Privacy trumps ramblers’ rights

Posted: 12th November 2012

Home owners who succeeded in having a centuries-old footpath diverted away from their front door are celebrating a court ruling upholding the decision. Michael and Susan Weston had argued that the footpath ran extremely close to their property and that their privacy was invaded by walkers using it.

Public Footpath 2They won an order from Oxfordshire County Council, subsequently confirmed by a government planning inspector, diverting the path, which runs between Bodicote and Bloxham, in Oxfordshire. A High Court judge has now dismissed a challenge to the inspector’s decision brought by rights of way campaigners, the Ramblers Association, saying that he made no error of law.

The inspector had concluded that, while the diversion would have a ‘small negative effect’ on the public's enjoyment of the right of way, it would have a ‘significant positive effect’ on the Westons’ private lives.

The association argued that the inspector had failed to take the public interest adequately into account and had wrongly excluded as ‘not relevant’ the fact that the Westons knew about the existence of the path when they bought their property. It was also argued that the decision would set a potentially damaging precedent.

Speaking after the case, an association spokesperson said: ‘The Ramblers, the Parish Council and many individuals hoped to see this picturesque route saved and it is a real disappointment that this historic path will be lost.'