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Prince Charles asked to step in on dispute over coastal land

PUBLISHED: 10:26 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:26 12 December 2019

Prince Charles was asked for his support in a dispute over a stretch of coastal land in Brancaster. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Prince Charles was asked for his support in a dispute over a stretch of coastal land in Brancaster. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A group set up to preserve age-old rights over commoners' land in North Norfolk has called on Prince Charles to get involved.

The area which the Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders Association says is common land. It has been registered by the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and the National Trust. Image: Google MapsThe area which the Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders Association says is common land. It has been registered by the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club and the National Trust. Image: Google Maps

But a spokesperson from the Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders' Association, who asked not to be named, said the royal's private secretary had told them "it was difficult" for Prince Charles to become involved in such matters.

The association launched a bid in August to take back control of a stretch of salt marsh it said was being encroached upon.

They say the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club in Brancaster and the National Trust are taking over the commoners' rights by building on and using parts of the 621 acres known as Brancaster Marsh Common.

The association is planning to make their case at a hearing planned for North Creake Village Hall on February 18, to be held by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Brancaster Marsh Common, parts of which are in use by the National Trust and local golf club. The Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders Association wants to reassert its right to the land. Picture: Stuart AndersonBrancaster Marsh Common, parts of which are in use by the National Trust and local golf club. The Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders Association wants to reassert its right to the land. Picture: Stuart Anderson

The association's spokesman said Prince Charles' office had been approached partly because of the golf club's 'royal' title.

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He said: "The common rightsholders don't have the money of the golf club so we are battling way on our own account.

"It's a bit of an uphill battle. We're just doing our best and continuing to press forward, but we may have to take this to the High Court."

A spokesperson from Clarence House confirmed they had been contacted about the issue, but said: "The Prince of Wales cannot get involved in individual cases like this."

The hearing is into an application by the golf club to de-register buildings and curtilage on land it occupies, which are registered as common land under the Commons Act 2006.

Tim Stephens, the golf club's secretary, said the hearing would not involve the land on the other side of the access road, which is where a car park and the golf club's links are located, but just the land where the club house is.

Mr Stephens said: "In order to de-register land you have to meet certain criteria, which we believe we do. We believe that the land was registered in error. It's completely different from land ownership which [the association] seems to be talking about."

The association said it should share an income from a car park, kiosk and beach huts on the common, and the golf club should also pay it compensation for using the land. The common rightholders would then use this money to protect the common and common rights.

But both the club and the National Trust are at odds with the association's stance.

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