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Lookout path sold

PUBLISHED: 13:10 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:07 03 July 2010

THE debate over a fought-over former footpath has been revived by a council compulsory purchase order.

Five years ago campaigners were worried that a strip of land on the edge of Williamson's Lookout in High Road, Gorleston, and a lozenge-shaped area at the top were part of the public garden and that selling it to a developer threatened the landscape.

THE debate over a fought-over former footpath has been revived by a council compulsory purchase order.

Five years ago campaigners were worried that a strip of land on the edge of Williamson's Lookout in High Road, Gorleston, and a lozenge-shaped area at the top were part of the public garden and that selling it to a developer threatened the landscape.

Amid local opposition from heritage groups the borough council, it was understood, had decided not to sell the land, bequeathed to the borough in 1937 as one of the few spots to enjoy unbroken riverside views.

However, this week it emerged the council had not sold the land, also known as Koolunga Gardens, because it discovered it did not hold the title deeds and had been unable to find out who did.

Borough solicitor Chris Skinner confirmed the council was aiming to impose a compulsory purchase order on the 53.1sq m slice of land- a former footpath - so it can sell it to developer David Fish whose work converting old smoke houses there has won local praise.

Mr Skinner said: “The land in question is by the side of a public garden that is between the river and the high street. It was not involved in the bequest, it was just an odd bit of land that the developer wants to include within the cartilage. We thought it was owned by us but it was not within our title deeds.”

He said the strip had already been enclosed by a brick wall into Mr Fish's development and stressed that the sale in no way affected Williamson's Lookout.

The purchase order gives the council title and if a landowner comes forward at a later date they will be compensated.

Mr Fish of Scroby Fayre did not comment on the ownership issue, but said: “There is still a lot of work to do there but I think you will find we have done a pretty decent job. A lot of people in Gorleston have said what a good job we have done. I am trying to improve a conservation area and make something worthwhile happen. We are just trying to do a nice thing.”

Margaret Ward of Start, a heritage group which campaigned against the sale, said there were good arguments on both sides for selling the footpath for access to the development and keeping it for public use. She added that some people “felt quite strongly about it” but that it was the “lozenge” at the top that was most fiercely fought over and that was not included in the compulsory purchase.

The open space which slopes down from High road to Gorleston's riverside was bequeathed to the town in 1937 by Addison Williams in memory of her husband who enjoyed historic views of Nelson's Monument and the harbour. The controversy five years ago focussed on the principle of selling even a small slice of public land.

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