Legal challenge over riverside footpath is finally resolved
- Credit: Julie Young/Liz Coates
A stretch of riverside footpath has been saved as a right of way and will appear on official maps thanks to a two-and-a-half year campaign.
The path from West Caister to Great Yarmouth along the River Bure was a well-worn route that everyone assumed was "official" until a developer applied to build homes and gardens across it.
Mike Sedgwick, who lives nearby in River Walk, did some digging and was appalled to discover there was no legal protection for the path, little realising that getting it registered would be a long and frustrating process that involved collecting over 100 statements of use.
Although the then landowner soon accepted the path was there the 54-year-old headhunter decided to make sure it could never be taken away.
"People have been using this footpath for decades and assumed it was a public footpath but it was never registered," he said.
"I am so grateful for the perseverance and patience of everyone involved.
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"It has been an interesting journey, particularly finding out how long these things take.
"The good news is that we have something we did not have before that can never be taken away."
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Mr Sedgwick collected written evidence from over 100 people, creating a case that was indisputable.
However, more legal work was needed over the Great Yarmouth Borough Council-owned stretch of the path causing further delays.
"It is the missing link" Mr Sedgwick added.
"You can now walk from Great Yarmouth to Stokesby Ferry pub, people have been doing it for years, but now it will be on the map.
"The real satisfaction is that it cannot now be disputed.
"There are not many stretches of the river that you can now walk along that are not interrupted by buildings.
"It cannot now be built across. Conceivably the builder could have carried on with his plan had it not been disclosed.
"What put fire in my belly originally was the idea the landowner could stop us using the path and that feeling of anger and frustration was shared by lots and lots of people."
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said Mr Sedgwick’s application in 2018 was the catalyst for getting the riverside path legally recorded.
"It can now be said that it is formally a public footpath. The definitive map will be updated shortly and the route will formally be known as Great Yarmouth Footpath No. 11," she added.