Dog walkers could lose path they used for decades

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential garden. Picture: Val Leivers - Credit: Archant

A community of walkers could lose the ground they have been walking on for years.

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential garden. Picture: Val Leivers - Credit: Archant

Walkers in Downham Market have objected to a planning application to the West Norfolk council for 6 and 7 Burdock Close to retrospectively change the use of an open plan garden to an enclosed residential garden land.

The ground behind the houses leads to Greenwich Close and London Road, which walkers use to get to Denver crossing over the junction at the A1122 bypass.

The land is privately owned by the applicant, who has put up fences to stop people from walking across it.

Dog walkers have used it for more than 15 years and have objected to the plans made to West Norfolk council.

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential

Walkers have objected to fences being put up and plans to change the land to an enclosed residential garden. Picture: Val Leivers - Credit: Archant

Val Leivers, who has used it for six years, said: "If you allow this permission, how many green spaces are going to be grabbed? Other bungalows in the area may follow.

"I have been walking my dog down the path four times a day for about six years and have stopped walking there since the fence was put up.

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"It's a problem as people are having to walk along the ditch on a 60mph road."

Nine objections to the planning application were made online on the council's website.

Among those objecting is the Downham Market town council, which said: "The town council will not support any application that involves the loss of public amenity areas and in this particular case, the curtailment of a mature, green landscape belt enjoyed by many of the townsfolk during the past 15 years."

Walkers are hoping to apply to get the land listed as a public footpath.

Mike Hastings, the applicants agent, said: "The applicants own the land so it is quite within their rights to put a fence up. No-one can make them take that down. If anyone is to blame it is the original owners.

"It's a shame it's come to this, they don't need to walk the whole 5 metres of the garden. It is easily resolved if they walk along the back of the fence."

In the planning statement, Mr Hastings said: "Unfortunately, the land has been illegally used by dog walkers, who were actually trespassing, probably without knowing it.

"Enclosing the land will hopefully prevent the littering and dog fouling which has become a problem for the land owners."

The planning application has been called in and the borough's planning committee will come to a decision on Monday, September 2.

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