Lane at centre of campaign battle to close to cars for six months a year

Reclaim the Lane was launched by the residents last year - plans to close the lane for six months a year have been annouced.

Reclaim the Lane was launched by the residents last year - plans to close the lane for six months a year have been announced. - Credit: Birgit Griem

A campaign to close an unsurfaced lane to motorised vehicles has seen its demand partially met after Highways agreed to restrictions for the six wettest months of the year.

Reclaim the Lane was launched by the residents of Foulsham and Themelthorpe in September 2019 with the aim to stop Fox and Hounds Lane from becoming impassable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The lane has been used by 'green laners' - drivers and motorcyclists using unsealed roads.

In the case of Fox and Hounds Lane, this has resulted in the lane being churned up during periods of wet weather.

Close cooperation with Highways England, councillor Greg Peck, as well as the support of MP Jerome Mayhew and Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Giles Orpen-Smellie, has resulted in gates being installed at the entrances to the lane. 

The new gate in place by the Fox and Hounds Lane, and a road closure sign.

The new gate in place by the Fox and Hounds Lane, and a road closure sign. - Credit: Birgit Griem

These are currently closed but not locked, and there is an open gap to the side of the gates to allow horses onto the lane.

The hope is that green laners will respect the closure.  

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council confirmed the lane will be closed for roughly six months at a time, with the dates based on the conditions – typically opening in April/May.

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Discussions are currently taking place around repairs. 

Birgit Griem, a spokesperson for the group, has said its members are thrilled with the news, especially after they raised £11,000 for a legal effort to have the lane reclassified.

Birgit Griem with Member of Parliament for Broadland, Jerome Mayhew.

Birgit Griem with Member of Parliament for Broadland, Jerome Mayhew. - Credit: Birgit Griem

Ms Griem said they are still seeing people use the lane in motorised vehicles, despite its closure, particularly after heavy rainfall and after dark. 

They are happy with the current compromise agreement, but would fight for reclassification if people do not listen to the rules.

“The right thing to do is not use the lane when it is closed, to let it be repaired so that we can share it when it is dry," she said.

“We have agreed to the compromise and I believe it is fair enough - if people stick to it.

Fox and Hounds Lane (marked in orange on the map) is classified as an unsurfaced road

Fox and Hounds Lane (marked in orange on the map) is classified as an unsurfaced road. - Credit: Birgit Griem

“We hope that once it is repaired and dry it won’t be as attractive to green laners who like mud and ruts.

"It might resolve the problem because most green laners are law-abiding, responsible and care for the environment.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that this compromise will solve the problem."