Popular Long Beach footpath in Winterton could be closed for three more years

Winterton Dunes. Picture: James Bass

Winterton Dunes. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2015

A footpath which has been closed for nearly two years could take up to three years to reopen.

The route which could take three years to be designated as a public right of way. Photo: Google Eart

The route which could take three years to be designated as a public right of way. Photo: Google Earth - Credit: Archant

In May 2015 a path leading to Winterton's dunes closed after landowners discovered it was part of their property, opening them up to legal costs if someone was injured along the route.

Now the process to get it designated as a public footpath is underway, but could face delays if a decision is referred to planning inspectors.

The narrow path at the end of Bush Road, known locally as the Long Beach footpath, was used by residents and holidaymakers alike as a shortcut between Winterton Valley Estate and the Long Beach Estate for decades.

MORE: Well-used Winterton footpath is closedIt was fenced off after the new owners of the adjoining property discovered it was legally part of their garden and keeping it open put them at serious risk of being sued if anyone was injured.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said an application to designate the route a public right of way was received at the end of 2015. However, the original application required further correspondence with users and the applicant to establish the whole route that was being applied for, so the application was not formally registered until May 2016.

The proposals are currently in the consultation stage where the County Council consults with user groups, statutory consultees and landowners.

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The spokesman said: 'We have had a good number of responses from landowners already, particularly the owners near the obstruction, but as there are a significant number of owners, around 70, I am still awaiting some responses.

'After consultation we will carry out our own research before we can come to a decision which could, of course, go either way.'

A decision is therefore still some months away, and even following a decision, there is the potential for objections which may lead to the application being referred to the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State which would further delay any conclusion.

The spokesman continued: 'We can never be certain how long an application will take to resolve as it will depend on the particular complexities of the application as well as how much consensus there is on the decision we come to, however, it is not uncommon for cases to take two or even three years to completely conclude.'

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