Kate Ashbrook: inspector's decision was rightWalkers in Sussex are celebrating after an inspector turned down demands to divert public paths at a stately home.

The Hon Charles Pearson, owner of the Pitshill House, and half brother of Lord Cowdray, had wanted to move a public bridleway away from the dilapidated Georgian mansion. A Government inspector said no to the plans.

Kate Ashbrook: inspector's decision was right 

West Sussex County Council originally rejected proposals to move the right of way, but Chichester District Council published orders to move the path in August last year. The county council, which is the highway authority for the estate, and the Ramblers’ Association both objected to the diversion.

A four-day public inquiry was held last month to consider the plans. Now inspector Peter Millman has rejected the move. The Open Spaces Society, which also campaigns for access and protection of rights of way, and which lodged its own objections, applauded the decision.

The society’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “This is an excellent decision and shows that we were right to oppose the plans to shove walkers and riders away from Pitshill. We call Mr Pearson ‘Privacy Pearson’ because he seems to be obsessed with moving the public away from his house, despite the fact that the path is separated from the property by a high wall. He even placed advertisements in the local papers last January to drum up support for his case.

“Mr Pearson bought the property about ten years ago, knowing the paths were there, but he claims he cannot renovate it until the paths are moved. We hope he will now face reality and repair this magnificent mansion.

‘We congratulate the West Sussex County Council and the Ramblers’ Association on presenting an excellent case to the inquiry and are grateful to the many individuals who also objected.”

Pitshill is a Grade II* Listed Building north of the village of Tillington. Mr Pearson had claimed that the proposed rerouting of the right of way would ‘dramatically increase the safety, convenience and enjoyment for all parties.”

The Hon Charles Pearson is the son of the Third Viscount Cowdray, Weetman John Churchill Pearson and his second wife Elizabeth Mather-Jackson. The family controlled the Pearson media empire, publishers of The Financial Times. It also set up Cowdray Park polo club.

Ms Ashbrook said the inspector’s report concluded that if the paths were moved, there would be a significant loss of views, especially of the historic house in its parkland setting. The new paths would also provide a steeper gradient for walkers.