Margate footpath finally reopens after six year closure

The footpath is open

Quality Court pathway in Margate has finally reopened after being shut to the public for some six years.

The pathway, which links the Market Street car park to the High Street and runs alongside The Old Cottage pub, has been a source of contention with heated posts on social media from Margate Town Team and from Old Cottage pub owner David Gorton.

The opening date of July 30 was finally announced following a mutual agreement between Thanet council and Mr Gorton. The legal document was signed by both parties at Margate Magistrates’ Court on May 27.

Some traders in the town expressed anger that the pathway was unavailable to the public, saying it had an impact on footfall in the lower half of the high street.

Mr Gorton said 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.

Mr Gorton says he spent in excess of £143,000 on the repair work

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 authorities and 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.

The court case will resume on November 11 and 15 when the public right of way issue will be determined.

Mr Gorton bought the pub when it appeared at auction on Homes Under the Hammer in 2010, paying £90,000 for the Grade II property.

The site has been undergoing refurbishment but a social media post on The Old Cottage Pub facebook page in June said Mr Gorton intended to shut down the project due to the ‘exhaustion’ of trying to satisfy Thanet council and incidents of deliberate damage at his site.

The post added: “My decision is that The Old Cottage pub will now remain closed, indefinitely, until and unless TDC is replaced by an alternative authority or, a responsible committee or alternative appeal authority is identified to address Thanet District Council’s obstructions and continuing failure to comply with the Statutory Law in planning timescales. Until then, The Old Cottage Pub will not be sold but will now be land banked.“

29 Comments

  1. It is a Public Right of Way.

    He could have relinquished his cellars beneath the path if he did not want to pay for the structural work.

    I am delighted that it is open again.

    I hope that it is going to be well-lit at night.

      • Of course, it is a public right of way, ownership has still to be established and that doesn’t detract from the accessibility. Many public rights of way were not designated. Indeed it is only in recent decades that the register has been updated by the Local Authority.

        Mr Gorton appears to have been hoping that by keeping it closed he would change the public access aspect.

        And “R”, your list of what-ifs no doubt will be addressed. It’s not rocket science that’s for sure.

          • I am sure everyone over at least the last 3 decades and the previous owners will be very happy to confirm that it has been used as a PRW. If it isn’t already logged, presentation must be made to ensure that it is!

    • I always welcome comments. It helps understanding what is not understood. I do try not to use the word “stupid2, because everyone is entitled to an opinion. In your case “Clare” I am trying very hard. You make several points and I am happy to respond.
      1) How do you know its a right of way when two entire legal teams and a court of law are necessary to answer very detailed matters of law in order to determine that question?
      2) Ownership is not relevant.
      3) It would have been expected that TDC registered the path by “designation” when it recognised and used its location of central importance, in the planning stages as a main car park to serve the foot fall for the Turner Contemporary Gallery. It did not. Without consideration of the facts and even some basic knowledge of them, your comments are I regret to have to say, impotent and irrelevant.
      3) An “excuse” for closing any right of way (if determined) is very relevant. I.E; structural engineers reports of impending collapse and public safety.
      4) This one is very interesting; and I will quote you for clarity…..”Mr Gorton appears to have been hoping that by keeping it closed he would change the public access aspect.”. The transparency of your own uncertainty expressed here lays your vexed spirit bare. You simply made that up yourself, because what possible motive could I have for what you say, when the only way into the pub for public access is the footpath you are saying “he would change the public access aspect.”. Madam, at this point I give up the struggle and respectful to you right to opinion, I must say, your remarks are ill-conceived and indeed, I regret to have to address reality; “stupid”. From this point and level, I’m afraid I will not be able to assist your understanding further and I will not attempt to respond as I am not qualified and don’t know how to help your thought process. However, I do hope something here helped your mindset. I will simply wish you well with your beliefs and trust that not everybody is so confused on a subject they comment on and declare facts about.
      Kind regards. David Gorton Owner of The Old Cottage Pub
      (The subject you wrongfully defame and accuse and whom of course, has the right to respond and correct you)

      • Correct me according to your own narrative by all means.

        Your motivations are rightly open to opinion and your attitude to keep the property as a land banked entity appears offensive and belligerent and will continue to affect many in this community.

        There is a history here in Thanet of property owners who don’t get their way with TDC burning their property. Buy and burn as it is known. I hope your protracted legal battle does not end up like this. The residents in this area have suffered much at the hands of enterprising property owners. I hope you think about the bigger picture.

        • I note that your plans have the old access door bricked up and the plans clearly refer to a footpath – not a private alley.

          On maps, over the last century, this “footpath has to be accessed by the public from both sides both to use the pub and as a thoroughfare.

          I hope you get well soon.

  2. Not before time the footpath is classed as an open space should never have been closed as some business owners including developers try this stunt and cost them lots of money. I suggest TDC and KCC work with the open spaces society.

    • And I sir, suggest you think before posting.
      How should it have been repaired then, pray do tell? Sky hooks?
      I am struggling again not to use the word “Stupid”. Please forgive, but really!
      Best regards,
      David Gorton

    • Please don’t trouble yourself Paul. I do appreciate that complex matters can only be understood by some, by reducing it to pointless banal comments, but you are also far off the mark if you are trying to be offensive towards me.
      My decision making is based on commercial reasoning only and other matters you clearly have no ability to identify or understand so please, why bother?
      I only have one pare of hands. I am needed elsewhere on another major project so it is perfect timing for me to allow TDC and the effluxion of time to work in the interests of the welfare of my family. Thank you for your concern Paul, but if you understood what was really going on, you would realise that as comments go; I’m afraid the most appropriate response to yours is; “stupid” “unnecessarily personal” and “thoughtless”, which all qualify for yours. I appreciate it is a complex matter but thank you for effort at an opinion and expressing an interest. I respectfully suggest you apply it to your own looking inwardly.
      Kind regards,
      David Gorton

      • Mr Gorton – I doubt very few people commenting on this site have ever run their own business or generated employment and faced problems, that sometimes rear up, head on. I wish you well and appreciate your responses to some of posters. Sometimes words fail me with some of these people.

