When is a public footpath not a public footpath? At Plumb Park, Exmouth

Owl has been passed a copy of a letter (from the writer) sent to EDDC:

“Dear Sir/Madam – I have recently made several visits to this development (EX8 2JB) with a view to our family buying at least 2 purchases there.

On Wed 10th July at around 1230 I attended to see how work was going on and walked the public footpath through the site.

The public footpath runs SSE from Buckingham Close to the vicinity of Green Farm and is marked on OS maps as a Public Right of Way. The building works are all to the south and west of this boundary path.

There was no statutory notice saying that the pathway was closed nor was an advised diversion promulgated. Both these requirements are, I believe, legal requirements, to advise closure.

There were numerous signs warning about the adjacent building site, but from the safety of the public path I was better able to see the areas of build I was interested in. At no time was I in any danger from works vehicles. I passed several workers going to lunch – none of whom commented on my presence.

When I got to the end of the path/works I was rudely shouted at by an operative in a dumper truck who demanded to know what I was doing. I simply replied I was looking at the works from a public footpath. He became more authoritative and aggressive so I walked away on the way back. He then had the effrontery to demand a worker escort me “off the premises”. This chap showed me lots of notices such as “Do not enter site”, “Report to site office” but nothing regarding the public footpath. I pointed out to him the several small statutory yellow discs displaying “Public footpath”. But all to no avail.

So what is the position about this footpath? Why are there no statutory notices closing it – the developers Taylor Wimpey surely cannot unilaterally close it. Indeed is the footpath legally closed at all?

I would have thought a clear notice one way or the other is required.”

[author’s name and contact details given]

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