Road, over McLaren Drive and to the west and north of Belford Hall then continuing to the west of Home Farm Cottages to Cragmill Road.

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At that point, parish councillors agreed to send in a statement that the route had been used by members of the public for more than 20 years.

However, the parish council has now changed tack following fresh evidence from local residents.

Stephen Corpe, who has lived at Belford Hall for 22 years, said: “It wasn’t possible to enjoy that right of access from one end to the other because the gate halfway along was locked for a significant length of time so the 20 years can’t be proved. No visitor could have failed to see the five or six private signs along the route.”

Home Farm resident Dr Saul Miller added: “We think this is a groundless application to create a new public right of way where none has ever existed.

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“I don’t think anyone would agree to a right of way being established through someone’s garden.”

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, parish council chairman, pointed out that the council had not expressed support for the application.

“In hindsight we perhaps should have said nothing,” he said.

Coun Julian Cullingham: “There are two sets of evidence here so I don’t think we are in a position to support it.”

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Coun Kerry Noble added: “It seems that the case that it’s been used by residents for over 20 years isn’t proven and therefore I feel we can’t support it.

“With the evidence we’ve been given I think we should revise our position and propose that we support the residents of the hall and Home Farm and object to it.”

This was agreed by the parish council.