Judge at war with Essex village for blocking footpath next to £1m mansion

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Dec 5 18:44:55 GMT 2011

Mass arrests at Squatters Homelessness Protest ‘undermine democracy’

Judge at war with village for 'blocking' footpath next to his £1m mansion
Case could cost homeowner £100,000 if he loses
Claims path is overgrown and has not been used for 35 years

By Andrew Levy - Last updated at 3:21 AM on 5th December 2011

After decades handling civil cases as a district 
judge, David Joslin should know all about the 
pitfalls of obstructing public rights of way.


Yet he is facing an expensive court appearance 
after he was accused of building a wall across a 
footpath running alongside his million-pound home.

People living in the picturesque village of 
Nazeing, Essex, were outraged when the wall went 
up attached to an 8ft-high electric gate.

They say it blocks a route which has existed for 
generations – and are backed by Essex County 
Council, which has served a legal notice requiring it to be reopened.

But Mr Joslin, 72 – who retired as a judge 
earlier this year but still works as a lawyer – 
disputes the route of the path, which he claims 
was overgrown and had not been used for the 35 
years he has lived at his detached Edwardian house.

He is now facing a £100,000 bill if he loses when 
the case is heard at a county court early next year.

The situation is even more of an embarrassment 
for Mr Joslin because he failed to apply for 
planning permission when the wall was built, 
despite being a member and former chairman of 
Nazeing Parish Council, whose members submit 
opinions on building applications.

Retired property developer David Coster, 69, who 
is leading the campaign to have the path 
reopened, said: ‘I have no axe to grind – all I 
want is to be able to take my two grandchildren 
where I took their mother when she was their age.

‘People have used the footpath for generations.’

The footpath begins beside the gate and runs 
alongside the driveway for 150 yards before 
passing within 20ft of Mr Joslin’s land. After 
another 200 yards, it veers away. The wall went 
up in 2006 and has divided the community ever since.

Last year, parish councillor Gloria Skipper said 
Mr Joslin threatened to set his dogs on her after 
a heated meeting about the footpath.

He denied the threat but did admit to being aggressive.

Last week, a dozen residents walked out of a 
parish council meeting when members voted not to 
pay £40 a year to join the Open Spaces Society. 
The oldest national conservation body, it has 
branded the wall an ‘illegal obstruction’. Some 
villagers suspect the parish blocked the motion to ‘protect their own’.

Mr Coster added: ‘The society could cause 
problems for them further down the line with 
re-opening footpaths in the village.’

Essex County Council, responsible for the 
county’s footpaths, has served Mr Joslin with a 
notice requiring ‘the removal of the offending gates and other structures’.

The retired judge responded by applying for a 
Certificate of Lawful Development, similar to 
retrospective planning permission.

He commenced proceedings in Central London County 
Court – seen by some as a delaying tactic – and 
the case has now been moved to Chelmsford County Court.

Mr Joslin said: ‘Myself and the council are using 
the same map, yet coming to different conclusions 
as to where the footpath should be.

‘These cases spiral out of control – I have seen 
it as a judge – but we have no option but to defend it.’

Mr Joslin said he does not want the route 
reinstated as ‘it makes our home susceptible to burglars’.

‘No one will use it other than villains and vagabonds,’ he added.

A county council spokesman said it would ‘defend its position’. 
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