‘Deeply unloved and deeply unwanted’ — residents of a road in St Helens are fighting back against a planning appeal which argues the nature of the road.
Outline development plans for 57 houses on the former Guildford Park camping site, on Guildford Road, were rejected by the Isle of Wight Council last year over traffic and archaeology issues.
The developer and agent, Phil Salmon, is rejecting the decision and is now appealing to the Planning Inspectorate.
A question raised throughout both planning stages was whether Guildford Road is actually a road — private and unmade or ‘a road to which the public has access’ as defined in the Road Traffic Regulation Act.
The Isle of Wight Council determined it was a private road, as signs on the entrance of the road suggest, falling outside the remit of the highway authority with no known owner.
In its report to the planning committee, officers said in the absence of any landowner, the courts will, if necessary, assume the landowners next to the road will own to the middle line of any road — the same principle adopted by HM Land Registry when determining property boundaries.
In the appellant statement, Mr Salmon says the council made a ‘legal error’ by making that decision.
“It is common ground that Guildford Road is not a highway … It is, however, a road to which the public has access, and is, therefore, a road”.
Now the residents’ group of Guildford Road are arguing issues have been left out in the appellant statement to the Planning Inspectorate and the developer does not own the land to change it.
Brian Williams, a member of the residents’ group, has said in November last year, the developer gave notice to residents saying they were seeking legal action over the status of the road, clarifying who owned the land but they had heard nothing since representations were sent back to solicitors. He said:
“It is annoying, it is like an itch, but no matter what they can throw at us we will overcome it”.
Former Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon, a St Helens resident who has been helping those on Guildford Road, said:
“It seems a little odd as the nature of the road has not changed.
“They have completely failed to inform the Planning Inspectorates that there was this legal action.
“It is a very unpopular proposal here — it could potentially seriously affect the village. It is deeply unloved and deeply unwanted.”