Horsted Keynes footpath stays on track after four year wrangle

Horsted Keynes Church
Horsted Keynes Church

Britain’s oldest conservation body The Open Spaces Society has registered its delight that a popular foot path at Horsted Keynes has been saved on its existing route.

West Sussex County Council had backed landowner Miss Wykeham-Martin in her application to move the footpath, number 8/1, which runs across three fields at Lucas Farm to the edge of two of them.

However, after objections from Horsted Keynes Parish Council, the Ramblers, four local residents, as well as the Open Spaces Society, the case was referred to the Planning Inspectorate and a public inquiry was held last year.

The inspector, Susan Doran, has now ruled that the path should not be moved.

Chair of the parish council Jim Brimfield, who gave evidence at the two-day inquiry, told the Mid Sussex Times: “I am pleased at the outcome for the benefit of the walkers.”

However, the 77 year old former Post Master who still lives at post office on The Green, Horsted-Keynes, also urged walkers to ‘follow the rules’ to ameliorate concerns raised by the landowner.

He said: “I have some sympathies with Miss Wykeham-Martin and I really do hope that walkers and especially dog-walkers will note the problems that she has faced from time to time, such as sheep worrying, and that they observe the rules, keep to the path, and keep dogs under control.”

At the inquiry Ms Wykeham-Martin had cited problems of users straying from the official line of the path, loose dogs, littering, damage of hay crops and disturbance to livestock.

Objectors argued that the existing route provided rare distant vistas, with unbroken views across the Weald, its tree-clad hills and church spires.

The diversion would have created a dog-leg with a confined, fenced-in section.

The Open Spaces Society’s local correspondent for Mid Sussex, Paul Brown, who represented the society at the public inquiry: “The existing public right of way has a delightful open aspect across the fields.

“The dog-legs and blind corners that would have been introduced by the field-edge diversion were unnecessary, unnatural, ill-defined and unwanted.

“They introduce loss of sight-lines, which would have degraded the enjoyment of the existing right of way.’

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