CHRONICLE, 29th FEBRUARY 2004
Residents win right to roam
Campaigners have won their
battle for the right to roam Bushfield Down,
south of Winchester.
At present, 32 acres are
fenced off with "permissive access" to just
But the Church Commissioners,
who own the land, have now agreed to allow
access to the whole area.
The row began last year when
the commissioners fenced the land off with the
aim of letting it to a farmer for grazing.
However, the fence was
repeatedly cut and angry residents formed an
action group, naming it Bushfield Rights of
Way, and applying to Hampshire County Council
for a public right of way across the site.
They also asked Winchester MP,
Mark Oaten, to help to resolve the row,
sending him a letter with 150 signatures.
It was he who brought the two
sides together at his office for what he
described as a "very positive" meeting.
"It looks as if the Church
Commissioners will agree to some form of
access onto the site. They are going to meet
the residents, walk the site and look at areas
where they can make access available," he
"Clearly the land is private
and there is no public right of way, but the
Church Commissioners are prepared to
The plan is to install stiles
or kissing gates.
John Leonard, chairman of the
action group, said he was delighted that
common sense had prevailed and that
campaigners had achieved their aim of
"reaching a sensible solution whereby humans
and animals can co-exist".
Mr Leonard added that the
campaigners would be continuing with their
application for a public right of way - "as a
However, Jody Ford, the tenant
farmer, said the agreement appeared to condone
the breaking of the law.
"In most people's eyes it is
going to be seen as a victory for the pressure
group. I know it is tarring them all with the
same brush, but they have got what they wanted
through criminal damage," he said.
"I don't have a problem with
them walking across the land, but I don't
think they should have gone about it in this
"They have ignored the fact
that the land is private property. Although
they have been walking across it for years,
they have been trespassing. Just because they
have been getting away with it does not make