A MAN has challenged authorities over a footpath which is proposed to run through his back garden.

Neil Mattingly, of Higher Sea Lane, Charmouth, has been in a dispute with Dorset Council over the existence of a footpath.

Walkers use a path from Higher Sea Lane to the beach, running alongside his property.

However Mr Mattingly was shocked to receive a letter from the council proposing a modification to the definitive map of the area, with the route of the path - Footpath 12 - running through his garden.

Mr Mattingly, a local historian, believes the confusion is down to a 65-year-old map which has been misinterpreted.

After he and fellow residents raised objections, the council said it would investigate. It has no plans to undertake any work on the path.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Footpath 12 in Charmouth

Mr Mattingly received a letter just before Christmas from Dorset Council’s definitive map technical officer, Sue Phillips, which said the council was considering a 'proposal to modify the definitive map' and said it would 'correct a drafting error'.

Mr Mattingly claims there is little evidence which points to the footpath through his garden ever even existing and has suggested that a large part of the confusion is down to a map from 1957 commissioned by Charmouth Parish Council which has been misinterpreted, with many maps made since showing no sign of a footpath.

Mr Mattingly said: "I have been trying for the last four years for the council to see sense and reroute it to the west of my garden where it is already being used, but without any success.

"I have had terrific support from many villagers who feel it very unjust, especially as it would require the lowering of a six foot bank to allow access.

"The path is not shown on my deeds going back to when the house was built in 1922 or on any Ordnance Survey maps. No-one in the village can ever recall it being used as a footpath when the existing one to the west of my garden linking it to the coastal path is much shorter and regularly used."

He is concerned the the existence of the path in his garden would affect the value of his property if he tried to sell it, and said he wouldn't have bought the property if he had known there was a path there.

A spokesman for Dorset Council said: "Dorset Council is continuing to look into this matter. The legal route of Footpath 12 in Charmouth has been recorded in the same position since the early 1950s, but the resident most affected by the path was not aware of its existence when they purchased their property.

"The part of the legally recorded route of the path that passes through their garden hasn’t been physically available to the public for many years, but there is an alternative unofficial route which people can use to access the coast path.

"We are currently investigating the history of the route to determine exactly where it should be recorded and how wide the footpath is. Once we have established this information, we will continue to work with local residents to determine the best way forward.

"We appreciate that this has caused a great deal of concern locally and are keeping everyone informed as much as possible, but the legal process that we have to go through can take some time. The council currently has no future plans to undertake any work on the path."