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.“