Instow pavement puzzle causes ‘a fence’

Blocked seafront pavement reveals legal wrangle between county council and Christies.

A dispute over who owns a strip of Marine Parade at Instow has led to fencing being erected to block off the pavement – but only for 24 hours.

Residents were shocked on Friday to find steel fencing had been put up along the entire stretch of seaward pavement opposite John’s Supermarket.

The fence has now been removed, but a notice on it had use of the land was at the discretion of Christie Estates Trust and it was not a public right of way.

County Councillor Rodney Cann said it was a public highway and no one, not even the council, could block it off without a closure order.

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“The days of acting like a feudal landlord and just shutting off the public highway are long gone,” he said.

He said county sources had told him the Environment Agency had confirmed it owned the land on which the footpath sits.

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But Raymond Coldwell of Christie Estates disputes this. He said the estate owns the land and the pavement had been constructed by the council without following the formal process.

“We have notified county on numerous occasions that there is an ambiguity here that has to be rectified,” he said.

“I have invited them to come here and look at the deeds so they can quite clearly see what land was conveyed.”

Closing off an area for a specific period of time prevents the “continuous use” necessary for it to become a public right of way.

Mr Cann said the council’s solicitors would be contacting Christie Estates.

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