Snettisham Beach property owners tell inquiry: ‘There was never a footpath past our homes.’

More than 1,000 supporters turned out for a walk along the disputed route last month. Picture: Chris Bishop More than 1,000 supporters turned out for a walk along the disputed route last month. Picture: Chris Bishop

Friday, June 13, 2014
4:30 PM

A government planning inspector has been called in to rule on the disputed route across the beach at Snettisham. The inquiry has been sitting since Tuesday, at the village’s Memorial Hall.

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Villagers have been giving evidence to the inspector, saying they have used the route along the top of the beach as a path for years.

But property owner John Jenkins, who had beeen visiting the area since 1975, said: “There were always notices around the beach properties that made it obvious that this was private property and one clearly shouldn’t walk there.”

Mr Jenkins said families would put tables and chairs along the claimed route and use the area for games and barbecues.

Tim Gregory, from East Rudham, said his grandfather Percy Goodchild bought a bungalow by the beach in 1946. He said his family had suffered “abuse” such as people peering through their windows.

He said his late mother stretched a chain across part of the route she maintained was her property in the early 1970s, with a private sign.

“My mother was quite a feisty lady,” he said. “She lived on the beach in the summer months and she was vociferous in her outlook and her attitude about the bungalow.”

Steve Chapman, whose family bought property on the beach in the early 1930s, said “a unique community” grew up at Snettisham.

“My family has a long association with Snettisham Beach, this includes ownershiop of various properties since 1930,” he said. “At no time have any of my family been aware of any public footpath.”

Peter Millman, the government inspector overseeing the inquiry, said there would be a site visit on Monday afternoon. Representatives from both sides will be accompanying him on a tour of the route, to point out salient features. Closing submissions are expected to be heard on Tuesday.

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