Portsmouth Camber saga continues as city council objects to its own order to grant a right of way

THE long-running battle for a public right of way at the Camber will continue after Portsmouth council confirmed it would object to its own order.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 10:50 am
Camber right of way campaigners Ken Bailey and Anna Koor

Campaigners have been fighting for five years for the route around the Camber Dock at Old Portsmouth to be included in the city's definitive map as a restricted byway, and branded the decision 'disappointing.'

Following the construction of the £12m Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) headquarters, which started in 2014, there has been conflict over the legal standing of the public's right to walk around the 575 metre perimeter of the dock.

But after a government planning inspector ruling last year Portsmouth City Council was forced to make an order to make the path a restricted byway on February 21 this year.

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Building work beginning at the Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters on the Camber in Old Portsmouth 'Picture: Shaun Roster at www.shaunroster.com

However, the council has said it will challenge the order - further delaying a decision.

Michael Lawther, the council's city solicitor, explained why. He said: 'The order provides the formal framework for the alleged right of way - class of use (foot, horseback, non-mechanically propelled vehicle), width and route.

'The council believes firstly that use by non-mechanically propelled vehicles and horses cannot be demonstrated, and secondly that the statutory allocation of the land as port land means that rights of way cannot be recognised at the Camber in any case.'

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Explained – the long fight for a right of way at the Camber

Anna Koor, has been lobbying for the right of way since 2014. She said: 'Considering the overwhelming public response to the application and the community support we have had it is frustrating.

'We are doing this so that we can continue to enjoy the Camber the way we have done for decades.

'I would definitely urge anyone, in particular people who use the route, to express their support for it.'

She was backed by Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society.  'We think the campaigners have got a good case,' she said.

'It's important that all public highways are recorded on the official maps firstly because in 2026 policy will change so that rights of way can no longer be added to definitive maps based on historic use of the routes.

'Secondly if routes are not shown on definitive maps then no one knows they are there and they get built on and destroyed.'

Campaigner Ken Bailey added: 'It has taken years to get to this point and now it's going to take an extra five or six months which is disappointing. The delay is bad enough but it's worse that they have decided to do this when the secretary of state has already said there's a reasonable case.'

Any representation or objection relating to the order must be sent in writing to Michael Lawther, City Solicitor at the Portsmouth City Council civic offices in Guildhall Square by April 12.

Any representations will be put to the planning inspectorate to consider at a public inquiry before the right of way can be confirmed or rejected.