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Millionaire with links to Prince Harry wins battle against villagers over 100-year footpath through his £1.2m Wiltshire estate


A wealthy developer with links to Prince Harry has won a seven-year fight with locals to block off a footpath running through the garden of his £1.25million mansion.

Henry Pelly had caused uproar in 2016 when he shut the half-mile path running through the 17-acre estate of his six-bedroom home in Wiltshire, called Luccombe Mill. 

Mr Pelly, 45, whose cousin Guy is Prince Harry’s best friend, was criticised by locals in Bratton who said they had been able to walk through the grounds for a century.

The Planning Inspectorate overturned a decision by Wiltshire Council which designates parts of Mr Pelly’s property as a public footpath.

The row first began in 2016 when Mr Pelly blocked off the footpath, known as the Watercress Walk, with barbed wire to stop them from going through the garden next to his home.

Henry Pelly (left, with his partner Will Jenkins) sparked a backlash when he shut the footpath

Henry Pelly (left, with his partner Will Jenkins) sparked a backlash when he shut the footpath

Henry Pelly is the cousin of Guy Pelly (left), a close friend of Prince Harry (right) (Pair pictured in October 2015)

Henry Pelly is the cousin of Guy Pelly (left), a close friend of Prince Harry (right) (Pair pictured in October 2015)

The path runs through the estate of Henry Pelly’s six-bedroom home in Bratton, Wiltshire

Frustrated locals claim they and ramblers have used the footpath since the 1930s and argue it should be recognised as a public right of way in accordance with the law.

Mr Pelly and long term partner Will Jenkins referred the matter to their solicitor after receiving protests from 81 residents. 

The property developer argued ramblers frequently strayed from the footpath towards a mill pond by their property whilst dogs would also frequently enter the water. 

A two-year ‘David v Goliath’ battle followed and locals won their case in November 2018 when Mr Pelly was ordered to reopen the path by the planning inspector. Wiltshire Council later made a legal order declaring the route a right of way. 

The council also built a new bridge and cleared the entire footpath of mud so locals could walk along it safely.

The footpath, which is now set to be modified, shown in relation to Mr Pelly's mansion

The footpath, which is now set to be modified, shown in relation to Mr Pelly’s mansion

Following a public hearing last year, the Planning inspector ruled the footpath (pictured) can be diverted

Following a public hearing last year, the Planning inspector ruled the footpath (pictured) can be diverted 

Local resident Katherine Beaumont has led the battle to get the footpath reopened

Local resident Katherine Beaumont has led the battle to get the footpath reopened

A new appeal was then made to the Planning Inspectorate who undertook a hearing in October and a compromise solution was reached. 

After the ruling, part of the footpath which runs through Mr Pelly’s garden will now be diverted through a paddock to the south.

Planning Inspector Graham Wyatt, said: ‘I have found that the diversion is expedient in the interest of the landowner and the public and that the new termination points to be as substantially as convenient to the public.

‘It is not inconceivable that some users will be drawn to the pond where they will be able to view the garden and any activities that may be taking place.

‘Moreover, this would be made worse during the seasons where the trees along the footpath are without leaves.’ 

The row has left residents in the quaint Wiltshire village (pictured) in uproar

The row has left residents in the quaint Wiltshire village (pictured) in uproar

Mr Pelly owns the £1.25m property in Bratton in Wiltshire (pictured)

Mr Pelly owns the £1.25m property in Bratton in Wiltshire (pictured) 

Mr Pelly told MailOnline: ‘After a 7 year battle, the planning inspectorate finally approved the order to move the footpath away from the garden, into the adjoining paddock.

‘The new route received a lot of support from local residents during the consultation process.

‘We are extremely happy with the decision, which we believe is a fair outcome for all.’

Speaking previously, Mr Pelly insisted they were ‘determined to fight’ the campaign and accused locals of embarking on a ‘witch-hunt’.

He said: ‘The path goes right through our garden. It simply isn’t a right of way – it’s our private property.

‘I’m sure that the people who are campaigning for it to be reopened wouldn’t like a public footpath to run through their own gardens.

‘I am determined to fight this as otherwise there is simply no privacy. I would have to put up large fences if the footpath was reopened which would cost a fortune.

It is claimed the path (pictured) has been opened to the public for decades with ramblers using it

It is claimed the path (pictured) has been opened to the public for decades with ramblers using it

The footpath, known as the Watercress Walk (path pictured), is a public right of way

The footpath, known as the Watercress Walk (path pictured), is a public right of way 

‘The campaigners live in the countryside so there are nice walks everywhere. I don’t know why they’re so set on having this one reopened.’

He added the people running the campaign have not tried to talk to him about it and said their behaviour left him ‘lost for words’.

Mr Pelly said: ‘We’re English not American so I’m not expecting people to be coming round with baked pies.

‘But if someone wanted to put a public right of way through my garden I would expect them to at least try and talk to me about it.

‘It’s just shocking. It’s turning into a witch hunt. I’ve had to refer it to a specialist solicitor who deals with these matters.’

Katherine Beaumont, who led the local campaign, described the row as a ‘bit of a David v Goliath battle.’

She collected statements about the path from villagers to submit to Wiltshire Council and added: ‘It’s a special, magical walk that means a lot to a lot of people.

‘He says it’s through his garden but there’s a lake and a woodland path between his house and where we are walking. It’s not like we’re going over his front lawn.’



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