Quality Court pathway in Margate will reopen on or before July 30 following a mutual agreement between Thanet council and The Old Cottage Pub owner David Gorton.
The legal document was signed by both parties at Margate Magistrates’ Court on May 27.
The footpath, which links the Market Street car park to the High Street and runs alongside The Old Cottage pub, has been closed for some six years and has been the focus of contention during that time.
Mr Gorton says it was necessary for him to shut the route to carry out repair works after the path began to collapse into his pub cellar below. But wrangles with the council and a dispute with Margate Town Team and some of the town’s traders followed with tensions rising over the closure.
Legal proceedings over the debacle came before magistrates after Thanet council filed an application alleging that Mr Gorton had been obstructing the public highway.
Mr Gorton says the closure came after full consultation with the appropriate authorities and has had summonses issued to council staff, including top tier members, for his case at the court.
There are further issues due to the fact there is no recorded ownership for the pathway. Although Thanet council has said the path is a public right of way because it has been in use for more than 20 years the authority admits it is not officially designated as such despite an application being submitted in 2019.
Kent County Council also says the path is not currently recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement as a Public Right of Way. The path is not owned by Mr Gorton nor Thanet or Kent councils.
Some traders say the closure cuts footfall to the town and so impacts on businesses. There has been anger at the length of time it has been shut.
Mr Gorton says he has spent in excess of £143,000 and has taken on the repair work himself to ensure the path is safe to use, saying district and county councils declined to take responsibility.
The court agreement states Mr Gorton can resume work ‘as soon as possible’ although any works without planning permission would be at his own risk. A ‘formal’ council ‘requirement’ issued last month to halt works was changed to ‘advice’ in the legal document and Thanet council was due to confirm by yesterday (June 3) whether the new application can include ‘setts’ being laid up to the boundary of Market Street car park but with no claim of ownership to council land.
The agreement also says a new planning application will be made for the surface treatment, which the council must progress within the statutory timescale, and the footpath will re-open on or before July 30.
A statement from Thanet council says: “Mutual undertakings were given by the parties that allowed for the completion of the work, subject to a further planning application being made and approved in accordance with planning legislation.
“The substantive issue, as to the determination of the designation of the alleyway as a public right of way in accordance with the Highways Act, will be determined by the court at the adjourned hearing in November.”
Mr Gorton said he was in agreement with the above statement made by the council.
The case will return to court on November 11 and 15 when the public right of way issue will be determined.
6 year refurbishment… What’s that all about then.. Who is David Gorton.
When are they going to reopen Andrew’s Passage, the 19th Century footpath that connected the High Street and Albert Terrace? It has been “temporarily” closed since at least 2014.
Andrew’s Passage is a similar situation to Quality Court. Neither TDC or KCC own it. It is an inconvenience having this blocked off to many people who wish to go to and from the High Street and Albert Terrace especially they are disabled.
Do KCC and or TDC care. NO. why haven’t the agitators complained to TDC. This alleyway was used by the general public for over 40 years. Based upon the Courts ruling in November this could also be deemed a public Right of Way.
It already is a public Right of Way, and is certainly much older than 40-odd years. See links below:
Quality Court and Andrews Passage are two different alleyways.
Well Peter. I had only used Andrews Passage for 60 plus years before it was closed. If TDC/KCC keep it closed for 50 years or less it will no longer be classified as a public right of way. They will just brick up each entrance. If you had of walked through there before it was closed off it smelt like a public convenience without toilet paper either.
Rubbish. Once a path is on the Definitive Map (as Andrew’s Passage is) it is a public right of way forever. Legally, they can’t just “brick it up”. As for the smell and rubbish, by that definition half the roads and pavements in Cliftonville should be closed!
It is long before time the passage was reopened. It is a Public Right of Way and should not be allowed to close permanently.
How about diverting some money from The Margate Town Deal away from Dreamland and getting urgent issues such as this sorted out.
It’s a bloody disgrace Cllr Barry Lewis. Both of these alleys come under your area. Please deal with it. 7 years is way too long!
It was on the “short” list:
I agree totally though, why IS this being put on hold once again, when TDC/KCC have a legal duty to maintain public footpaths?
It already IS a Public Right of Way (Google it), and it dates back to at least Victorian times, possibly older.
That’s by sundowners isn’t it ! Been closed far too long !
That’s the one!
When is pigs Alley in ramsgate going to open again
Pig Alley will probably open when they can fly…
Who is David Gorton ? probably like a lot of them in thanet – they get a few quid and suddenly think they are local celebrities , a few names come to mind ?
Will KCC and or TDC now remove the bollard blocking the highway at the end of Quality Court to enable Mr Gorton to drop of and collect items for the businesses associated within the building. Previous occupiers of the cottage parked their vehicles there for 20 years without complaints or objections from the Public TDC KCC or the Police.
Look right… If you can’t get it open… The pub or the ginnel in 6 years you must be some sort of…
The people renovating The Cottage , are they the same couple that were on Homes under the hammer , when the pub was going to be a micro brewery too ?
probably hanging around waiting for a grant or two ?
How about a quality opening of Dane Park, perhaps we could urge the council to clean it up and employ a park keeper. The place is a complete disgrace bins full and overflowing weeds two foot high and paths crumbling. Surly if we had a keeper for the park he/ she would take a pride in the job.. All sorts could be achieved