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Public inquiry will decide battle over stretch of coastal land

PUBLISHED: 13:20 02 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 02 November 2019

Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders' Association, which wants to reassert its right to Brancaster Marsh Common.  L-R, Chris Cotton, Rod Cooke, Stephen Bocking and Brian Everett. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders' Association, which wants to reassert its right to Brancaster Marsh Common. L-R, Chris Cotton, Rod Cooke, Stephen Bocking and Brian Everett. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Archant

A public inquiry will be held after a bitter row erupted over the right to use land on the north Norfolk coast.

Brancaster Marsh Common, parts of which are in use by the National Trust and local golf club. Picture: Stuart AndersonBrancaster Marsh Common, parts of which are in use by the National Trust and local golf club. Picture: Stuart Anderson

A group set up to preserve age-old rights over commoners' land launched a bid in August to take back control of a stretch of salt marsh it said was being encroached upon.

The Scolt Head and District Common Rightholders' Association said the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club in Brancaster and the National Trust had encroached upon the commoners' rights by building on and using parts of the 621 acres known as Brancaster Marsh Common.

Rod Cooke, from the association, said the right holders' goals included "protecting and, with the land owners, managing the area of benefit in its present unspoilt state," and to be mindful of the wider conservation issues that may impact the common.

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.

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

Tim Stephens, golf club secretary, said: "Our position remains the same. The public inquiry is just to determine whether our application to deregister land is valid. "Our lawyer says it is. We are just following procedure."

Victoria Egan, general manager for the trust in north Norfolk, said previously that its ownership of part of the land had been registered with the Land Registry.

An inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will hold an inquiry at North Creake village hall, Church Street, North Creake, on February 18 next year. This is into an application by the golf club to deregister buildings and curtilage registered as common land, under the Commons Act 2006.

The application was made to Norfolk County Council and was referred to The Planning Inspectorate for determination under the Commons Registration (England) (Regulations) 2014. The inquiry will begin at 10am and will continue on subsequent days.

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