Footpath campaigners say developers must rip up the foundations of a house which have been laid across a right-of-way.
The footpath at Basingstoke
The site, at Basingstoke, Hampshire, is on the path from Buckskin to Worting, and members of the Open Spaces Society (OSS) have expressed outrage that developers have blocked the path with fencing and destroyed the surface of the route.
The housing development is at Old Kempshott Lane, on the town’s western side.
Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the OSS, said: “It is outrageous that the developers, Barratt and Persimmon Homes, should be building a house on top of this public footpath.
“They must have known the path was there. Persimmon Homes hopes to sell this house, but clearly the foundations must be removed at once, and the path surface reinstated.”
Dave Ramm, a local member of the society, said: “I have reported this blunder to the county and district councils, who have a duty to take swift action to ensure the developers restore the route.
“It is now illegally obstructed by fencing and its surface has been destroyed. We are grateful to the vigilant local residents for alerting us to this terrible mistake.”
Meanwhile, the OSS is following in Wolfie Smith’s footsteps and demanding freedom for Tooting, or at least, Tooting Bec Common, where the local council wants to fence the land and put up floodlights for football pitches.
The society says this means the common will no longer be accessible to the public, and a land swap with a local recreation ground is a non-starter, because it is already a public open space.
Ms Ashbrook said: “We said that we strongly oppose the use of Tooting Bec Common for football pitches, which will be fenced and therefore not accessible to the public.
“They will both suburbanise the common and reduce people’s freedom to enjoy this wonderful oasis.
“The council is proposing to swap part of the common for the Woodfield recreation ground. We have pointed out that this is not a fair exchange since the recreation ground is already used as a public open space.
“We have reminded the council that this ‘exchange’ would require the Secretary of State’s consent under the Greater London Open Spaces Act 1967.
“We believe [he] would be unlikely to grant consent when the recreation ground is already accessible to the public.
“We shall help local campaigners to fight the scheme, and shall ensure that the council follows the proper legal processes.”
And, in a busy week for the OSS, it is backing residents in a Lancashire village fighting to register open space as a village green.
The area south of Booth Road in Waterfoot, Rossendale, is under threat of development as the site for a replacement primary school for the community. Registration as a village green would give the land legal protection from being built upon.
Nicola Hodgson, the OSS case officer, said: “This green space is valuable to the local community for informal recreation. It commands impressive views across to the surrounding hills. People visit it for quiet recreation.
“We sincerely hope that the Residents’ Association succeeds in its efforts to get the land registered as a green, and thus secured, for local people to enjoy, for ever.”
Land can be registered as a town or village green if it has been used by local people for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’ – informal recreation – for 20 years, freely and openly. Once registered, the land gains legal protection from encroachment and development.