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JUDGE OKAYS FOOTPATH CONVERSION TO BRIDLEWAY

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case no: CO/3302/94 ...
case no: CO/3302/94

A Monmouth couple may have to sell up their Shire Horse breeding business after a high court judge opened the way for equestrians to ride 'slap-bang' across their land.

George and Linda Badman say the controversial up-grading of a footpath running close to their home to a bridleway may leave them with little choice but to pack up and move on.

But Mr Justice Brooke told London's high court yesterday that although the couple had his 'very great sympathy', there was nothing more he could do alleviate their plight.

There had been nothing unfair in an environment ministry planning inspector's 1994 decision to confirm the footpath's up-grade to a bridleway, the judge ruled.

'In my judgement there is no possible way in which I could hold that the principles of natural justice were denied to them'.

Outside court, Mrs Badman said the up-grading of the footpath would, 'literally put a roadway right through the middle of our farm.'

There was 'absolutely no way' that she and her husband would have bought Great Hillshone Farm, Lewstone, Ganarew, had they known that the path might become a bridleway.

'The footpath runs for 1,000 metres slap-bang through the middle of the farm. Before, it was just a path for ramblers.

'If horses are allowed, we could not go on with what we are doing. We will have to sell the property', she added.

Mr Justice Brooke told the court the Badmans had 'good reason to be concerned' about the footpaths' up-grading.

'They are livestock farmers and they carry on specialist Shire Horse breeding. They were unaware of any risk that the footpath across their property might be up-graded when they bought it in 1988.

'Quite apart from the damaging effect that the up-grading would have on their amenity and enjoyment of their dwelling, the implications for their horsebreeding would be extremely serious, given the potential for cross-infection.

'If the order remains in force, they face the alternatives of having to incur heavy expense in erecting fencing and gates to separate their stock, or of selling their farm and moving elsewhere.'

But the judge rejected claims that the couple had been denied a fair hearing at a 1994 public inquiry at the end of which the presiding planning inspector upheld Hereford and Worcester CC's decision to up-grade the footpath.

'In my judgment nothing unfair occurred', he said.

The inspector had been entitled to come to the view that, although the track was shown as a footpath on the area's 'definitive map', it had in fact been used as a bridleway for at least 20 years.

Dismissing the Badmans' judicial review challenge, the judge concluded: 'I have very great sympathy for them, but I do not consider that they have shown good grounds for having the order quashed.'

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