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Landowner’s fear of continued vandalism puts kibosh on access path to Oxford Canal

July 29th, 2021

Damage to meadows caused by dirt bikers
Damage to meadows caused by dirt bikers in 2015

Hopes of creating a direct path from King’s Sutton to the Oxford Canal via the old Cheltenham railway line have been dashed due to the landowner’s fears of further vandalism and littering of the surrounding fields, particularly the area around “Black Bridge”. The land immediately alongside the bridge has for decades been used by local youths for partying, and the surrounding meadows (which the landowner hoped to turn into a haven for wildlife) have also suffered damage in recent years because of the activities of dirtbike and 4-wheel drive owners. 

King’s Sutton Parish Council has several times over the past 20 years explored the possibility of establishing either a right of way or a permissive footpath on the disused line. It has long been recognised that this would both enable easier access to village amenities for canal boat users (bringing in more trade for local businesses) and provide additional route options for walkers.

The council made another attempt this year to set the ball rolling, entering into preliminary discussions with the landowner. Although he was attracted to the idea in principle, the landowner ultimately decided not to engage further with the council on this issue, primarily because of those past instances of vandalism on the land and trespassers holding parties, and leaving large quantities of litter behind them.

While the parish council is disappointed, it totally understands the reasons for that decision and would remind residents that no right of way exists across that land. Using the old railway line to access the canal is therefore to be discouraged and the landowner has indicated that he is considering installing more secure fencing as a further deterrent.