'People power' helps campaigners win fight over golf course access

PUBLISHED: 11:55 01 February 2018

In November 2016, about 200 people marched to show how much they value the golf course.

In November 2016, about 200 people marched to show how much they value the golf course.

Archant

The 'tireless' efforts of campaigners look set to pay off after bids to get footpaths across Portishead Golf Course granted legal status took a significant step forward.

Volunteers say ‘people power’ has won out, with the Nore Road site set to remain open to walkers.

The golf course, which is leased out by North Somerset Council, is a popular area for hikers and dog walkers to enjoy the fresh air off the coast, while also making most of the town’s greenery.

But fears over access being restricted have grown in recent years, prompting walkers to act.

Applications for commonly-used routes to be legally accepted as public rights of way were made in 2013 and 2015 and were debated by the council on January 24.

Applications can take 20 years to be determined but in 2016 the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ordered the council to make a ruling inside two years.

A committee hearing at Weston Town Hall was presented with evidence showing the pathways had been used for decades.

Dozens of people provided testimonies about how long they had used the two routes – one running along the coast and the other to there from Nore Road.

Several of the participants said they had used the routes since the 1940s.

Councillors on the public rights of away sub-committee voted in favour of adopting the paths.

Ann Townsend, who has been one of the most vociferous supporters of maintaining access along the golf course, is hopeful the order is completed soon.

She said: “We are delighted with the outcome from the sub-committee meeting.

“Local residents, all volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide North Somerset Council with the evidence required to officially recognise two primary footpaths on the land known as Portishead golf course.

“It follows four years of hard work to gather evidence, challenge proposed developments, and gain support of the community.

“We now have to await the final order to be made and if successful, the footpaths will be secured for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors alike on this very scenic public open space.

“People power has prevailed, and this is a further example of the importance of never giving up on something you believe in.”

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