    • Andrew’s passage, just a little further up the High St is definitely a Public Right of Way and should have been repaired and re-opened many years ago. Why is KCC keeping it closed, is that legal? It is even more useful than the unadopted passage mentioned in the story.

      • 7 years ago KCC said they were contacting the owners of the properties under the path to get repairs done so they could open the passage again, and if that fails then legal proceeding could ensue. Does anyone know what happened, and why it’s still closed off?

  3. Comments on the above Statements.

    1) He did not say he did not want to pay for the repairs and reinstatement
    2) Why should he loose access and use of his cellar
    3) If the structure ha collapsed who would be responsible for its reinstatement. ?
    4) Who will be responsible for the lighting. Not TDC not KCC not the owner of the Cottage. Perhaps the open Space Society. Who’s property will the light be fixed to.
    5) If classified as open space who is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. Obviously not TDC or KCC. As it is not their land.
    6) The owner of the Cottage has no been fined or arrested. However, due to the latest incident we wait and see what action the Police take against certain people.
    7) Neither TDC or KCC admit to owning Andrews Passage. If it is another “Open Space” who is responsible for its maintenance, upkeep and liable for compensation if an accident or injury occur

    • It is up to KCC to ensure that any designated public footpaths in Kent are kept open. It makes no difference who owns the ground they are on.

    • “R” Whoever you are, I am most grateful for your unsolicited, applied wisdom expressed here.
      Correct, reasoned and a much appreciated saving of my time, trying to answer opinions from people who don’t understand what an arrestable offence is! and what is not. I was about to give up with some opinions. Mind bogglingly, incomprehensible nonsense from some “fact claimers”.
      Thank you.
      Please feel free to send me a private message some time on my “Facebook” site.
      Kind regards,

      David Gorton The Old Cottage Pub (Owner)

  4. will be interesting to see what happens if there is an injury incident in the alley, has “Open Spaces got an insurance in place to cover them if this happens??? what happens if the foot path collapse into the cottage cellar due to to much traffic?? who will pay for the damage caused to Mr. Gorton’s property?? how far up into space do you actually own on any freehold property??

    If I was in charge of TDC I would not want to accept the responsibility of owning this pathway without any control of what lies beneath!!!

    How much is this costing us the council tax payer to dispute this???
    If the traders in the lower high street are that concerned why dont they as a whole put forward a proposal to purchase and maintain this pathway, but if it was that bad surely the businesses would of closed or if they could actually prove a loss of earnings why are they not suing/..

  5. Bravo – a very handsome renovation. Thank you Mine Host for your public spiritedness.
    A good few years ago KCC were asked what they were going to do about Andrews Passage on the ‘other side’ which is even more important as an economic conduit for traders. According to my understanding of Land Law, if no one claims anything then it must revert to Her Majesty (so effectively a Right of Way becomes the responsibility of Kent Highways – especially if pre 1940 cartography shows it to be a PROW whether actually registered or not. Bringing AP back into circulation pronto was meant to be a Top Project for the clandestine Town Deal Board who have yet to reveal their High Street Plan….

    • Thank you kindly Sir, It was our sincere pleasure to have you there to celebrate a massive improvement to the lower end of the High Street after so many political types failed to make a mark. To much talk, not enough action (reference “Andrews Passage”). An absolute honour to be with you Geoff on our first step towards our improvement aims in this area. Soon, number 10 Market Street perhaps? Or….. You know where? 😉 The biggest question still remains, why the illogical covert political obstructions, from the political obstructors? Who gains from that? This area of Margate that should be benefiting?

      Onwards and upwards.
      One day, when something, or some one, shifts the gear for Margate’s future out of reverse. One can only wonder the reasoning.

      Best regards for now,
      David Gorton

      • And you never know some day someone in Regeneration may tumble to the huge unexplored asset called JMW Turner and joining the dots come up with a Museum annexe for the Old Town Hall (assuming it is not earmarked for social housing.) Something called the ‘visitor economy’ – I believe JMWT is well known outside Margate – even abroad.
        Maybe one for the new East Kent Combined Authority and a Fresh Look ?

  6. Mr Gorton – I’m really pleased to hear the works are complete as having read about them a few months ago it sounds like you’ve been to hell and back. Just a quick question: I’m curious about your statement at the end of the article where it mentions “land-banking”. So, have I understood correctly that you’re protesting against TDC by not opening the pub? I’m curious about it as I thought land-banking was something developers did where they wilfully left a property empty while it accrued value over time so it could then be sold at a profit? I’m not trying to be difficult (or stupid) but I just wondered if you meant to use that term as it seems that’s not ultimately your intention. It sounds like you’ve got an interest in improving the area judging by the work, time and money you’ve put in. Please don’t let TDC-related burnout mean that a property stays unused that could be a living part of the street. Sounds like you’ve got local people behind you who want to support the pub. I hope the legal situation gets sorted soon so you can move on from this whole debacle.

  7. It would have been interesting to see how much business this place might have attracted after such a self-obsessed hissy fit. Ghastly show.

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